Refugee Assistance: his name is Henry, he is from Syria…

In Thessaloniki, Greece in March the World YMCA officially opened its YMCA Field Office for Refugee Assistance. Secretary General, Johan Vilhelm Eltvik, reported in his blog about the ceremony and posted this image of Henry from Syria.

“John from RE.A.C.T (Refugee Assistance Community of Thessaloniki) and Henry from Syria. Henry has decorated the window in our Refugee office, and he has been very active in the REACT programme here in the YMCA, playing theatre together with actor John. Henry and I got to know one another, and then he introduced me to his sister and his parents.”

This week Anna Argyri, leader of YMCA Thessaloniki Refugee Support Programme, shared with us news about Henry:

“Henry sat for hours, watching the other kids in the swimming pool for several days. Sometimes thoughtfully, other times stuffy. Dimitris Chrysafis often sat with him explaining the process to a swimming lesson.

It is early March, we set up a small exhibition at the area of  “Atrium” with the paintings and handicraft works of the refugee children beneficiaries of RE.AC.T.  Henry comes daily in lessons and participates in setting up the exhibition. Thus, he had the opportunity to be lost… watching the pool!




“Henry! Again you see the swimming, come with us we need your help! No reply.  “Okay, Henry! Tomorrow you will enter the pool! From tomorrow onwards you will begin swimming courses! ”

“Thanks, thank you, thank you so much!”

That disarming “thank you” coming out from his soul, accompanied with his smiling eyes made us run all the next morning. We had to buy a swimsuit, cap and goggles, to inform his mother, to inform those responsible for the swimming pool. Tomorrow the first refugee children will be at the YMCA pool for swimming.
Tomorrow’s day came. Henry enters the pool for the first lesson. All they tuned correctly. I was waiting at the “Atrium” to learn about his behavior, when John Tsiakmakis came with teary eyes! “Come to see him!! His happiness is really moving!”

Henry followed the next day Abdoulahman, Bilal, Abdula, Mahir, Ahmad! Refugee children had to swim for saving their lives. Starting from the pool of YMCA of Thessaloniki… they swim to learn to live beautifully, as it is deserved to all children of the world!”


Dear Henry, enjoy your new life! The whole worldwide YMCA family wishes you all the best!



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