Humade Crafts Workshop & ‘Parisa’s journey’

The project of Humane Crafts Workshops [1] are part of the NGO Solidarity Lesvos. It is housed in the Mosaik Support Center [2] in the center of Mytilene. The workshop started in 2017 and it is free of charge for everyone who wants to participate. Its goal is the environmental awareness of the public through the art of reuse / use. One of the workshop’s basic requirement is to provide a safe space where participants feel comfortable to create and experimenting with different materials that for many might seem useless. It is very important that in the process of creation, participants have the opportunity to choose individual or collective projects as well as the materials they will use. At the same time, the process of reuse, in addition to being linked to recycling and climate change, meets immediate needs, as there are many materials on the island of Lesvos as a result of the ‘refugee crisis’ that are considered as waste. At the same time, it acquires a symbolic character, as many human lives on Lesvos are considered a “waste”. Therefore, changing the meaning of materials through their reuse during the workshops becomes a symbolic act, making visible the stories of the people participating in the workshop.

One of the many participants was Parisa, a 16-year-old refugee from Afghanistan who was with her siblings in Lesvos for 1 year and 8 months, waiting to leave for Germany to meet their mother. “Parisa was a very artistic and revolutionary figure and we loved each other from the beginning,” says Gioula, the lab’s coordinator. “She liked to paint, she even came to classes when the classes were over and we enjoyed each other’s company doing art. Restless spirit and sensitive souls. She came to Humade for about a year and as she revealed to me, her experience there made her believe in herself and feel happy again! ”

The day came when we learned that Parisa would eventually leave for Germany. “Strange moment,” we didn’t know how to react, with joy or sadness, “notes Gioula. “That’s when this idea came to me! I suggested she should paint something on the wall in the workshop yard, so she would always stay with us through her art. She liked the idea but suggested that it be better to do something together. So we thought that she should make this design and some pieces of the mural. It would be a collage of seemingly useless materials that I would add some pieces of her painting. I was thrilled! That’s where the brainstorming started. “

“So she designed a project that symbolizes her journey from Afghanistan to Lesvos. Both her narration and the depiction of the story with colors and materials were very moving. ”

“After a while Parisa left but her ‘journey’ was not over yet. So I thought of continuing the mural but not alone. Women of different nationalities took part in continuing the ‘journey’ for the next six months. Women with different stories but with a common vision. Women in solidarity. Everyone put their personal talent and style, always following the basic idea of ​​the story. So, on the occasion of the call of the Zapatistas for a collective action art that would participate in their established Comparte festival, we collaborated with the Invisible Women [3]. We continued with them and almost completed the ‘journey’ that reached as far as Mexico, the jungle of Lacandon and from there the struggling women around the world. 

Parisa’s journey began with a lot of love, in an effort to represent the life and vision of a teenager and in the process her journey was united with the counterparts of many other women. The entire process proves that art has a therapeutic effect and even more so in groups.

The materials used in this project were highly symbolic: the pieces of life jackets that are reminiscent of the dangerous regime in which thousands of people move everyday, the pieces of rubber from boats that cut off the safety of their lives, the buttons of clothes that were left behind in order to survive, the seals the slow process of obtaining asylum status, etc. The process of transforming all of this into something beautiful is a healing process that transforms an unpleasant experience into a positive one.

At the same time, the shift in the meaning of the materials through their reuse has made “visible” the women of the laboratory and strengthened those who live under the idea of ​​”waste”. As one of the workshop participants once said:  It’s like saying to those who are robbing people, waging war, and preventing people from moving that what you consider waste is the most beautiful thing in the world and that we can to prove it by making it into a work of art.”

Youla Koutsoumbou & Naya Tselepi
March 2020




[3] The ‘Invisible Women of Lesvos’ is a collective formed by members of the research group ‘Invisible Cities’ of the Department of Geography, University of the Aegean.

1, 4, 5: Naya Tselepi, October-November 2019
2, 3, 6, 7:  Youla Koutsoumbou, October-March 2020


Intercultural choirs that build a habitus of solidarity

In Mytilene, among the disputed borders and beliefs, the many invisible efforts of coexistence and solidarity, and the many choirs and theatrical groups, some actions stand out for   being intercultural and for building a habitus of solidarity.

