Hiyfat, Sara and Muhammad
Hiyfat is walking up and down restlessly, peeking through the windows of the administration building in the refugee accommodation centre of Trikala, central Greece. In a few hours, two of her three children, Sara and Muhammad, 10 and 9 respectively, will go back to school for the first time in years and IOM staff is here to register the new pupils and to distribute school kits. Anticipation is in the air.
“I’m really happy for my children as I believe education is very important” Hiyfat says. “It’s been ten moths we are in Greece and in the meantime, I have tried to teach them on my own everything I can, while trying to improve my English, as well”.
Hiyfat has escaped Aleppo together with her husband and 3 children more than a year ago. The family arrived on the island of Lesbos and moved around various camps across Greece before finally settling here, four months ago. “People are nice here in Trikala, we have made friends. However, I think it’s in the best interest of my family to move to Holland or to Norway, where we also have relatives”.
Sara and Muhammad are buzzing around their mom as they wait to get their colourful bags. “I have been to school for one year, back in Syria”, Sara says. “I love that I’m starting again, I would like to study English, to learn every language in the world! It would be nice to do some drawing and to make new friends, too”. Muhammad is a little more reserved: “I’m looking forward to go to school tomorrow, but I want to see how I turns out before I say anything, I don’t know whether I’ll like or not. I miss the classroom but I would really love to play some football”.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), thanks to European Commission funding, is ensuring the safe transportation of pupils from the Accommodation Centers to schools and has equipped them with school kits, notebooks, pens, pencils and other necessary school material. The education program is part of the “Multi-sectoral assistance to and protection of migrants and refugees stranded in Greece” scheme.