SCARF is a young foundation recently founded by Steve Gijrath and Ellie Percey in aid of refugees of war in the Middle East.
Our aim is multi-faceted. First, we endeavour to contribute to the effort to collect, supply and distribute clothing and aid through the support and donations and individuals both in the local community and internationally. Second, we are contributing to a volunteer/foundational effort to approach the currently diffuse network of volunteers and groups aimed at education and skills development of refugee children, and create a united network of skilled volunteers willing to share their creative and educative expertise with those who are missing out on such key stages of development.
SCARF's founders worked as independent volunteers on the island of Leros in November and December 2015. Here they worked at the port as part of an emergency response team (providing food, water, clothing and support to the medical organisations), while also volunteering in the refugee camp on the island. At camp, children were entertained by circus-activities, music and art. This is SCARF's inspiration.
SCARF was founded as an organisation focused on collecting clothing and aid in the local area of Amsterdam and Amstelveen in the Netherlands. Since then, the focus of SCARF has developed and adapted to suit the changing situation in Greece, concentrating more on the mental well-being of the refugees of Greece, education (especially the attainment of languages) and creativity.
Since March 20th 2016, Greece has become the temporary home of over 60,000 refugees who await news on their asylum claims and relocation while living in tent camps or exhausted buildings. They wait, in legal limbo, without knowing whether they will successful, or how long they will be waiting to find out. As this seemingly indefinite period of time unfolds, the time since the children were last in education and the adults were leading a productive, active and social life, increases.
The reality of past trauma hits hard, and the emotional trauma and confusion of losing home, family, culture and identity is a daily, even hourly, struggle. The children are desperate to learn, simply to be entertained, but are quickly losing discipline. The adults, whose identity is far more than "refugee", but also "mother, father, wife, husband, sister, brother, daughter, son, professional, academic, friend", receive no recognition for their life and work. This results in depression, anger, frustration, detachment and apathy. Self-harm is increasingly common.