“Each mission is a life changing experience. Seeing the anguish of these children and the conditions from which we take them, I feel I am contributing to their lives’ improvement” mentions Christina, METAdrasi’s escort.
In another mission, ten children travelled by boat from Chios to Piraeus. “When we went to pick up the children, they had their eyes lowered by fear. It was not until we entered the boat that they started smiling, as they felt sure that they were finally leaving behind the island and the conditions they had to go through”, recounts Anna, member of the escorting team. “When an escort meets a child about to be escorted, he appears in his eyes as a savior. In fact, many times, children feel such a relief, that they confide in their escort their highly traumatic experiences, for the first, and maybe the last time in their lives. We always give priority to the children under the hardest conditions”, adds METAdrasi’s president Lora Pappa.
Within eight years of “Escorting Missions for Unaccompanied Minors” 11,000 children have been escorted in total, during 4,000 escorting missions. According to the latest data, 40% of the missions concern escorting from the islands to the mainland. 41% of the escorted children come from detention centers, 36% from hotspots in the islands and 8% from homelessness.
Observing, through this activity, the imperative needs of this vulnerable group, METAdrasi was led to the creation of a protective network for the unaccompanied children, which consists of innovative activities: Escorting Missions, Guardianship Network, Foster Care, Transit Accommodation Facilities, Supported Independent Living for unaccompanied minors aged 16-18.
Currently, more than 3,700 unaccompanied refugee children are found in our country, and although a solution to the issue of their escorting has been found, 6 out of 10 children still live under precarious and inappropriate, for their age, conditions, due to the lack of proper accommodation facilities.