ORT Programs in Greece Support Ukrainian Refugees


World ORT is extending its support for Ukrainians through a new program for refugee women and children.

Our ongoing partnership with the Irida Women’s Center in Thessaloniki, Greece, will be expanded to include holistic support for more than 50 Ukrainians. The joint program will help alleviate trauma and displacement they have experienced.

We have been responding to the needs of ORT students, teachers and their families in Ukraine since the conflict began in late February. 

Our operations in Ukraine serve around 3,500 full-time students in seven schools, but more than half of ORT’s Ukraine school family population have left their homes, with the majority seeking shelter abroad. 

Approximately 30,000 Ukrainians have reached Greece – 90 percent of them women and children – and ORT is now extending its partnership with the Irida Women’s Center to support them. A $16,000 grant for programs and support will form part of the arrangement.

Irida’s mission is to protect, empower, and support women and children with increased vulnerabilities to regain ownership of their lives and become agents of change.

The center’s approach emphasizes gender sensitive, culturally aware, and trauma informed initiatives that will help reshape the lives of refugees and ease their integrate within the host community.

Dan Green, World ORT Director General and CEO, said: “I am delighted we have been able to further support the Irida Women’s Center. Our partnership to help Syrian and Afghan women has been inspiring and it was a natural next step to extend the project to support Ukrainian women in this time of great need.

“Our work with the center exemplifies our aim to give people the skills they need for a self-sufficient future. As this protracted, complex conflict continues it will be vital for us all to do everything we can to give Ukrainians the practical support they require.”

Chloe E. Kousoula, Irida’s CEO and Founder, said: “We are extremely grateful to receive this generous grant, which will allow us to provide critical services to Ukrainian women and children forced to flee their homes.”

Irida’s Ukraine response includes a safe community space for women and children, legal counseling and protection services, psychosocial support, Greek language classes twice per week (main image), and a child’s safe space for children of preschool age.

With the center’s experience in working with those displaced by conflict, Irida will assist with issues including anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders, unsafe living conditions and barriers in communication.

There will be an opportunity for supporters to visit the center during our Symposium to Greece and Bulgaria in October. This visit includes time at the ORT school in Sofia, as well as the chance to interact with beneficiaries of the Irida Center.

More details of the symposium are available here, and registration can be completed here.

Ukrainian refugees join women from around the world for a session on human rights at the Irida Center

We established our partnership with the Irida Women’s Center in 2021 to support Syrian and Afghan refugee women and children as well as Africans and other nationalities fleeing to northern Greece. ORT purchased ten sewing machines to be used by women at the center and provided written and visual instructions for Covid mask-making. The center added translations of the text in various languages as needed. The project also provided the materials needed to make masks.