Moms2Moms: Lesvos Safe Place Women and Children Shelter
Female asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants face a unique challenge as they are very often victims of violence, exploitation, and human trafficking. After surviving the difficult Mediterranean Sea crossing, they find themselves stranded in countries where they have no legal rights while facing further dangers of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Women continuously report inappropriate behavior, sexual harassment and attempted sexual attacks as the most common form of SGBV. Such situations are particularly worrying in the Reception and Identification Centres (RIC) of Moria (Lesvos) where the current population is 5 times the intended capacity.
In response to this situation, Moms2Moms was founded to support single migrant mothers with basic needs like food, shelter, and daycare while also providing safety and empowerment for them and their children. This enables them to build their life gradually while also fostering resilience, taking gradual steps towards integration and feeling supported by other women.
Safe Place raised funds to purchase and renovate a building in Mytilini, opening the first Safe Place Women and Children’s shelter in June 2019. The space is a multifunctional shelter, serving women and children at different points of their asylum procedure, thus at times acting as a transit center for those pending referrals to UNHCR housing, transfer to the mainland and/or preparation for taking their first steps towards independence and resilience. The shelter is centrally located on the island, allowing for a network of support from other organizations and the host population, while acting as a communal space for everyone, enhancing a feeling of home and safety. In addition to the provision of basic need support, the shelter also provides the following services:
The capacity is a maximum of 20 residents, and our current capacity is 18. This is subject to change on a very frequent basis.
Moms2Moms: Lavrio Safe Place Women and Children Shelter
With the surge in arrivals continuing the Aegean Shores, the Greek authorities are making attempts to decongest the islands by transferring refugees and asylum seekers to the mainland. Women and single mothers continue to be at high risk on the mainland, as well, very often lacking basic infrastructure and housing options, including proper gender separation sanitary facilities.
Safe Place has continued to receive requests from mothers and mothers-to-be for a shelter on the mainland in order to maintain their safety. In response to these requests Safe Place located a 2-story building with a communal living area and the ability to house 20 residents at a time. The building is in Lavrio, a safe and quiet town, approximately 65 km from Athens, with a strong tourist economy.
A supportive donor has purchased the building and donated it to the Moms2Moms cause for the next five years. The model of the Lavrio Shelter will mirror that of Lesvos, supporting the same principles of enhancing and supporting women and their children through provision of basic needs, tutoring and language courses, legal aid and PSS, while enabling safety and empowerment. The operation of the shelter will be supported via social workers, case management, volunteers, workshops, events and training sessions on various topics.
The official commencement of the shelter was January 2020.
Tutoring and language courses for children with support from the host population and local schools and teachers.
Partnerships with medical and legal services on the island allowing for the provision of comprehensive support.
PSS in the form of martial arts classes, swimming lessons, therapy, casework, and female empowerment.
Established referral systems to other organizations and/or Greek public services.