Carry the Future is 100% volunteer run by a worldwide network of dedicated staff who work daily to ensure that our organization is strong and growing, and all the while it is supported by the over 6,000 volunteers active throughout four continents of the world. With our volunteers and staff and your generous donations, we are aware of immediate needs and are able to consistently provide aid on the ground to refugees living in Europe, the Middle East, and beyond. We are proud to begin sharing some of the amazing work that you have helped us do in our new series, On the Ground.

There’s a camp near Athens, Greece that is home to more than 3,500 refugees. These are individuals who left everything they knew behind and faced enormous adversity on their road to finding safety.

Many of these refugees are women: mothers, sisters, daughters and wives who are struggling to make a new life, raising children and often holding families together on their own – all the while mourning everything they have lost and adapting to a completely new way of living.

Every single day, these women show great courage in the face of the largest humanitarian crisis of our time. There’s no question that these ladies are fierce, strong and beautiful, however they lament the days back in their homeland, where there could go to their local salon for an aesthetic pick-me up. As women, we know our sense of appearance can be closely connected to our confidence and self-esteem. Often, if we look better, we feel better. It’s a creature comfort that many of us take for granted.

What if there was a way to deliver a renewed sense of community, confidence and dignity?

Rita Continakis, one of our Carry the Future staff members, did just that. Rita took a simple idea and turned it into a meaningful and hugely needed experience for the women of this camp.

 

 

What motivated you to establish the Women’s Center?

I would visit regularly and talk with a lot of ladies. They always complimented me on my hair and nails, and expressed how they wished they could have their hair done in a salon just like they did back home in Syria. This got me thinking, and I said ‘why can’t I give them this space’?

How were you able to complete the project?

It wasn’t easy. It took 9 months of planning and collecting money, but I finally did it. I had to purchase the isobox, which is a container style space, in which the salon operates – as well as find volunteers willing to help paint, assemble furniture and of course donate supplies. We secured female hairdressers living in the camp to help – and of course, all services are free of charge.

Why is the women’s center so important?

It is extremely important, because the women here have nowhere to go within the camp aside from their own spaces or to pick up food during distribution. Many ladies are living in the camp with only their children and don’t feel comfortable leaving to go shopping or even for a walk. Their days are spent somewhat confined.Hair-styling was not my only goal for this project. I wanted to give the ladies a space of their own. I wanted a space where they could get their hair done, but also talk with others, have a cup of tea and escape their everyday routine. Thanks to Carry the Future, who funded the children’s corner in the Center, there’s an area with toys, coloring books, and a TV. Children can have some fun while their moms are being pampered.
Photos via Rita Continakis