At the end of July, METAdrasi’s President visited Lisbon for the signing of the Cooperation Agreement with the competent body of the Portuguese Ministry of Integration and Migration, in the context of the relocation of 500 unaccompanied children from Greece.
Following the signing, the Portuguese Deputy Minister of Integration and Migration had arranged a lunch at a very special restaurant created by refugees; a restaurant that seems to be very successful in Lisbon. The food was indeed amazing, but the big surprise awaiting METAdrasi’s team was that among the refugees who created the restaurant, there were refugees who had relocated from Greece through the 2017 relocation scheme. In fact, one of them, who still remembered a few Greek words, expressed his desire to return someday to Chios where he arrived in 2016. It seems that, despite the difficulties he experienced in the hotspot of Chios, he keeps the best memories from the island and its people. We felt so happy seeing this refugee, but also the other refugees who created this restaurant, making a new life for themselves!
The second surprise took place at the Accommodation Center of Lisbon which already hosts the first 25 children who were relocated from Greece in early July. Together with METAdrasi’s team, it was arranged for five unaccompanied boys to also visit the Center; these boys from Afghanistan had been relocated to Lisbon in 2017, following METAdrasi’s long efforts, the close collaboration with the Portuguese State and the Greek Asylum Service and the help of Just Cycling.
Four of these children are now adults, speak fluent Portuguese, most of them have already jobs and they have all fully integrated into the Portuguese society. The youngest will graduate school in two years and is one of the best students in his class! When they arrived at the Center and met with the 25 children, there was so much excitement. None of the children had ever imagined meeting their countrymen, who were also once unaccompanied minors in Greece, lived in difficult conditions in the refugee camps and had found themselves in Portugal where, in just a few years, they had fully integrated. They were the living proof that they could do it, too! The five boys made sure to answer all the younger children’s questions and, as if they were their big brothers, they gave them a whole lot of advice; first and most importantly, to learn the Portuguese language. Of course, they exchanged phone numbers and emails so that they can talk at any time. Some of the children challenged one of the five boys to play a game of foosball. The boy immediately accepted, having asked first Ms. Pappa to be on his team!
The time flew by! The meeting that was scheduled for one hour, lasted three. And still the time was not enough!