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Moving on to Athens, Greece

Posted by gramma on April 2, 2016 at 2:15 PM

Well we have made a quick transition from Jordan to Greece. Athens is a beautiful place and we enjoy a distant view of the Acropolis and the Parthenon from the balcony of our apartment. (I know, it's a dirty job but someone has to do it.) Our first week here has been very busy. This week we read from Tuesday through Saturday and plan to read three hours on Sunday afternoon. Through Saturday we logged about 120 hours of reading sessions.

 

The Glyfada church where we are working is in fact three different groups. On Sunday morning they have a Greek worship service, in the afternoon there is a worship service for Russian speakers and in the evening there is an English service. Last Sunday we had a couple of information meetings and signed up about 25 readers, most of whose mother tongue is Russian.

 

The US media has focused on the flood of immigrants from the war zones in Syria and Iraq; however, on Monday evening we attended a gathering of about 200 refugees, most of whom were Farsi-speaking people from Iran or Afganistan. There we added at least 20 more readers to fill out our schedules. These people are fleeing repressive regimes that strictly impose Sharia law. They are hoping to immigrate to Germany, Sweden or another Western European country, but because of the flood of refugees from all over the Middle East, Europe has recently closed their borders, at least for the time being. Now these refugees are stuck here in Greece in a number of refugee camps and especially here in Athens.

 

Unlike Jordan, where the refugee camps are found close to their norther border with Syria, here in Greece, many of the refugees live in camps that are in Athens itself. There is one camp less than a mile from the church where we work (though only one of our readers lives there). They live under much less than ideal conditions and are in a constant state of limbo, nevertheless, we have found them to be generally positive, patient and very polite. Because there is very little work to be found in this economically depressed country, our refugee readers generally don't work, but the Greek govenment supplies them with passes for public transportation, so they have the time and the ability to come to us for conversation practice. Many have limited English skills, but with some effort we can communicate, it just takes longer.

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