Action from Switzerland (AfS) is a non-profit organisation based in Zürich that believes in solidarity with our fellow human beings being displaced by violence, conflict and persecution. Our work is focused on ensuring that everyone is able to exercise their rights, in dignity, regardless of their race, language or religion.
We pay special attention in defending the rights and needs of the extra vulnerable displaced, especially women and girls, in order to combat exploitation and gender based violence and promote women’s rights and social inclusion.
Our projects are all developed with the objective of delivering a dynamic response to the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War 2.
We are also thoroughly committed to amplifying the voices of those displaced by maintaining a strong advocacy policy on the inhumanity of the situation on the ground in Greece and the political disaster causing breaches of human rights happening on a daily basis.
On 20th July 2016, Action From Switzerland opened the Athena Centre for Women.
The Athena Centre for Women is the first women-only space outside of the camps in Greece.
The vision for this centre revolves around the concept of creating a “safe space” which will offer women the opportunity to enrich their lives, recover their sense of identity which has been lost during the crisis. Besides empowerment and educational activities, the Centre will also function as a hub from where specific needs – legal/psychological/female health – of the women refugee population of Chios, will be addressed, with empowerment and educational activities.
EXTRA VULNERABLE INDIVIDUALS
While we are generally focused on women, Action from Switzerland also works with extra vulnerable individuals. We carry out a thorough assessment in the field to ensure that their cases are highly vulnerable before we take them on. Their needs and human rights are met while they are in Chios. Our scope of EVIs include LGBTQi, single parents, the elderly, the disabled and unaccompanied minors.
For more information: FAQs
Action from Switzerland (AfS) is fiercely independent and runs entirely on private donations. We do not receive money from governments, so no amount is too small.
As a recognised non-profit based in Zürich, all donations to AfS are tax-deductible.
All donations are used to pay for the running of the Athena Centre for Women which includes rent, electricity, water, toiletries, sanitary equipment, and cleaning, as well as shelter for volunteers and a stipend for our long term Field Coordinator.
SHELTER FOR VOLUNTEERS AND COORDINATOR EXPENSES
None of our work on Greece would be possible without our volunteers and a long term field coordinator. Not only do our volunteers run our Women’s Centre, they also work in cooperation with other groups on the island. In return, Action from Switzerland provides volunteers who stay more than 30 days a shared house where they can safely reside after a long day/night.
The field coordinator is based long term on Chios as not only is he/she responsible for maintaining the relationships with all the other NGOs on the island in order for us to offer effective and coordinated aid, he/she is also responsible for the case management of extra vulnerable families and individuals, as we believe in maintaining a stable presence for them. In light of these responsibilities and length of stay, Action from Switzerland covers the field coordinator’s transportation and provides a small monthly stipend to subside his/her living costs.
Our only administrative costs are the website. Action from Switzerland is non-profit and fully run by non-salaried volunteers.
UPDATE FROM CHIOS & CALL FOR ACTION!
Over the past month, Souda camp on Chios has been emptied of women.
Most of them now reside in Vial, located 15-20km outside of town, in a village of hostile residents - and no public transport. Vial is infamous for its prison like atmosphere and horrific conditions, and is now approximately 30-40% over its actual capacity.
Overcrowding increases tensions, security risks, and spikes in incidents of sexual assault. Since May 2015, the Greek govt has announced that it will be taking over the management of services for the refugees. The services that the Greek government has promised to provide, are sub par.
There is currently only 1 doctor in Vial, no psychologist, 6 lawyers for over 1300 people.
Over the past month, we've observed a worrying drop of attendance in our centre by 40%. We investigated and found out why: To access the alternative services provided by us, or even making their appointments at the local hospital, the residents of Vial have to take the buses provided by the UNHCR.
Sadly, demand for transportation outstrips the supply. Women have constantly reported being pushed to the ground, hit, groped, sexually harrassed.
Transportation is an essential many of us take for granted in our daily lives, but not for the women on Chios. The misery is still real in this modern-day, political and humanitarian nightmare.
This vital service of an all-women bus will allow them and their families to access essential services, in a safe and dignified manner. They will also be able to reach friendly faces in a safe space, knowing there are people -us - on their side. We will take our responsibility as witnesses even more seriously now and continue to document the conditions and potential human rights violations within Vial, so that we can continue to ensure that their basic rights are adhered to, and are not to be denied or disrespected.
We refuse to let the refugees pay the price for the incompetency and sluggish bureaucracy. With no clear communication or commitment from the responsible authorities on increasing transportation - which might never even happen - WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Watch this video and hear from the women themselves about the importance of the bus! YOU can make this bus for them a reality.
HOW YOU CAN HELP?
We need this bus urgently. Ideally by 1st October.
The 22 seater bus will cost 2200 Euros per month. It will make two return trips from our Centre and Vial, 6 days a week. This means opening up 6336 seats over 24 days and works out to be 2.80 Euros per head. Less than how much a cup of coffee costs in Switzerland.
To donate, please go to: www.youcaring.com/allwomenbusChios
Or fundraise for us. Contact Maya at firstname.lastname@example.org
May their stories charge you to help us solve this problem.
Please donate generously or help us spread the word.
We need volunteers for:
- psychological support for refugees
- legal advice
- leisure activities for unaccompanied minors
- the organization of events for integration purposes
Rahel Moser Volunteer-Coordination
E-mail to email@example.com