The morning support group has finished but the French and English speaking African moms are still in the mother-baby area, laughing and chatting and exchanging stories. They don’t want to leave. They’ve made friends, they’re comfortable in an all woman’s space and they want the time to stretch on. Soon the Farsi speakers from Afghanistan and Iran start pouring in for the after lunch group and we direct them to another room so as to not to disturb the Africans. The next day, the same thing will happen with the Arabic speakers from Syria and Iraq and we’ll happily adjust once again to their needs.Community, knowledge and empowerment are the keywords of the day at the AMUR
TEL center for mothers and babies in downtown Athens. Thousands of refugee/migrant women have been in Greece for three years or more, having either had their asylum status recognized or still in the lengthy legal process of waiting. They are settling in, making friends and desperately trying to make a life. They are mothers eager to participate in group sessions discussing a wide range of topics related to infant feeding, infant care, and reproductive health, empowering themselves withknowledge and understanding of their bodies and their babies as well as the social norms in this new continent. And yet, the uncertainties of their futures loom large. With 2000-3000 asylum seekers still landing in this country every month, with Greece having the highest unemployment rate in the EU and barely existent national programs for refugees and migrants, with smugglers fanning the flames of the widespread desire to go north, very few want to stay in Greece long term. Many are struggling and depressed while others have found their footing, at least somewhat, and offer assurances of better days that only they can offer to each other.At the end of the day, however, they are mothers, concerned in the here and now for the lives of their children and their families. The stamina and hope that sustains the nearly 7,000 women who have come through our doors since we opened creates support, care and community. And that’s why we are here.