The camp is located in the mountains above Piraeus, in Schisto, a rather remote area on the outskirts of Athens. 200 minors live here with their families in multi-storey containers. They are mainly Kurds, Afghans and Syrians, some also come from Africa.
Some of them have been transferred from the Eleonas camp in the centre of Athens and are now waiting to be resettled.
In the last few days, a group from "Youth for Peace" returned from Rome and Würzburg to visit them: with parties, gifts and shared lunches, they brought the "Christmas for all" there too. Days full of encounters and emotions, as is clear from their report:
"Don't forget me. It is a small woolly elephant, among handfuls of sweets, a scarf and some bracelets. You see it and immediately understand that it carries a message, a bottle in the sea of despair that is the Schisto refugee camp. Because for the many children who have been living here for years of identical days, as for elephants, memory and memories are everything.
Aisha is Muslim, but the little elephant in her hands is a Christmas gift for Marco, whom she met two years ago in the Eleonas refugee camp and now meets again, together with some other Youth for Peace, in the Schisto camp. The blue bib of Sant'Egidio, a small certificate of participation in the School of Peace, the markers; these are the lasting and tangible memories that children like Aisha carry with them, stored in the shelves of their hearts or carefully preserved in the corners of the prefabricated blocks that make up the refugee camp. They are the memories of those who have not forgotten them, snapshots of joy that you see resurface when, months after our last visit, they start singing the songs we taught them in July as soon as they recognise us
These are moments when you realise that little bit of time you have spent in the dusty streets of the refugee camp, where everything seems motionless and unchanging, is instead so much for the hundreds of kids who draw strength from that memory every day. As everything in Schisto is a silent cry of resignation.
'We want to go to school, we want to study,' the older children tell us, as they marvel at the tanks of the Athens Aquarium. You see them there, their eyes following an elusive octopus, and you can't help but imagine the journey that led them to Greece, among the waves of the Aegean. And you think back to their desire to learn, while with their noses pressed against the glass they seem to try to look beyond that glass ceiling that relegates them there, in a refugee camp on the outskirts of Europe.
We will not forget you. We will return to Rome with our eyes full of your faces when the ice cream arrives, with your cries of enthusiasm still in our ears when you see the brownies at the restaurant; a moment of joy that will keep us going all year long. But above all, we will return to Rome and Würzburg with the desire to do something for you, to work so that new humanitarian corridors will open, and then the doors of a school to welcome you. We will keep the memory and to always be close to you. So we can retrace our steps. Like so many little elephants."