Culture Without Borders

Cultural Centers

In the last 3 years, we have undertaken 4 cultural centers in Greece with the refugee population:

  • Polikastro Cultural Center
  • Cherso Cultural Center
  • Sounio Cultural Center
  • Idomeni Cultural Center

Below you can find some details of the projects

Polikastro Cultural Center

Polykastro is a city in the Northern area of Greece where we have opened a center. This is the first Open Cultural Center to be opened outside of the camps. Why is this?

The international pressure exerted by the difficult winter conditions in Greece have forced the Greek government to relocate the most vulnerable refugees to appartments and hotels. This mainly happens as a reult of the complaints made by smaller organisations. Examples of vulnerability: families with children, single mothers, women that have been freed from difficult situations withtin their families and people with disabilities.

Being outside of the camps in, in large part, a very positive change. However, it is in fact in the camps where they have the medical services, schools and normally some form of community/artistic space that has been built and supported by organisations like Open Cultural Center. Outside the camps these services do not exist.

After the closing of the camps where we worked, the volunteers continued to give classes in the new living areas of the families. But these spaces were far from providing an ideal working and learning space, neither for the families that tried to manage a house nor for the volunteers.

For all of these reasons and in virtue of exhaustive interviews to the community whicb indicated their willing to help out with the new project, Open Cultural Center opens a venue in the city of Polykastro with the support of 80 students and several others that we hope will be interested in the project thanks to the work of the volunteers.

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Cherso Cultural Center

In Cherso there has been a refugee camp since February 2016, which has managed to shelter over 2,000 refugees.

This camp lacked a school and the organization of cultural activities, so towards the beginning of June we decided to start a cultural center project in the camp in collaboration with the organization of InterEuropean Human Aid Organization (IHA). 

This project has 4 areas of work:

  • The construction of a physical space for cultural activities and education.
  • An educational project for children and adults.
  • A cultural program for children and adults.
  • Help to improve the camp.

These areas of work are done respecting the objectives of the project. 

  • To empower the refugees through the undertaking of responsibilities as well as teaching, leading workshops and project administration. They should have an occupation and maintain their professional skills. 
  • To create a safe and structured environment in the refugee camps for the children, where they can play, learn and continue to have a healthy lifestyle.
  • To provide a space where both children and adults can busy themselves with work, express themselves creatively and have a sense of community as well as develop their academic, social and physical abilities and alleviate stress.
  • To facilitate cultural exchange among refugees and local communities, shelter and volunteers.

This project wouldn't have been possible without the help from the following groups and organisations: 

  • InterEuropean Human Aid Organisation (IHA)
  • Refugis Girona
  • Llum pels Refugiats
  • EREC
  • Contaminando Sonrisas
  • Are You Syrious
  • Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)
  • International Red Cross
  • International Rescue Committe (IRC)
  • Acció Puça
  • Muros Rotos
  • Baluna Matata y Film Fest
  • Paramythádes

Sounio Cultural Center

The Sounio camp is located 60km south of the Greece capital, in the Atica region. 

The camp was opened in March 2016 and has a capacity for up to 400 people, most of which are children. It is a mixed camp where Syrians, Palestinians, Iraqis, Kurds and Afghans live together.

The OCC starts its work in the camp towards the beginning of June with the opening of the Sounio Cultural Center. 

This project has 4 areas of work: 

  • The construction of a physical space for cultural activities and education.
  • An education program of foreign languages for children and adults. 
  • A cultural program for children and adults. 
  • Help to improve the camp. 

These areas of work are done respection the objectives of the project. 

  • To empower refugees through the undertaking of responsibilities such as teaching, leading workshops and being responsible for the administration of projects.  They should have an occupation and maintain their professional skills. 
  • Create a safe and structured environment in the refugee camps for the children, where they can play, learn and continue to have a healthy lifestyle.
  • To provide a space where both children and adults can busy themselves with work, express themselves creatively and have a sense of community as well as develop their academic, social and physical abilities and alleviate stress.
  • To facilitate cultural exchange among refugees and local communities, shelter and volunteers.


This project wouldn't be possible without the help of the following groups and organizations:

  • UNHCR
  • Mercy Corps
  • Contaminando Sonrisas

The OCC team is not working at the camp at this time due to the lack of an authorization permit, and is therefore temporarily inactive.  

Idomeni Cultural Center

Idomeni was previously a free camp that sheltered over 10,000 refugees in which there was no school or cultural activities for either children or adults.

Refugees and international volunteers worked together to carry out classes and create a safe space, for both children as well as adults where these could continue to learn in the camp. 

Furthermore, we adopted a number of events and activities such as music and art classes, open-mic nights, performances and movie nights. In Idomeni, the Cultural Center rapidly became an important resource in the camp, with over 150 children and over 80 adults assisting the classes and events.

As a result of the direct participation of the refugees in the project, together with the support of the international volunteers in areas like coordination, teaching foreign languages and the providing of resources and logistics, an efficient and sustainable model was developed.

The project had 5 main components:
- The construction of a physical space for learning and cultural activities.
- A cultural programs for children and adults.
- The supply of food to students/participants.
- Psychological support.

This project was made possible thanks to the collaborations of many independent volunteers as well as the following organizations and groups.
Food: Hot Food Idomeni, Banana Team, Chai Tea Tent, EREC, Save the Children

Pyschological Support: IsraAid Organisation

Medical assistance: SCM Medical Mission, Chian Hai Supreme Master Medical Team, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Planification and Construction: Aslanidis Theodoros Shop, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), InterEuropean Human Aid Association Germany (IHA), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Legal counselling for refugees: InfoTent

Volunteer management:  Refugis Girona

Thank you to everyone who makes this project possible
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