Samothraki: Deep connection to Germany

Zathay Social Cooperative was the first social enterprise on the island of Samothraki in Northern Greece. What started with two little shops and continued to be a place of exchange had to be closed in 2017 – but some of the members took it as chance to switch the focus to non-formal education and the topics Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection. Project manager Maria Pitiakoudi tells agorayouth about the organisations‘ story and the islands‘ connection to southern Germany.

Agorayouth: Tell us a little bit about Zathay Social Cooperative in Samothraki: What is your work about?
Maria Pitiakoudi: Zathay Social Cooperative was founded in 2015 – initially by five close friends, then two more friends were added. We founded the first social enterprise of the island in order to create our own business based on solidarity, cooperation, fun and sharing. The opportunities to find a job here are limited so we needed to create our own opportunities. The first three years we made a contract with the municipality and we started to run a coffee shop and a mini market where we promoted local products in the Camping of Platia. The business was successful, we had a job, an income and we managed to give a job to eleven other unemployed young locals.

The shops were transformed in a hot spot for alternative tourism, a place of meeting and exchanging, an open space of expression of every kind of art, a working desk for professional nomads and a scientific and educational meeting point. We organised and hosted for example wellness seminars, art festivals or music events. Also, we supported summer universities, educational seminars and discussions for various social and environmental local pressure. We promoted solutions for recycling, waste and water management. Unfortunately the municipality never renewed our contract even though our business was a great success and it could thrive further due to political local pressure. So it was a bitter end for our creativity. But we never stop to dream and create, so we transformed the obstacles into new adventures.


»Access to internet connection and computer devices is a privilege«

Michail Chatzimimikos from Youth Empowerment Center in Thessaloniki tells Agorayouth what they leant during the pandemic in terms of reaching underprivileged youngsters and why they want to get involved in German-Greek youth exchange.

Agorayouth: Michail, tell us a little bit about Youth Empowerment Center in Thessaloniki. What is your work about? 
Michail Chatzimimikos: Youth Empowerment Center is a youth organization actively working with young people between 17 to 26 years old in Thessaloniki. We are mainly reaching young people with fewer opportunities, young people who are dealing with certain social and economical obstacles as well as youngsters with a migrant and/or refugee background. Recently, we have also established contact with a group of Roma youngsters.

Our main aim is to support our youngsters’ active youth participation while facilitating their learning development in thematic fields the formal education field is not covering and only the youth work sector does, for example human rights education or civic education. So our work involves one to one meetings, group work through the implementation of non-formal activities and workshops on various topics of their choice, as well as assistance for developing and implementing their own activities. Those projects are not only restricted in our national reality as we are really active in the field of international youth work through the Erasmus+ programme. At the moment two groups are running their own International Youth Exchange projects and we are excited to support them on implementing them.


„You only need one person to change your life“

The majority of people that arrived 2018 in Greece came from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. Thousands of them are children. In an educational program in Athens Marianna-Sofia Matziri (26) and Alexandra Kamaretsou (25) teach them. What it means to deal with traumas, depression and panic attacks of the kids on a daily basis they have shared with agorayouth.


Alexandra Kamaretsou (25, left) and Marianna-Sofia Matziri (26) work in Athens with refugee and immigrant children.

Agorayouth: Alexandra, tell us a little bit more about the educational program you work in.
Alexandra Kamaretsou:
The organisation Elix supported by UNICEF and funded by the European Commission started the project on quality learning and Non-Formal Education in October 2017. With the project we want to provide day-to-day coverage of the educational needs of refugee and immigrant children aged 3 to 17 and contribute to the smooth integration into the formal education system in Attica and Greece. Weiterlesen