Monthly Archives: January 2016

Suddenly, the people were not humans anymore!

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Scouts and Guides contributing to refugee support activities in their local communities in Europe (41): a very personal story from a Belgian Scout who sept a weekend with his friends at the Grande-Synthe Refugee Camp near Dunkirk (FR)

Together with a group of twelve other Scouts from FOS Open Scouting (one of the National Scout Associations in Belgium and member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement) Annemie, Klaas and Luc had decided to spend a weekend in northern France and to help out at the Grande-Synthe Refugee Camp outside Dunkirk (FR). Here is the very personal story from Klaas of this memorable weekend.

The “Heroes in Red” help create a better world for refugees

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Scouts and Guides contributing to refugee support activities in their local communities in Europe (40): a story about the activities run by the Scout Association of Macedonia at the border in Tabanovce (MK)

After thousands of kilometres on the road, in dinghies and boats, in buses and overloaded trains, frequently moving form one means of transport to another, and often walking for days, refugees and migrants “finally” arrive at the border crossing in Tabanovce. Thousands of them, each with their own story, why and how they left home, determined to get to their final destination, which they quite often do not know where it would be.

It is in Tabanovce, where Scouts from Сојуз на извидници на Македонија (SIM), the Scout Association of Macedonia, have been involved in refugee and migrant support activities aver since the flow of people began seeking better futures elsewhere. Quite early, they got organised and formed a special Scout Emergency Team, which coordinates the different support activities.

“With each bottle of water, warm meal, pair of socks we hand to them whilst getting off the train, it felt like giving them strength to go on”, says Milan Petrusevski, one of the Scouts.

Working with volunteers from other organisations, the Scouts are doing everything that is in their power to help the refugees and migrants during their transit through Macedonia in a safe and fast manner.

So far, members of the Scout Emergency Team have provided medical help to refuges and offered moral support. They have put up road signs to direct them towards the border of Serbia, so that the transit is easier and securer. In Tabanovce, the team set up an information desk, where refugees and migrants can find answers to their questions and seek advise. The Scouts helping out at the Info Desk are easily recognisable with their red jackets.

“While preforming our everyday routine, assisting those who come to the food stand, I could not help but notice one of the children hunched nearby. The boy was alone, no one around him and shaking from the cold. I approached him, gave him some food and water. But I could not leave him like that so I gave him my hat and my gloves, too. He whispered something to me, but I couldn’t understand what he said, so one of the older refugees translated it to me. The little kid was thankful for the “heroes in red”, recalled one of the members of the Scout Emergency Team.

In order to ease the refugees’ transit through the country, other Scouts have dedicated their time and help run various activities, such as collecting food, clothes, toiletry articles and toys. Across Macedonia, many local Scout Groups are involved in this type of refugee support activities. They are also helping bringing the collected items to the different distribution centres, through which refugees and migrants pass on their way to the Serbian border.

“These activities demonstrated that both our Scouts and the local communities across the country are ready and willing to support”, comments Viktor Petrusevki, from the Scout Emergency Team, “The biggest reward we get is a “Thank you.” Two small words, uttered with a mild smile, but with eyes full of fear of what has happened, the horror they have lived through and the uncertainty of what might lie in front of them.”

What had started in 2015 for the Scouts of Macedonia as spontaneous organised volunteering in support of refugees and migrants, with a clear focus on logistical and coordination activities, has since become a daily routine. It is all for that one cause: helping to create a better world!

“And as the days go by, the river of refugees keeps on flowing. The cold and rainy days fail to keep us away from our tasks, so we keep on being there: we continue meeting thousands of new faces, brief encounters that leave huge impressions.”

“Sometimes we find the joy and beauty of volunteering in places that cannot be seen with the naked eye. At the end of the day the most important thing is to keep that spark of hope each one of us feels burning and give more reasons to keep it lit.”

(c) Picture and contributing authors: Angjela Nikolikj, Vlatko Kostovski, Сојуз на извидници на Македонија

This smile and gentle gesture tells us more than a thousand words!

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Scouts and Guides contributing to refugee support activities in their local communities in Europe (39): a story from the Island of Lesvos in Greece (GR)

There may be lousy weather in Mytilene on the Greek island of Lesvos, where local Scouts have been very actively involved in refugee and migrant support activities for more than a year now: on the beaches and shores, on the streets and squares of Mytilene, or in the different refugees centres around the island.

