More than 2,300 unaccompanied minors live in our country under precarious circumstances, in detention, camps or even in the street, due to lack of accommodation in appropriate facilities. Among them are many teenagers.
2017 has been the most critical year regarding the living conditions of unaccompanied minors in Greece. In response, METAdrasi, after having initiated the Foster Care programme in 2016, proceeded with the implementation of a new groundbreaking activity: the “Supported Independent Living for unaccompanied minors” aged 16-18.
“Taking into consideration the emergency of the situation, it is absolutely required to pursue alternative solutions and put to action the expertise and the experience of other European countries”, mentions Lora Pappa, METAdrasi’s president. “These children, in order to survive, were forced to grow up and mature beyond their age. They have learned to support and take care of, not only themselves, but also younger siblings, relatives or friends at the same age”. Apart from offering accommodation, this innovative activity focuses on improving and empowering the skills developed by the unaccompanied minors and aims at enabling their smooth coming of age and their integration to Greek society.
“We collaborated with institutional entities and organizations in other countries, we evaluated different models that have been implemented for decades throughout Europe, as well as best practices and the Greek legal framework, and we are confident that we have created a safe environment for the unaccompanied minors”, explains Claire Pavlaki, the activity’s manager.
Sami* is the first child to benefit from the activity. He arrived in our country alone, about a year ago, seeking for shelter and safety, leaving behind conflicts, violence and the loss of people he loved. METAdrasi has been standing by Sami from the very beginning, through the Guardianship Network for Unaccompanied Minors and the Accommodation Facility in Chios. Thanks to this initiative, Sami now lives in an apartment in Athens, where he has his own room, he goes to school and feels that he can realize his dreams and plans.
Despoina, the member of METAdrasi’s Guardianship Network that has undertaken his support, recounts: “Sami is a studious and consistent teenager. From the first day I met him, I was impressed by his politeness and the fact that he is always smiling, despite the difficulties he had to face from a tender age. He is very happy to have his own space and study area. His aspiration to complete his school studies, which was impossible in his home country, is now feasible and he works very hard in this direction. I was moved to hear that his school community embraced him from the first day, even more when the Parents and Guardians Association initiated efforts to cover his school fees”.
The activity is implemented with the support of Unicef, the important contribution of the Public Prosecutor for Minors and METAdrasi’s Guardianship Network for Unaccompanied Minors, as well as with the cooperation of EKKA (National Center for Social Solidarity).
*The child’s name has been changed for the protection of his personal data.