Across Athens refugees are stuck in limbo – children lack access to quality education and basic survival skills, whilst their parents struggle to find work. What started as BP funding meals for local schools in Athens has developed into a three-pronged programme focused on education, nutrition and employment.
Working alongside NGOs, the Air BP team have helped children learn to read. ‘Reading on the Pitch’ is a curriculum that educates children without the need for a classroom. Instead it uses fun football games as a stimulus for learning words, letters and sounds. In addition, every person in the Athens Air BP office has helped fund lunches for the children through a ‘meals on wheels’ service and delivered essential goods to the camps. Mothers are fed, and formula provided for babies that need it. For many, lunch is the only meal they will have all day. Without it they risked being malnourished.
Refugee parents have also been assisted in finding meaningful work at farms. Not only does this help them with means to provide food for their families, but it also gives them produce to sell, helps raise their self-esteem and gives them a focus, acting as a long-term deterrent to crime.
“Working in this space teaches us how privileged we are to have a stable job, good health, a roof over our head and a safe country. We are humbled by the generosity of the Greek people who are going through their own financial crisis. We respect and learn from the refugees who are themselves the most generous, warm and kind people." Amir Ibrahim, Air BP’s General Manager for Greece, Turkey & Cyprus.
What does the future hold for the project? The Air BP team are only just getting started. They continue to put their lunch money allowance towards the cause and donate time, clothes, and toys to disadvantaged communities across the country. More than 5,000 children and parents have already benefitted from the programme – the aim is to help thousands more. Our team have also been integral in expanding ‘Reading on the Pitch’ to other countries like Turkey, Egypt and Mexico/US border. The programme serves as a timely reminder of the privilege that many of us have.
The team’s favourite quote is: “It’s not about what you have, it’s about what you do with it, and who you lift up along the way”.
Visit our ‘News and views’ section to find out more about what our team have been up to.