Yoga and Sport With Refugees (YSR) was born in October 2017 on the island of Lesvos, Greece, in response to the massive need for healthy safe spaces, the sense of community and a place to work on mental and physical health. In September 2020, we expanded to Athens. Through cooperation with Habibi Works and KOIZ Centre for Postcolonial Studies, we started Habibi and Sport with Refugees in Ioannina in 2021. Every day we offer more than 20 different sports activities to approximately 400 people. Our model is unique with over 70 of our past and current coaches coming from a refugee background.
The refugee crisis began in 2015. Initially Europe opened its borders to thousands fleeing Syria, Afghanistan and countries in Africa. Then, the borders closed and thousands of people were abandoned and isolated in southern Europe.
Through sport, we bring people together and foster hope. Sports can break ethnic and religious barriers, thus creating a safe meeting space for cooperation between cultures where everyone participates and becomes a family. We work together to build people’s skills by promoting an environment conducive to continuous learning throughout our organization. Our teams are intentionally diverse – comprised of volunteers from the international, Greek, and refugee community alike – so that we can learn from each other and become truly #STRONGERTOGETHER.