Arts & crafts, pizza making, cinema nights and day trips, Camille Shneegans co-ordinates them all.
Camille (24, from Brittany, France) on day to day life working with children living at City Plaza and this morning’s trip to The Acropolis:
How do the children’s activities at City Plaza work?
We run activities for the children everyday between 4 and 8pm. For ages 0-18. It’s always good to have a mix of ages, the children need role models and they find them in each other.
Everyone is welcome to help during the activities. Parents of the children, anyone who lives here, volunteers. There are always lots of different languages spoken. I don’t speak perfect English, or Greek, or any of the languages spoken by refugees here. But we communicate. It’s sometimes challenging, but we communicate and try to create activities which mean we can all participate without needing language directly.
3 words to describe working with the children:
Love, sharing, friendship
Why is it important for there to be activities and trips for the children?
When the children create something, they’re really proud of what they’ve made. They want to show their parents, they want everyone to see what they’ve achieved.
The children have so much energy. Having regular, creative and varied activities means that they have positive ways to spend their energy, especially because they don’t go to school.
It’s also important that the children have ways of discovering their tastes. We make sure the activities are varied. Children are able to discover that they have a talent or a passion in sport, sculpture, painting, music, dance etc. (Smiles) I love to see a child fall in love with an activity.
Why do you enjoy working with the children living at City Plaza?
I have so much love for the children, it’s crazy. ‘La vérité sort de la bouche des enfants’ (smiles), children are so honest. And when they smile, really smile, it’s so beautiful. A child’s smile is really priceless.
Really, I’ve learnt more since I’ve been doing this than I ever did at school. The children teach me so much.
How did today’s visit to The Acropolis go?
It went so smoothly! It was really a ‘family day out’. We all held hands with the children, ate a snack together, took photos.
Camille and Hussain (13)
I heard ‘wowww’ so many times today, it was beautiful. To see the children so impressed by what they saw. They were learning, discovering.
It’s so important for us all to have days like today. To breathe. To escape. To not think about anything but the experience and moments that we’re spending together.
How would donations to the City Plaza crowdfunding campaign support the children here?
At the moment we use what we have. I have lots of ideas but we don’t have the money to buy materials, to print. And it’s not often that we’re able to do activities like pizza making or decorating biscuits, they love to do that and to share the food we make!
It would be amazing to be able to buy books in Arabic and Farsi, I’d love the children to be able to read and learn more about things that interest them.
Ooh and of course to be able to go on trips!! To have more days like today. There were 88 of us today. To be able to go somewhere different for an afternoon and be able to afford transport or even to be able to buy a snack or bottles of water would help a lot.
City Plaza is not supported by NGOs, it relies entirely on donations. However small or big your donation, every little will help! Donate here to keep this project going: http://www.youcaring.com/keepcityplazaopen