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 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.
 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”.