So, this weekend, Venture and Rover Scouts from the two local groups, 3o ΣΥΣΤΗΜΑ ΝΑΥΤΟΠΡΟΣΚΟΠΩΝ ΜΥΤΙΛΗΝΗΣ and 2ο ΣΥΣΤΗΜΑ ΠΡΟΣΚΟΠΩΝ ΜΥΤΙΛΗΝΗΣ (members of Ελληνικός Προσκοπισμός and the World Organization of the Scout Movement decided to spend the few hours of their weekly meeting with children and young people.

These children are currently staying in a hotel in the Gulf of Geras near Mytilene, which was recently opened for families who need special attention and care. They may be relatives of victims of shipwrecks, from broken families, suffer from disabilities or particular health problems.

This special refugee centre is run by Caritas Greece whose staff and volunteers were very happy to welcome the Scouts for an afternoon.

While some Scouts played and sang with the children and young people others help sort donated clothes and toiletry articles.

And before leaving the Centre and having been (once again) overwhelmed by the reactions and feedback from the children, the Scouts agreed with Caritas Greece to come back in the future and to regularly offer afternoons with games, singing, painting and handy crafts!

So, what about you? Are you and your Scouts involved in similar activities? Share your stories and let us know what kind of challenges you had to cope with!

Find more pictures from this afternoon in the photo album of Stratis Balaskas, journalist and Scout Leader in Mytilene on Lesvos.

Scouting in Catalonia helps local refugee support activities

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Scouts and Guides contributing to refugee support activities in their local communities in Europe (38): a story from the Minyons Escoltes i Guies de Catalunya in Spain (ES)

Each year, the Minyons Escoltes i Guies de Catalunya (MEG), one of the member associations of the Federació Catalana d’Escoltisme i Guiatge (FCEG), donates about 1% of its internal annual revenues in support of a specific cause.

This year, following an association-wide competition (during which members can name their prefered cause or organisation they would like to see supported), it was decided to donate some EUR 9000 to the “Speak about Rights” project of the local refugee support association Stop Mare Mortum and the International Civil Service of Catalonia.

Earlier this month, MEG was pleased to announce that the total amount to be donated was EUR 9384.29 – eactly 1% of the internal revenues of the association gained in the fiscal year 2014-2015 (including a small amount of unused funds from the previous exercise).

“The project selected by the jury from the long list of proposals is called Speak about Rights. Tools for better understanding of and actions against the refugee and migrant crisis.”, explains Tomàs Genís Galofré, MEG’s International Commissioner, “The aim of this project is to make the situation of refugees and migrants visible through education and awareness rising. It intends not only to make the present situation known more widely, but also to help identify appropriate actions to address its causes. It develops and offers tools to advocate for social change where citizens may be encourage to be more involved in to asylum, refugee and migration issues.”

The two associations behind the project will develop both formal and non-formal educational resources which will enable children and young people, including Scouts and Guides, to understand better the relaities refugees and migrants are confronted with.

“In addition,” adds Tomàs, “our Federation FCEG offers our local Scout and Guide Groups a regularly updated special refugee resource section on its website. This includes specific aims and objectives, updates about relevant actions by WOSM and WAGGGS, network partners and, most importantly, appropriate educational resources for the work with children and young people.”

(text provided by Minyons Escoltes i Guies de Catalunya)

Regional Circular 2 2016 – Call for Partners: Erasmus+ Projects for RoverNet&VentureNet and for the Academy 2016 (deadline: 26 Jan 2016)


This circular provides you with information on the next two applications for which your NSO/NSA can be partners: (a) the RoverNet&VentureNet Network Meeting and (b) the Academy 2016. Both events are scheduled to take place in autumn 2016 in Italy (RoverNet&VentureNet) and in Cyprus (Academy 2016), respectively.

To be able to be a partner in these projects, please check carefully the requirements below and follow all the steps described. The two applications will be submitted at national level by the hosting NSOs.

Please note that very tight deadline to return the duly completed mandates and/or forms: 26 January 2016. More specific information for each of the calls can be found in the circular and its annexes.

  • Regional Circular 2 2016 – Call for Project Partner: Erasmus+ Projects for RoverNet&VentureNet and for the Academy 2016 (in English, in French)
  • Regional Circular 2 2016 Annex A – Mandate RoverNet&VentureNet (in English only)
  • Regional Circular 2 2016 Annex A – Mandate Academy 2016 (in English only)