Finding refuge in books

ECHO (Education.Community.Hope.Opportunity) is an organisation dedicated to fostering community and education initiatives in Greek refugee camps. The ECHO Refugee Library is their flagship project. They hope to transform the sites in which they work from places of stagnancy and waiting, to places where dreams and drive remain alive.

ECHO began in the context of the closure of Greece’s northern border, leaving over 60,000 refugees stranded in limbo. 17 months into their wait in Greece, many still faced 3-12 more months before being relocated (and for many, reunited with their families) to another European country. Others, without that option open to them, were left to wait for their asylum claims to be accepted and their status recognized. ECHO Refugee Library was a means to help people prepare for that next step, and to make use of otherwise wasted time.

The reality today, though in many ways different from the context in which they began, is still the same: left in ‘asylum limbo’, lives and futures are on hold. The wait is long, anxiety-ridden, and uncomfortable. During this wait, the task of ‘filling time’ must become that of ‘using time’.These are individuals hungry for action, for work, for education – most are former students, skilled workers, and professionals whose lives have been violently uprooted. Echo hopes to provide them with the know-how they need to carry their experience and knowledge into the next stage of their journeys.Their lives are at a standstill; they need not be.
The aim through ECHO Refugee Library is to nurture a space of learning and creativity, a place to cultivate the mind – that one part of us that can never be held captive. It is a place where goals and ambition can be worked towards, regardless of the grim reality of the present.
In the library spaces, they provide the following:
-Books and a quiet reading space
-Access to online learning
-Language learning resources
-Informal small group tutoring upon request
-Advice on university and job application processes
-A space to develop community-led creative workshops

To support Echo financially, please donate through Paypal:
For questions and comments, please email:

This entry was posted in Books, Europe, Libraries, Middle East and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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