Our garden project at the Language Center offers our students serenity and peace of mind. Just a short distance from the Vial Refugee Camp in Chios, Greece, the garden is worlds apart from the overcrowded camp. It provides a haven to our students from the stressful and difficult situation they face daily in their quest for asylum.

How It All Began

An entrepreneurial volunteer of ours noticed a student transplanting mint for the purposes of flavoring his tea, and he thought, why don’t we have a garden. The property leased by our collaborative partners at the Language Center includes significant land. Before long, we had agreed with the Center and with the landlord’s blessing, we began planting our first crop.

Peace of Mind

Many of our students have been through extremely traumatic experiences. Planting and caring for the garden, along with the harvesting of the fruits of our labor is, we hope, therapeutic.

Fostering Friendships 

Good folks from across nationalities are working together in our field, so that we are fostering friendships that may prove helpful to our students presently and in the future. And, perhaps, because of these efforts, by some small measure we are helping to quell tensions that sometimes fire up between groups in the camp.

The Greek Island’s Microclimate Keeps Us Busy

Chios offers gardeners 8-9 months of opportunity via its spring/summer and fall/winter gardening seasons. A little creativity has allowed us to find value-added projects to keep us busy all year round. For instance, we have built a trellis for climbing plants; we have created a compost bin; and we have harvested and processed olives using old world methods.

Volunteers to CESRT are welcome to help us with the Garden Project at the Language Center, and donations are appreciated and put to groundbreaking use as well.