In recent months, Athens’ Victoria Square has served as a hub for hundreds of refugees day after day. Some of our ministry partners set up a center just steps away from the area to offer a place for women and children to find rest, clean bathrooms, a cup of tea, and something even more meaningful – friendship.
We talked with the Center of Hope’s director who said that, initially, when the borders to other European countries were still open, the center wouldn’t see the same face more than a few times. The refugees were on the move. Now, the borders are closed and the government has worked to move people away from the square to refugee camps. The director suspected this would decrease the number of refugees who visit the center. In actuality, word has spread and up to 200 refugees are stopping by daily – sometimes traveling via public transportation for up to an hour. One refugee woman told the director it’s not because of the tea, but because of the relationships they find there.
Some of the school-age children showed us pictures they’ve drawn while at the center. Their drawings tell stories about the arduous journey they’re still in the midst of experiencing.
With increased demand and needs for these families, the center just recently rented a small space next door in a former health club facility that meets their exact needs: toilets, showers, private dressing rooms, and lockers. A pastor of Exarcheia Church, which is involved with the center, excitedly commented that this space didn’t just become available by coincidence. God is meeting desperate needs right before their very eyes.