Refugees in Greece celebrate communities’ richnessCommunity members of all faiths and ethnicities celebrated the spring season in the Koutsochero refugee hosting site, mainland Greece, showcasing the music and dance, language and art that people bring with them also when there are on the run and seeking safety.
From Syrian to Congolese music and poetry, women’s gatherings and children’s activities, the celebration which took place late April showed off the vibrancy and diversity of refugee communities and brought them closer.
“This is healthy and therapeutic for us, we should do it more often. People almost forgot about their problems for a short while, and the differences that sometimes cause tensions turned into laughter and dancing,” 30-year old Saud Marzani from Iraq said during the celebration.
The multi-ethnic youth music group was very popular among the audience. PHOTO: DRC
Performances included dancing, singing, acting and recitations of poems in Arabic, Sorani, Kurmanji, Lingala, French, and Turkish and among the performers were refugees of all ages and genders living at the site.
A youth music group - formed through numerous rehearsals in the previous days - rallied the Arab and Kurdish communities, performing traditional songs from both cultures, fully engaging the crowd.
Women from all backgrounds celebrated the day in the Women’s Safe Space (WSS), teaching each other traditional dancing moves.
“The best thing about this celebration was that we, women, could express ourselves freely!” said 18-year-old Asmaa from Syria. “You could see no nationalities or ethnicities, only laughter and happiness,” she added.
The Congolese, the smallest community in the site, performed traditional singing and dancing, introducing Congolese culture to the rest of the communities as people were cheering.
The spring celebration was a day for children could play, forget their worries and just act as children. PHOTO: DRC
Children also took part in the celebration supported by DRC staff and the municipality of Larisa’s kindergarten. Through face painting, acting and poem recitals, the children impressed everyone with their performances, which reflected their amazing grasp of diverse cultures and languages.
They also proudly exhibited scrapbooks filled with leaves and flowers, an activity facilitated by DRC non-formal education teachers.
“Look! I have made this one by myself,” said 12-year-old Rusul from Iraq, “It’s a red poppy flower”.
Even though many of the refugees are traumatised from their flight from conflict and fear what the future will hold for themselves and their families, the daylong celebration was a day off from worries. The celebration boosted everyone’s spirit and left communities with a feeling of warmth at a time of general insecurity.
“We already look forward to the next celebration and started rehearsing!” Saud Marzani said.
Snacks and drinks at the daylong spring celebration before children exhibit their leaves and flowers scrapbooks. PHOTO: DRC
About DRC in Greece
The Danish Refugee Council implements humanitarian support to ensure protection of and dignified living conditions for asylum seekers in Greece. It also provides Site Management Support in 9 mainland sites with the support of the European Commission's department for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). As part of SMS activities, DRC frequently organizes events to empower refugee communities in Greek mainland sites.