The open sea with its islands.
Images of tragedy,
images of horror.
images of children,
figures of unaccompanied refugee minors.
We saw them arriving
alone on the island shores.
Alone walking the roads of Greece
to reach the borders.
And because their eyes haunted us
and because there are many ways
to react to horror
their thoughts, their memories, their journey
and their dreams
to find a voice.
And this voice,
through the voices of other children of their age
to be heard loudly,
so loudly that it reaches far, as far as possible.
This is how the idea of the “Monologues across the Aegean Sea” was born. An idea that with collective effort, persistence and love, evolved into action. This action started in April 2016, as part of the project “It could be me- It could be you”. This project aims at raising awareness on human rights and refugee issues and has been implemented by the Hellenic Theatre/Drama & Education Network (TENet-Gr), in collaboration with UNHCR Representation in Greece, since the beginning of 2015.
From June to April 2016, in the cities of Athens and Patras in Greece, a series of theatre/drama workshops was organised. The participants were unaccompanied children from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Morocco and Egypt. Boys between the age of 14 to 18, hosted in the accommodation centre of the Non-Governmental Organisation PRAKSIS.
More specifically, in Athens the workshops took place in the accommodation centre STEGI PLUS (+), while in Patras, in the theatre venue “OroPaidio- Free Artistic Expression”. Twenty workshops were completed in each of these two cities. Each session lasted two hours and the participation of the young people was voluntary. Six drama pedagogues-facilitators (Hellenic Theatre/Drama & Education Network), seven interpreters (UNHCR Greece, NGO PRAKSIS), seven social workers (NGO PRAKSIS) and three psychologists (NGO PRAKSIS) took part in total.
It was a difficult venture, unfamiliar to all of us. A venture that required continuous coordination and collaboration of many people having different specialities, different perspectives and coming from different paths. But we managed to “meet” with each other. Because what mattered was our goal. The goal was to record the stories of these young people. The challenge was big. We moved on because we believe that theatre has the power and the magic quality to open up hearts, unlock feelings, revive experiences, bridge gaps. And thus, through workshops based on theatrical techniques, art and creative writing, twenty eight stories emerged; the content of this book. Teenagers that talk not only about the tragedy they have experienced in their countries and during their journey, but also about what they love and what they like; about their hopes and their dreams. Like all teenagers!
A book from teenagers, a paper boat book Is starting its voyage hoping to meet many other boats of teenagers, who long to create a world tailored to their dreams, a world where everyone will fit in and will learn about life sharing the same desk but also of adults, who may remember those faded words written on the paper boats’ sails of their youth “hospitality”, “humanity”, “solidarity”.
Coordinator of the action “Monologues across the Aegean Sea” Hellecic Theatre/Drama & Education Network
Athens July 2016