10 questions with: Vittoria Morrone (22) / Carles Blanco (31)
From: Turin, Italy / Barcelona, Spain
At City Plaza since: 11.16 / 09.16
- 3 words to describe your experience living at City Plaza:
Sharing, learning, diversity
Sharing, empathy, love
2. How does the Clothing Distribution Group work?
There is a big need for clothes for the people here, especially in the winter. People often arrive without enough proper clothing.
The clothing donations are sent to a distribution center in Elliniko (most are sent from Spain). We collect them from there and bring them to City Plaza. We also receive small donations from locals.
We distribute the clothes to the people living here 3 times a week. One day is for children, one for men and one for women.
We have organised a kind of ’boutique’. Of course, everyone is free to choose which clothes they prefer. I love to help them decide (laughs), I give everyone fashion advice.
Clothing and shoes organised into reused fruit boxes
3. What are the challenges you have faced working in this group?
Actually, one issue is that we often have more clothes than we need. It’s difficult to organise what we have. Some clothes are old and must be thrown away, some must be washed.
It’s always a challenge to decide how to organise the items. We have to make sure that the first people to arrive don’t take all the best clothes. We have to keep things fair and organised. After each distribution it feels like we have to reorganise chaos.
It’s not an easy job to work out how to distribute the clothes and organise the space.
Carles and Vittoria organising clothes before distributing men’s clothes this afternoon
4. How will money raised through the City Plaza crowdfunding campaign support the Clothing Distribution Team?
It would make so much difference if we had the budget to buy storage units or clothing rails. At the moment we use old fruit boxes.
Having access to a mode of transport to be able to redistribute excess clothing to other refugee accommodation spaces in Athens and to collect the clothes from Elliniko would make a huge difference.
5. Why did you come to City Plaza?
I was passing through Athens when I met some people who were working with refugees here. And I started to meet refugees who were living in other squats.
I heard about City Plaza and I was curious. I wanted to know more about what was happening here and then I started to live and work here. It’s the best place to spend my time. I listen to a lot of stories here, everyone here has interesting lives, more interesting than of anyone I’ve met before. I love to share my time with people here.
I finished my degree (Vittoria studied Psychology at Turin University). I was in a ‘lost’ moment in my life. I knew I needed to have a new experience that would change my perspective of the world.
One of my friends told me about City Plaza. I booked a flight without thinking for 2 days time. Coming here was the best decision I’ve ever made.
6. What does City Plaza mean to you?
I grew up in a big city. Sometimes in a big city you can feel really alone. For example you have to call your friends on the phone to organise meeting. But here, you just have to open your door and for sure you will find a friend in front of you and something to do.
So, for me City Plaza is a refuge. I feel safe. I trust everyone here. And most of all, I never feel alone. For me City Plaza is a place of self-discovery and a place where I have learnt to open my mind and trust the people in front of me.
7. How would you describe day to day life at City Plaza?
It’s always an adventure.
Yes, when I wake up I know during the day I’ll discover something new. There is always work to find and do. The beauty of day to day life here is that you never know who you’ll end up spending your time with.
8. Why is it important for City Plaza to stay open?
I remember when I was a child, I used to go to our neighbours’ houses all the time. We’d all go to each others’ houses, eat together, cook together. We’d share everything… That doesn’t happen so much anymore.
City Plaza is an example of real community life in the center of a city. Of course it relies on donations but we are as self-sufficient as we can be with what we have.
This is a place where everyone lives in dignity.
Refugees living in dignity is so important. If City Plaza closed it would be like saying, ‘ok, we accept that the horrible conditions in camps are the only way to welcome refugees into Europe’. Here at City Plaza, we really say ‘welcome’ to refugees.
9. City Plaza relies entirely on donations from around the world, why is solidarity important?
This place is very rare, very precious. It is an example of how alternatives to the camps can exist. Solidarity through donations mean that people even from far away can support this project to continue.
In this world the root of war and conflict is always inequality. I believe that we must share what we have and support one another.
10. How long will you stay at City Plaza?
I don’t know. As long as I feel useful and that I have the energy (it’s not easy always to have this) to be here, I will be here. I think it makes more sense for me to be here than to be working or travelling.
I don’t know either (smiles). When I arrived here my plan was to stay for just 1 week. Then I decided I’d stay for a month. And now, I’ve been here for 2 months and 10 days.
Right now I don’t feel that I have a strong reason to leave. I feel very good here. I can’t imagine leaving City Plaza.
City Plaza Refugee Accommodation Space relies entirely on donations from around the world. For this project to continue, City Plaza needs your support: http://www.youcaring.com/keepcityplazaopen