“Opera Babel” February – March 2017 (troupe of 50 people from 4 – 60 + years old, and from different backgrounds) .. The performance was inspired by the “Epic of Gilgamesh” but here it had a different ending: “To put it very simply, because here in Lesvos, a new story is being written in which refugees, locals, volunteers, children, amateurs and professional singers and musicians will meet on stage to take us on a journey into a new world. The one in which we can all coexist harmoniously… “

MAHABHARABBIT May 2018 (troupe of 60 people from 4 – 60 + years old, and from different backgrounds). The performance took place immediately after the attacks of some residents against a gathering of refugees in Sappho Square. Named the Mahabharata, after the Indian epic Mahabarata, the modern flood of rubbish (corresponding to Noah’s Ark) and the term rabbit – a Magic Rabbit that gives the idea of ​​a balloon, “a balloon that does not work withair and fire but with good cooperation and solidarity “and proposes the idea of ​​recycling – processing.

14/5/2018 Excerpts from Maria’s interview with Christy at the 6th Experimental High School where the rehearsals of Cantalaloun take place:

“The idea started two summers ago at the festival in Tsamakia, where we met with Fred, Mariza, and Christina. It was a three-day event, open to all, with acrobatics, music, dancing, and tying naval knots. Because we liked it, we decidedto continue it; so, next November we started with a meeting in Mosaic (see post) where, = the rehearsals took place in the beginning . We rely solely on our own resources and crowdfunding. Apart from cantalaloun, there is also polyfonica with young children. It’s nice because we all come together. My children come along with me and I really like doing something together with them; because, then, we sing the songs at home and the energy of joy is transferred there.

I like that here we meet people from different countries, different cultures, different ages and finally we unite by singing and, eventually, we realize that we are not very different from each other but we have something very common, which is the love for singing. And this attitude towards  communicating and knowing new cultures and their music is very important. The choir started from the joy and love of people who wanted to sing together, and this core of peoplebrought others; the choiris open to all who think in the same way.

We try to unite all our voices and let this new composition  to be brought outthrough this combination of different voices (soprano, medium major). The body is important to us and that’s why we want to avoid  uniformity; instead, we want to be different and colourful. Being yourself is becomes clearer. You sing and your soul  is elevated.

Because singing is a way for, both, protesting and proposing something, the choir went to the anti-fascist march. That is, to propose joy and the fact that this system can change for the better. Because songs, music, dance and the arts in general unite us, rather than separate us.”

From that day onwards, the choir’s songs flood Lesvos’ neighborhoods and squares and especially Sappho Square with their music, every time it’s deemed necessary. It is slowly building a habitus of solidarity and cooperation and inspiring other collectives.

Christy Petropoulou
December 2019


Bourdieu P., 1972. Outline of a theory of practice; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wacquant L., 2016. A concise genealogy and anatomy of habitus The Sociological Review, Vol. 64, 64–72.

Petropoulou C., 2019. Can the poetic of commoning change the habitus? Reflexions from Lesvos with a Latin American perspective of urban – regional social movements. In : Gouvias D., Petropoulou C., Tsavdaroglou C., 2019. Contested Borderscapes.Transnational Geographies vis-à-vis Fortress Europe. Invisibles Cities, pp.125-138.

Φρατζή Δ.,2018.

Παπανικολάου Ν., 2017  

Συναυλία 2/11/2019

Photos by: Christy Petropoulou


Mikros Dounias for Lesvos Migration Atlas

The Association 

Mikros Dounias (MD) is a Non-Profit Association based on Lesvos, which was founded in 2017 by residents of the island. The background of its foundation was a series of informal discussions around a playground in the city of Mytilene, which highlighted the need of a group of parents to organize a democratic, outdoor learning community for children of preschool age, regardless of their ethnicity, class or any other status. Some pedagogues joined the discussions, which quickly turned into the weekly assembly that founded the Non-Profit Association for the Promotion of Culture and Environmental Awareness “Mikros Dounias”. The aim of the Association is to contribute to:

– the promotion and introduction of innovative pedagogical practices in the Greek educational system, especially in the fields of inclusive/intercultural education, experiential learning and outdoor pedagogy.

