FAROS STAFF PERSPECTIVE: LEFTERIS
Lefteris, a member of staff at Faros Home for Unaccompanied Minors, talks about conquering fears, gaining trust, and saying goodbye.
Reporting & Photography by Talitha Brauer • Editing by Becca Ashton
"One of the main problems that we usually have when a new kid arrives is to gain their trust; they usually are very suspicious. But the moment they feel loved—you cannot imagine—the whole world opens up. They will seek you out, they will do whatever you tell them, literally anything, from getting stuff, to going to class.
The unaccompanied minors are also very, very strong. They have all these vulnerabilities, but at the same time they are strong, like, they’re on their own, doing fine in a way. They are refugees, they have walked far, they have been through a lot of stuff, and they are here.
There is one unaccompanied minor, 11 years old—I don’t know where he is right now. So 11 years old, he walks and goes on his own in the streets. He went from Iraq to here on his own. Imagine how this kid is! He’s vulnerable of course, to people who want to exploit him, to drugs, to sexual experiences, he is vulnerable. But at the same time he’s very strong, yes.
On average, a boy stays here for a season. So the boys that are here in the winter, will probably spend the whole winter here and they will leave when it is better. But in the summer, there is more movement, because it’s easier to travel in the summer.
[If I were one of the boys and] I know that I might leave a week from now, I won't get attached to you, because then I might have to say goodbye. We might spend two months together, but in the end they will not say goodbye, because they did not let themselves create that bond. That’s part of the transit period as well. So some of the boys that are here about six months, and they spend the whole of the six months without knowing from one day to the next whether they will be here the next week, because they are waiting on the smuggler for the family reunification. So, for example, that’s why it’s not easy for them to commit to coming to classes.
So to first make a connection with a boy, like, he spends time with me, he hugs me—you cannot imagine the gratitude that they feel. They are looking for someone to live up to, like a father-figure or an elder-brother figure.
DAILY LIFE IN THE BOYS' HOME
The Faros home has three floors. In the basement is woodworking and sewing facilities where the boys can work with their hands. The first floor has the common areas, the kitchen, and the pool table.
The next floor up has dormitory style rooms, where the boys each have their own bunk with their own drawer and laundry bag. At the top of the house is a storage room for clothes donations and a roof-top garden.
There are three home-cooked meals a day, and a whole set of classes and activities for the boys, including in-house Greek, German, and English lessons and regular times to go to the football field.
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