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Our Stories: Blogger Marija Markovic

By some estimates, there are more than 60 million refugees on the move today, more than at any time in modern history.  As always, children make up a significant part of that number. So it’s more important than ever that we support the kind of work being done in refugee camps like Skaramangas in Athens, Greece. We’re grateful that blogwriting volunteer Marija Markovic is covering such efforts.  She recently wrote about Play for Peace mentors Swati and Agyat who completed 20 Practice Peace sessions, engaging 20 children from the Skaramangas refugee camp. Here, Play for Peace is collaborating with the NOSTOS organization in Greece. Children here have fled from Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. So unlike most Play for Peace situations, each child has a truly unique background. As Marija says, “The kids just had to put dreams on pause because of the situation that led them to the camp. But they still find space for cherishing each other, and together with volunteers and trainers, they are smiling and welcoming each new day.” Adolescents are particularly hard to motivate as they know the reality of their situation. The most beautiful moments for mentors and volunteers are when they see refugee kids take part in helping others and understand that they can be leaders.

Many of the PFP games involve building trust, problem-solving, and taking initiative, especially important skills for the children to learn. Marija is originally from Serbia and is now living and working in Prague. She came to Play for Peace through the UN website. As she comments, “The fact that the work is mainly focused on children is making me a better volunteer. The biggest investment we can make is to actively participate in developing these small people and to share the beauty of peace with them.” She emphasizes that each of us has the responsibility of contributing to social justice.