World Refugee Day: Kiwi man who created school for refugees helps students build new life

Many students and teachers were faced with unimaginable challenges to get from their home countries to Athens.
Many students and teachers were faced with unimaginable challenges to get from their home countries to Athens. Photo credit: Supplied.

A Kiwi man who created a school for refugees in Europe has described the harrowing journey many of his students and teachers were confronted with before their arrival.

In 2017, while living in Europe, Chris Jones set up the charity 'Pytheas' Path' after watching the refugee crisis unfold.

Jones said the aim of the charity was to help refugees adapt to European life; offering them a "path to independence".

Many of his students and teachers had to overcome unimaginable challenges to get from their home countries to Athens in Greece where they are now.

"[Some were] forced at gunpoint to make terrible decisions," he told Newshub.

"Crowding into an overcrowded boat at 3am in the dark to reach an island in the Mediterranean Sea.

"They often reach Greece without their family and very little in the way of prospects."

The charity employees refugees themselves to teach other refugees.
The charity employees refugees themselves to teach other refugees. Photo credit: Supplied / Pytheas' Path.

Jones said the charity has had hundreds of students pass through its classrooms.

He said the students, of which there are currently about 30, are taught English, and also basic computing skills.

To date, Jones, who works independently from his father, Sir Bob Jones, has solely-funded the charity with it costing about NZ$86,000 so far. He wants to fundraise more money to continue impacting their lives.

"As we have taken on new students with the new teachers, a new premises, new classroom materials, our costs have grown," Jones said.

Pytheas Path supports other grassroot NGOs that share similar goals – that of enabling refugees to reach independence, founder Chris Jones says.
Pytheas Path supports other grassroot NGOs that share similar goals – that of enabling refugees to reach independence, founder Chris Jones says. Photo credit: Supplied / Pytheas' Path.

"We are now at financial capacity, though we have the teachers and the classroom capacity to offer more teaching hours."

He says contributions would lead directly for more teaching hours, and a donation could be life-changing for the students. 

"The cost of the teachers, the exam fees and ancillary costs such as rent, power, wifi, come to roughly €250 (NZ$482) per student," Jones said.

"Receiving this education, and their exam at the end opens each student's life to a whole new range of employment opportunities, essentially changing that student's life trajectory forever, and for the better."

You can donate to the cause here.

Newshub.

 

 

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