Event to raise funds to teach English to refugees in Athens

A Cambridge Journal, Sunday 27 August 2017

by Stephen Hewitt

micro.txt 27 August 2017: Refugees in Athens City Plaza Hotel, talk by Alex in a Cambridge coffee bar'
27 August 2017: Athens refugee talk by Alex in a Cambridge coffee bar. The slide reads 'In April 2016 refugees, volunteers and solidarity activists occupied City Plaza Hotel which had been closed for 8 years'

Tonight in Hot Numbers coffee bar in Gwydir Street around 40 people attended an event to raise funds to teach English to refugees living in City Plaza Hotel in Athens.

Alex, who is the operations manager of Select English language school in Station Road and St Andrews College, will go to Athens during his holidays in November.

Before drawing tickets for prizes in the fund-raising raffle, Alex gave a talk about the lives of refugees in City Plaza Hotel, illustrated with slides.

The City Plaza hotel is a squat. There are over 60,000 refugees in Greece and in April 2016 this empty hotel was taken over to house some of them. The hotel is in an area of Athens called Exarcheia (Εξάρχεια) which is controlled by anarchists and where the police do not go. What Alex said about Exarcheia echoed what I had heard in the same bar in February when I spoke to two people raising funds to teach skateboarding to refugees in Athens.

He presented a slide of statistics. The seven storey hotel has 126 rooms with over 100 families living there, including 165 children, 115 women, 100 men and 35 volunteers. One photograph showed tents pitched inside the lobby, something that is done because he said, there are not enough rooms. The occupants get hot water for an hour every two days. There is a very long waiting list for refugees wanting to stay there.

The Greek people are very friendly and welcoming to all the refugees, Alex said.

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