Building a new life without a familie

Before I came to Greece last May, I was a social worker who dealt with students from sixteen until eighteen years who didn’t want to go to school. With these experiences I started teaching English-1 to the unaccompanied minors who live in the shelter. At first I wasn’t to excited about it, because how would I motivatie fifteen- and sixteen year old boys to come to my class and how would I make it fun for them? From the first moment I started teaching I found out that all my preconceptions weren’t true. De students immediately got their books and were ready for the class. Despite the difference of levels of the students, there isn’t a student who is bored or can’t keep up with the others. De boys all help each other out and if one isn’t serious enough, the others will correct him.

I’m teaching for more than four weeks now and sometimes I forget that these boys all came to Greece by themselves. They already had an adult life behind them and they’re not even on their final destination yet. It is nice to see that the boys in the shelter have space to be kids again: gaming, putting the music a bit to loud, don’t want to get out of bed and relaxing. Their is a group of caregivers who give them the space to be kids, but who also prepare them for life after the shelter. It is incredible how the boys deal with the whole situation. They’ve had a hard and complex journey. They’re here without their family in a different culture and sometimes they don’t even know what will happen to them after this. Despite that they still want to work on their future and deal with the everyday things: listen to Justin Bieber and bother the kittens who live with them.

Text: Corien Tiemersma
Photo: Bas Bakkenes