SOS Refugiados, through a Spanish volunteer, brought a kiln to Athens. Inés, another volunteer, carried out workshops with refugee children from various squats based on the realization of clay birds which were then baked and sold to obtain financial resources for the squats themselves.
The squats are buildings in Athens (old schools, hotels, hospitals) run by Greek and Spanish volunteers. The Greeks are in charge of the management of the squats, and the Spaniards (volunteers of SOS Refugiados), of bringing food and various supplies to the refugees as well as developing activities, mainly with children.
In the mornings, some children go to Greek schools, others stay in the squats all day and time goes by very slowly, their free time becoming endless. That was the reason that motivated us to first develop the CreArte Project (CreateArt) and then the Clay Birds.
Inés, an SOS Refugiados volunteer potter, asked us to develop a work project between children from Spain and a squat, the City Plaza, where almost 100 refugee children from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan live. Through stories about mythical creatures sent by Spanish children, the children of the City Plaza made drawings that Inés later captured through ceramic printing in pieces of clay made by Spanish children, and in others by a potter, in this way producing the combination of the creativity of the Spanish children and refugee children in Athens. These objects, baked in an oven, were sold by the Spanish children at various supportive fairs and the proceeds will go to the City Plaza school. From there came Clay Birds: the children of the City Plaza expressed their hope to us of returning to their house or living in a normal house.
We would like these children, like clay birds, to fly away in search of decent housing as a result of the solidarity of the countries of the European Union. Objectives of the Clay Birds project: Making children fly, letting their imagination take them away from the conflict in which they have been immersed, as well as filling their hours with activities that stimulate them to forget negative experiences or learn how to overcome them.
Most of the children in the squats arrived in Athens after a difficult journey from Syria or Iraq, travelling through Turkey and arriving in Greece in small boats with an extremely dangerous journey during the night to the shores of the islands of Lesbos or Chios. Some of the drawings reflect their fears during the journey and the memories of their houses, filled with flowerpots. We are grateful for the sponsorship of the singer Manolo García for this project. In his musical career, we have found several songs in which clay and potters appear as a common theme. Manolo understands the creative value of soft clay and the strength of clay baked in the ceramic kiln.