When school is the inspiration for a better future
Priel from the Democratic Republic of the Congo attends classes providing learning support at the ARSIS Homework and Creative Activities Centre and is inspired by the school to dream of a better future for her and those around her.
The Itoki family came to Greece in March 2020 from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as their lives were in danger there.
Since November 2020, the family has been living in Thessaloniki, with their two children, Brave and Priel, who attend support learning classes at the Homework and Creative Activities Centre of ARSIS – Association for the Social Support of Youth, in order to receive the support they need for the Greek school.
Kamdi, the mother of the family, has taken an active role and provides for her children's needs, working in a company.
The family, despite the difficulties they face, focuses a lot on the children's education and their participation in formal education. The children started school in Greece, which is evident from their cognitive and language level. Although they speak three languages - French, Lingala and Greek - their level of Greek is particularly good, as they are fully integrated into the Greek school.
Priel attended only one year of kindergarten in Democratic Republic of the Congo, after which she came to Greece with her family and started regular schooling (formal education), combined with support learning at the Centre (non-formal education).
"...I want to go to school because school helps us. There, I learn to write and speak good Greek and learn things I don't know. I learned to paint and everyone tells me that I am very good at painting and that I should go to school to be a painter. I also like maths, especially when it gets difficult," says Priel.
"My brother and I speak Greek at home. I feel happy going to school. It is very pleasant for me. After school I come to the Homework Centre to study my lessons and then I go home. My friend M. and I go to the park, play, dance. I like to listen to Greek songs," Priel continues.
What makes the contribution of the Homework and Creative Activities Centre even more important for the daily lives of the children and their families is that a strong relationship of trust and understanding has been built. For any issue related to the care and upbringing of the children, as well as for family issues, there is close collaboration with the social worker, but also with all the professionals of the Centre, while at the same time there is communication and coordination between the teachers of the Centre with the local Primary School, where the children go, and the Refugee Education Coordinator.
As Kamdi says, the support she receives from the Centre team is invaluable, and even if there is something she cannot do, she feels that the team will facilitate it. She says "the children have integrated and are benefiting enormously from attending school", confirming that she would like her family to stay in Greece.
When we ask Priel to describe her experience at the Homework and Creative Activities Centre she tells us:
"At the Center the teachers help me with my studying. With a little help, I do the maths on my own! I always come in with joy on my face. What I learn here helps me at school, where I go in the morning."
"When I grow up, I want to be a mathematician," she continues enthusiastically, smiling at the thought that she may return to the Homework Center years from now as a maths teacher herself to help the children. "When I get older I will volunteer and help my parents with what they need."
And this desire fits her name perfectly, as Priel in Lingala means "I want to help all the time..."
The Homework and Creative Activities Centre of ARSIS-Association for the Social Support of Youth operates in Thessaloniki since October 2021, in the framework of the programme "All Children in Education", which is a UNICEF initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, co-funded by the European Union, and implemented in collaboration with a number of partners, including ARSIS.