I have been here nearly four weeks now, but am only just starting to find my feet. I had heard of Mosaik once or twice, but managed to mildly embarrass myself by asking if it is a café. It turns out it is a refugee community centre situated right in the centre of Mytilini, so I decided to take myself along there this morning, to have a look, and maybe to explore the possibility of doing some work with them.
It turns out to be in a beautiful old building, with a pleasant shady courtyard outside. The floor there is laid with an ancient mosaic path made of pebbles, dating from 1848, and with art and more mosaics on the wall. Which makes for a pleasant personal synchronicity, as anyone who knows me and our garden will be aware. I spoke with Julian, who seemed to be in charge (though I don’t know his official position) and he told me about it. It seems to have evolved as the refugee crisis has gone on – nothing new there – but now deals exclusively with adults, offering language classes, support services and cultural and artistic activities. They have, for example, a hugely successful choir, with around 70 members.
In case you think I appear to be doing theatre projects all over the place, let me explain. The situation here is extremely fluid, with people coming and going all the time. Almost by definition that applies to the refugees, but also the volunteers – I have never been in a place with so many farewell parties – and even the NGOs, which merge, split, start, fold… And as they are run by people, that can create personal tensions, as well as huge generosity. The refugee crisis has created a situation of flux, and there is very little certainty, even within relatively stable organisations such as Better Days and, it seems, Mosaik. So I am reaching out (forgive the new-agey terminology) to various people, and wait to see whether what I can offer has any appeal. And if it doesn’t, that’s fine; I am not here to make people’s difficult lives more difficult.
The chat with Julian was positive, and it certainly looks like a good place to work. I am excited about the possibilities, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.