We are active in both Barcelona, Spain, and Polykastro, Greece. In both places, we carry out various educational and cultural activities that support refugees and migrants with their integration while connecting local communities to migrant communities. Most of our projects are made possible with the strong support of our many, various volunteers.
Open Cultural Centers
SPAIN AND GREECE
Our Open Cultural Centers are the places where our work start: this is where anyone – locals, refugees and migrants – can just walk in and get to know our organisation, meet new people and join our events. We have managed various centers, but right now we have one center in the heart of Barcelona and one in Polykastro, close to the Nea Kavala refugee camp.
Migracode acts as a bridge between the demand for skilled people in the tech sector and people with a migration background who are eager to work in the tech industry. Founded in 2019, we are cooperating with other code schools in Europe to build a large community of companies and students to foster both labor integration as well as social inclusion.
The OCCCycling project has been designed to address the isolation of residents of the Nea Kavala refugee camp. The camp contains over 800 displaced people, and is 4 km from the nearest town, Polykastro. The absence of suitable public transport means that residents struggle to access supermarkets, pharmacies and the local health centre. Having access to bicycles free of charge means that camp residents can access the amenities mentioned, as well as the community and social events beyond the camp.
Building a friendly community among the volunteers and the students, as well as the community of Polykastro is vital for OCC. OCC has a meeting space that serves this purpose. The Cafeteria is the centre of all our activities in Greece and the space where community members can register for courses and activities. The Cafeteria is also the meeting space for OCC members and volunteers. The Cafeteria is open to everyone and it offers free tea, coffee, board games, books and internet connection.
“Amigo Mio” Book
The book “My Friend!” is a project by Open Cultural Center that was created in the refugee camp of Cherso, to the north of Thessaloniki. With the words and drawings by children in the refugee camp, it explains the journey of refugees to arrive in Greece. Abdul, Elaf, Amar and Heva are some of the children who illustrated and explained their personal stories: their life in Syria, before and during the war, the journey to Europe, life in the camp in Greece and their dreams for the future.
OCC launches a new free bus service that will bring students from the countryside and the city of Axiopolis to the centers of the organization located in Polykastro on a daily basis. A small change that will make a big difference for our students: it will save frustrations related to the long commutes to the city and will mean added motivation for those who could not attend classes simply due to lack of time.
The Women’s Space meets every Monday evening, and activities are varied week by week but range from dancing to discussions of issues specific to refugee women in Greece. The Women’s Space serves to empower participants and build mutual relationships and networks for mutual support networks. Women come to an activity specially designed for them, a space for them to feel safe, empower them and facilitate mutual support networks. There is also a space available for the children of participating women during this time where OCC volunteers prepare recreational activities.
Classes for refugee children
Each afternoon from Tuesday to Friday OCC holds classes for refugee children in the Polykastro area. The classes are organised into three groups: Falafels (6-8), Eagles (9-12), and Pirates (13-17). Classes are three hours, with one half dedicated to language education and one half dedicated to an activity (sports, children’s workshops, crafts, cooperative games, etc.). Each class is led by a resident and an international volunteer. Child students receive both English and Greek language education on alternating days.
SPAIN AND GREECE
Both in Spain and Greece, we use language to connect locals, volunteers and newcomers through our free classes. The classes in Barcelona are given by both locals and newcomers, and students are also a mixture of the two. Classes are free for our members and it’s a great opportunity to get to know new people. In Greece, students are mainly refugees from the Nevala Neu refugee camp, learning Greek, English and/or other languages (cost-free).
The CodeWomen project of MigraCode supports and encourages female students during their Migracode bootcamp, to work towards their successful graduation as Junior Web Developer. The project was started to address the often difficult position of women in the mostly male tech world, and consists of bi-weekly meetings where our students and volunteers can meet to code, socialise and share experiences and knowledge.
Growing up inside a refugee camp is not a safe environment for children. They are in constant distress, and don’t have many opportunities to escape the hardships of the life in the camp. This is why OCC offers a free kindergarten service in their center in Greece, allowing families to leave their children with OCC for a day, giving them a safe place to play and learn, while the families have the possibility to work or do other things they wouldn’t be able to do if they had to care for their children all day.
An important part of the integration process is finding a job, offering stability and economic prosperty. However, many people in refugee camps have been disconnected from the labour market for a long time. This is why OCC offers various workshops to increase their labour opportunities, including CV, computer and LinkedIn workshops.
The purpose of ITFLOWS is to provide accurate predictions and adequate management solutions of migration flows in the European Union in the phases of reception, relocation, settlement and integration of migration, according to a wide range of human factors and using multiple sources of information. These insights will be provided by an evidence-based ICT enabled solution (the EUMigraTool) and precise models. OCC is a vital partner to make this large EU-funded project possible.
Sports Community Building
SPAIN AND GREECE
Sports may be one of the best ways to bring people together and create understanding towards other people. This is why OCC is always trying to organise various sports events, ranging from cycling and football to volleyball and hiking. In Greece for instance, we regularly organise football tournaments (once even in collaboration with La Liga!), and in Spain we have a cycling group exisiting of MigraCode students and volunteers.
Untold Stories Barcelona
“Untold Stories” is one initiative thought by a group of youth people with the goal of sharing the perspectives of people who left their countries for different reasons and found in Barcelona their new home. The was designed to act as a platform to share the voices of people who would like to tell their experiences, thus, showing the diversity and richness of cultures that meet in Barcelona. Through interviewing people from different origins and cultures we would like to promote solidarity and intercultural dialogue, but also to show the fact that we are all different, each of us in our unique way.
The Selfie of Migration (#BOZA)
We have collaborated in this wonderful project led by journalists Anna Surinyach and Severine Sajous. The output of the project is #BOZA: a film about people on the move from the African continent to Europe. In first person narrative and using videos and Selfies, Alhassane, Aminata, Mamadou, Mariam and Yahya tell their journeys and their goal of making “boza”.