Keeping the ECHO Mobile Library Wheels Rolling

ECHO mobile library distributes books and learning resources to displaced and vulnerable refugees and migrants in and around Athens.  The project, started by two local people in 2016, offers a small piece of 'hope & normality' in what can otherwise be a chaotic and very difficult time.  People can wait months or years for their asylum claims to be processed and during this time many find their lives are placed 'on hold' without the access to education or books.

The 'library' stocks over 400 books including poetry, thrillers, history books, school textbooks, dictionaries and children's books, and covers more than 6 languages.  As well as books the project also prints and distributes language learning resources to help residents get to grips with basic English and Greek.

Whilst there are a number of centres in Athens offering access to education, reading materials and resources, ECHO focus on delivering their service in more remote refugee camps where there is limited or often no access to education services and resources.

The project has been hugely successful since it began, with over 2,000 book loans.  However, as with many small charities doing great grassroots work, ongoing funding continues to be a challenge. After meeting with the founders to see how Fonthill could help, we are delighted to be supporting the key staffing resource that makes the library happen.  With a small education resources grant, ECHO staff can keep the library wheels rolling and expand the engagement services they offer, including basic language & music lessons.

ECHO founder Becka added "For many, particularly young children, access to the library is their first introduction to books or any sort of routine activity.  For young adults, it is an opportunity to pick up schooling disrupted by conflict and war, and to support their schoolwork.

However it is much more than this.  With parents, grandparents and older friends getting stuck in and working alongside our volunteers to encourage literacy in both mother-tongue languages and Greek, and soaking up knowledge from the array of topics our library stocks, our mobile bus is not only a place to borrow books; it is an intergenerational hub for education, skill-sharing, and community."

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