Habibi Center is an informal education project in the centre of Athens. It aims to equip refugee youth for a brighter future, by providing them with education. The project started in 2016 and is still led by its co-founder Stephanie Martinez, together with Camille Eluard and Alejandro Lafuente.
The Habibi Center first opened its doors to refugee youth on August 8th of 2016, in the town of Eleousa, in the north of Greece, and offered non-formal education to refugees living in several camps and temporary housing around the area. In November 2018, after operating for over 2 years as a grassroots project, the project became registered as a non-profit organisation: Association Espanola Habibi Center.
Since its beginnings, the Habibi Center has provided educational activities to over 300 teenagers and young adults. Today, the Habibi Center is located in the centre of Athens and is run by three long-term volunteers. It continues to serve refugee adolescents residing in Athens and provides a safe space for learning, expressing themselves, and for acquiring the tools they need for a brighter future.
The main activity at the centre is learning English. Many of the students come to the centre with a high level of illiteracy, not only of the English alphabet but even of their mother tongue. Although all classes are separated by levels and work is done as personalised a way as possible, this initial level requires special adaptation to the needs of the student and a higher investment of energy. When they begin to acquire minimum levels of literacy, they are given new vocabulary and grammar, following a specific curriculum that helps to give structure to both students and different teachers.
This academic learning continues with one of the dreams and goals that the project had set for itself since its beginning: preparation for taking official English exams through Cambridge. Since July 2017, 107 students have carried out these exams and so far, 1 has achieved the B2 level certificate, 21 have achieved the B1 level, 49 the A2 level, and 17 the A1 level.
Since 2016, HAN has provided more than 80 tons emergency supplies like blankets, food and medicine, mostly donated by our partners and supported more than ten Heroes in Thessaloniki, Samos, Patras, Calais and Bosnia amongst others. HAN spends 100% of funds on its goals and are matched 50-100 fold in value (8 mio Euro’s) by donations in kind and contributions by other NGO’s.