The 80 children pose for a group shot before starting their tree-planting on Mount Pentelis. CREDIT: ELIX
The 80 children pose for a group shot before starting their tree-planting on Mount Pentelis. CREDIT: ELIX

Some 80 refugee kids in camps near Athens have taken part in a reforestation program on Mount Pentelis, one of Greece's most famous mountains.

A group of 80 migrant children in the Athens area enjoyed the mild spring weather in Greece after being treated to a trip to Pentelis Mountain to take part in a volunteer tree-planting project. 

Children's 'first visit to Greek mountains' 

The children, between 6 and 16 years old, had been invited to plant young oak trees on one of Athens' three famous mountains as part of an initiative organized by the NGO ELIX called "Education for Inclusion: Qualitative Learning and Non-formal Education for Children, Refugees and Immigrants in Greece." 

For most of the children, who are staying at both the Eleonas and Skaramagas camps, it was the first time they had visited any of Greece's mountainous areas and taken part in tree planting.

"With this initiative we are continuing the long history of ELIX's voluntary actions for the protection of the environment," ELIX founder Eleni Gazi told reporters. She added that they had focused on this since the start of their activities in 2015, especially as concerns children and refugees, ''in terms of education and involving them in the whole experience." 

Gazi commented that many of those who took part said they "would visit their trees in a few years to see how much they had grown." 

3,000 kids total since 2015 

So far over 3,000 children have benefited from the ELIX program, attending an overall more than 25,000 hours of teaching in the six training centers - including the Skaramangas, Eleonas and Patision Centers - as well as within schools in the Municipality of Athens. This latest ELIX project kicked off in October 2017 and ran until last month.

The final event was attended by the coordinator of UNICEF's refugee and immigration response in Greece, Lucio Melandri. "With the successful completion of the third cycle and renewing our cooperation with UNICEF, ELIX organized this voluntary action of reforestation on Pentelis Mountain in collaboration with the Association of Municipalities for the Protection and Reformation of Pentelis (PAP), and the Penteli Forest,'' he noted. 

Although Greece's handling of the ongoing migrant crisis continues to draw harsh criticism from NGOs and human rights groups, there are also positive news amid the gloom of overcrowded camps and slow asylum processes.

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