„Bags Mohajer“ is a project of mainly Afghani underaged refugees. Many of them worked in Iran as tailors earning money to enable them to travel to Greece. In „Villa Azadi“ the asylum seekers make bags out of clothes which are donated to the camp. 99% of the kids are boys therefore most of the bags made are from women’s clothes. Through their tenacious creativity they transform these discarded garments into a variety of bags. Additionally, they use material from deflated and discarded rubber dinghy boats from the beaches in Lesvos. A great majority of these dinghy boats were used by the refugees themselves when they travelled through adverse conditions from Turkey to Greece. The dinghy boats were mostly overloaded and in poor condition thus forcing the immigrants to risk their lives to arrive in Greece. On top of these problems, a lot of dinghy boats were destroyed by Frontex (the European Border Agency) or by the refugees themselves on arrival in Greece, so Frontex wouldn’t be able to send them straight back. From the dinghy boats they create laptop bags, wallets, sports bags and other bag varieties. The refugees also recycle plastic clips from the life jackets they used on their journey to Greece.
The asylum seekers live in „Villa Azadi“ which is one of eight reception centres for unaccompanied minors in Greece and also one of the newest. With 96 beds it covers one third of the official housing capacity for underage refugees. Villa Azadi is a state run reception centre, financed by the European Refugee Fund (ERF) and under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. The building and housing programmes are run by the state run foundation “Theomitor” while the 17 person team is employed by the co-operating local NGO “Iliaktida”. It supplies basic needs (housing, nutrition, clothing), legal and social councilling, medical support and language training. Professionals include social anthropologists, a sociologist, a social worker, a lawyer, a psychologist, pedagogical employees, interpreters, cooks, a doctor and a nurse. The reception centre is located in central Lesvos, 5 km from the mountain village Agiasos and approx. 40 km far from Mitilene, the island’s capital.