– the harmonious coexistence between locals & refugees[1] on Lesvos.

The weekly assembly, where decisions are made by consensus, has since then been the decision-making tool of the Association.

The pedagogical community

In practice, Mikros Dounias is an open community of learning and (co)creation. Its activities are based on the following three pillars:

a. Free experiential learning

b. Outdoor playing & learning/ Forest pedagogy

c. Equal intercultural coexistence & communication

Based on these pillars, the team of Mikros Dounias organizes:


Α. Daily pedagogical program for children of preschool age.

From October 2017 and on a daily basis, children of local and refugee families play and learn together in the small pine forest of PIKPA refugee camp or in other natural spots. Since then and until the end of 2020, 20 local children and 30 refugee children have received stable, innovative, intercultural preschool education in nature.


B. A variety of activities for children and adults.

Mikros Dounias organizes activities for children and adults, aiming at lifelong learning, equal intercultural coexistence, social osmosis. Excursions, festivals, workshops and seminars strengthen the multicultural community of Mikros Dounias and are often open to the local community.


C. Networking & diffusion of methodological tools.

Great importance is given to the networking with groups and institutions that are active in relative fields. Moreover, to the exchange of knowledge & methodology and to the diffusion of pedagogical tools, which are acquired by the pedagogical team in the field.

A harsh development

A crucial moment for the operation of Mikros Dounias was the eviction of PIKPA open refugee camp on October 30, 2020. Since 2012, PIKPA camp has hosted thousands of vulnerable refugees, with the constant the support, care and struggle of many individuals, collectives, organizations and mainly the organization “Lesvos Solidarity“. Mikros Dounias made its first steps in this friendly environment and, for more than three years, hugged and was hugged by the families who lived and the people who were active there. After the eviction, Mikros Dounias continues its operation in alternative natural spots.

More information

You can get additional information about the project by reading the pedagogical texts, the newsletters or by watching the official videos. Please contact us on

[1] For reasons of word economy and ease of reading, we refer to the populations moving through Lesvos, refugees, immigrants, asylum seekers with the term “refugees”.

Mikros Dounias
May 2020

Photographs from the activities of ‘Mikros Dounias’




Our Mosaik Support Centre started in July 2016 in collaboration with Borderline Europe, in response to the need for sustainable support structures for refugees and locals after the entry into force of the EU-Turkey deal. In March 2019, Lesvos Solidarity took over full responsibility for operations at Mosaik. Mosaik is a beautiful meeting point for refugees and locals to interact and get together right in the center of Mytilini.



Mosaik Support Center has kept its virtual doors open for all throughout the lockdown; online classes in Greek and English continued to be offered. Today Mosaik is once again opening its doors, taking all of the necessary precautions to keep our people healthy, while supporting our community in the best way possible. Since it doors are open again, Greek, English, together with the new Arabic and IT lessons are running accordingly.



Humade Crafts Workshop continues to champion the importance of respecting and protecting the environment, and people, through workshops and the production of engaging YouTube videos. The workshops have provided a creative outlet for individuals while concurrently enabling the team to safely share the critical message of reusing and reviving discarding items.



Safe Passage Bags stand in solidarity with migrants arriving in Europe and we aim at protecting the environment since 2015. We up- cycle materials to create handmade bags and crafts, providing training and job opportunities for refugees and locals in Lesvos.



Our latest project focuses on two main goals of LeSol’s mission: to provide community-based solidarity spaces where it can offer dignified shelter and support to people in need, and to promote integration by developing skills and knowledge, creating job opportunities, and connecting with local society. An abandoned private building is renovated by a team, where local professionals train refugees in construction work, while they also receive language and computer classes, individualized support for bureaucratic and administrative needs, life skills, and employment coaching. Following the completion of the renovation this building will be a part of the Housing Programe and host vulnerable refugees.



n collaboration with mental health professionals, educators and artists, based on the principles of human rights, we develop and implement psychoeducational activities, through experiential learning approaches for the empowerment of the person and the community. Our program aims to give the tools to the people and the communities to manage the challenges that they are facing in favor of the democratic principles.