About Pikpa camp
Pikpa camp is an independent, open refugee camp in Mytilini, Lesvos (Greece). It is a community-based space, built on the principles of solidarity, empowerment and active participation.
In Pikpa camp a new way of being together, embedded in local society, is being created. Above all, we want to build an environment where people can find dignity, love, safety and respect. Pikpa camp offers a sense of belonging, home and community.
Keeping a feeling of safety and trust in Pikpa camp is our main concern. Pikpa camp's residents are among the most vulnerable refugees in the island; people who suffer from serious medical conditions, victims of torture and violence, large families with children, pregnant women, newborns, LGBTI people, lone women and men, and victims of shipwrecks who lost loved ones at sea.
Pikpa's capacity is 100-120 people, though it has hosted hundreds more during times of emergency. The population changes all the time depending on: the duration of asylum applications, the speed of the referrals process to Pikpa camp, the number of new arrivals to the island, the conditions in and capacity of other hosting sites, as well as individual and family needs.
A great number of refugees has been hosted in Pikpa camp. We estimate that since 2012 over 30,000 individuals stayed in Pikpa camp.
Clothes Shelter, Food,
Activities School & Educational
On and Off Camp Events & Activities
Pikpa Camp Activities Beyond
There currently are 16 wooden houses, 3 rooms in the main building, and 6 emergency shelters. A team of volunteers, residents and staff work daily to ensure all shelters are fully equipped and prepared for the season.
We distribute 25-30 food baskets three times a week, between 300 and 360 a month. To give back a feeling of dignity, control and family life, residents cook food in their shelters or in the camp’s communal kitchen. We aim to have locally produced goods, using olive oil and dairy products from local cooperatives and vegetables grown by the island’s farmers.
If they are in need of clothes, residents can visit “Pikpa boutique”, a clothes distribution space
run by volunteers. We also distribute hygienic items on a weekly basis from the “Pikpa kiosk”.
The onsite medical team consists of two full-time nurses, and can offer physiotherapy to the camp's residents. We also have a volunteer doctor in the team who works in the local health care system and who regularly visits the camp.
Upon arrival all residents receive a medical screening, daily follow up and an adapted nutrition program. We provide children’s vaccinations in the camp and we support in accessing medical care from the local hospital and clinics. We cover the costs of medicines, medical tests, examinations and visits to clinics or the hospital, including transportation.
We have both a full-time, onsite psychologist and social worker, as well as offsite specialists in trauma, mental health issues, torture, trafficking and Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) cases. To try to ease the trauma residents might carry, we also offer soft intervention psychosocial support by developing daily routine, giving purpose to time spent waiting on the island and offering opportunities to integrate into camp life and broader Greek society. Activities in our camp (like construction or carpentry, breadmaking and gardening) and in our Mosaik Support Centre give opportunities to learn and share skills and expertise, work alongside volunteers and other residents and actively take part in the community.
We are not part of the official registration process, which falls under the responsibility of the state. However, we support our residents during their registration process and during their asylum procedure with our reception service and with transportation.
We collaborate with one lawyer who supports a limited number of cases of Pikpa camp residents and people who participate in activities at Mosaik. We have limited funds to cover the costs of a certain number of court cases and legal actions.
We are proud that the children in Pikpa camp were the first refugee children in Lesvos to get access to Greek schools, back in 2013. For the children below school age, or who are not able to go to school, we run a daily activities programme on camp, based on the principles of “learning by play”.
Since the summer of 2017 w have also collaborated with Mikros Dounias, a joint venture with educators in Lesvos, which offers preschool activities to refugee children and local children, inside Pikpa camp. Mikros Dounias is built on the values of equality and integration, respect, freedom of choice, care for the natural environment and solidarity.
For adults we run language support classes, taught by volunteers and residents, and ad hoc workshops. Residents also have access to the classes at our Mosaik Support Centre.
Our onsite, outdoor gym park and twice-weekly offsite football games encourage healthy living and team activity. Thanks to the efforts of long-term volunteers, we are able to offer activities such as yoga, dancing, arts clubs, music sessions, storytelling and swimming lessons for adults and children, and more. Common celebrations, with food and music, are also a very important part of everyday community life in Pikpa camp.
Our residents also have access to our Mosaik Support Centre, which we launched in July 2016 in the centre of Mytilene. Accessible to local Greeks, refugees from all over the island and international volunteers, Mosaik offers language and computer classes, craft workshops, cultural events, choirs for adults and children, yoga and more.
Activities, cultural events, workshops and classes all form part of our efforts to provide psychosocial support to our residents as well the thousands of other refugees trapped on the island.
We continue to respond to the needs in the island, both for refugees and locals, as they arise. Our food and clothes distribution is not only available for our residents but also to locals in need, and refugees living outside Pikpa camp. For example, during severe weather conditions in January 2017, we distributed 500 sleeping bags, clothes and tents to refugees in several sites on the island. Following the 6.2 magnitude earthquake in June 2017, which left 800 people homeless, we distributed food and non-food items to those affected and we temporarily hosted a local whose house got damaged.
A small team supports the refugees on the Southern shoreline of Lesvos when they arrive on the island after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey.
We also continue to develop actions of solidarity and public awareness raising with and for refugees and locals.