Hassan (the name has been changed in order to protect the anonymity of the minor). Unaccompanied minor, 15 years-old from Syria. He came to STEGI PLUS (+) Accommodation Centre at Patras, following a route which changes the life of all who follow it. He was one of those many. He was alone. Far away from all he had known up then. Far away from the warmth of his home, the safety his parents provided, the love of his siblings. However, he considered himself lucky in a way when he compared himself to those he had met on the way and didn’t make it at the end. Since the very first minutes, he stood out from the crowd. The first things he asked for were a piece of paper and a pen.He told us that war took everything off of him. The neighborhood he grew up, the home he so much loved, his friends and relatives who were killed in front of his eyes, the life he was used to; the job his parent lost. However, he didn’t feel unfortunate as he realized that there other people who had lost more. Their own lives. He then asked us for more paper and pens.He then showed us his sketches. We realized he had an exceptional talent in painting. His own unique experience was thoroughly depicted on the paper and the paintings were reflecting his feelings, his emotions. Graphic patterns of sorrowful women, of mothers who lost their children, of war. Sketches blended with shades of optimism, tenderness and love. All very coherently assembled signed by his unique style.We all felt and decided that his talent had to be shown. A volunteer artist was recruited to accompany him on this journey. He kept on painting with relentless passion. Hassan was chosen to participate in an art exhibition which was attended by local artists. He saw his dream becoming reality. He experienced the sense of belonging. He got power and courage, he felt proud and received a lot of love. He was empowered. He gradually became aware of his capabilities and that there are people around him who supported and believed in him. Most importantly, he is now aware of his talent, a talent which may be proved a valuable key to doors about to open.
Hassan is one of the dozen of children we have hosted during a rough period, a period where we all faced the big refugee crisis. In a particularly short period of time, the conditions forced us to readjust our dynamics and to mobilize all our means in order to create a suitable and stable environment for unaccompanied children. As staff working on the field, when asked to support young children, with obvious traumas emerged from war and their journey, we felt that most of the time things had outrun us. The human geography, the minors’ age range, the prolonged detention, the minors feeling of being volatile and the time-consuming and delayed procedures led us to formulate our position and role, to be next to each child and by respecting their choices to create a condition of foreseeable future for them.