We created a shopping arcade inside an empty hanger with themed boutiques in preparation for the arrival of up to 500 refugees in May 2017. They arrived in December 2018 and there are now 1,100.
Invited to set up in March 2017, we were offered a long hanger that had been used in the previous year for sorting and distribution. With no refugees on camp there was an opportunity to completely start again with a custom-made arcade. We constructed themed boutiques along a ‘market street’ for men, women, kids, shoes and a mini-market.
At the heart of our operation is the mini-market that is open Monday to Friday. Everyone on the camp receives tokens that they can use in the mini-market to buy what they want. We record what they buy so that we can track purchasing and manage the stock.
Our mini-market has served everyone at the camp, without fail, since we arrived in December 2017. When an additional 500 people arrived over the weekend from the islands in October 2018, we got them immediately into our mini-market system and continued to support all current residents.
We distributed clothes though themed boutiques during much of 2018 and are now offering those for people in receipt of the Empowerment Fund for their use.
The camp environment is crowded and impersonal and so we have worked hard to create a welcoming and attractive space for people to feel valued and have somewhere they can call theirs to gather. We built a children’s space, cafeteria and our brilliant volunteers spend a lot of time cleaning and painting. We also facilitate a weekly women’s group.
The camp provides people with a place that they can sleep but the conditions are harsh. It can only be a temporary place before they move on to rebuild their lives. Our services are there to help them get back on their feet, restore some dignity and rebuild their lives.
- Population: 1,100 refugees from 28 different nations
- Services: mini-market, some clothes distribution, kids activities, women’s time, Empowerment Fund
- Volunteers: about 6-10 working Monday to Friday (with some weekend working days off as needed) from 9:30am-5 or 6pm
- Volunteer accommodation: nearby Ioannina is a popular tourist and student location with many airbnb, hotels and restaurants