A tree planting event promoting the protection of the environment as well as the social integration of unaccompanied child asylum seekers took place yesterday at the Athienou primary school.
Pupils welcomed 16 child asylum seekers to the school premises and planted trees together in the school’s new yard in the presence of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment Minister Costas Kadis, UNHCR representative in Cyprus Katja Saha, Athienou mayor Kyriacos Kareklas, and Cypriot musician Alexia Vassiliou who conceived of the event within the framework of her Re-be music programme.
Speaking at the event, Kadis said that the event, in addition to its environmental aspects, “offered the children asylum seekers the opportunity to share an experience with friends by participating in an educational activity that they would have done back home under normal circumstances. At the same time, school pupils got to experience diversity and collaboration towards a greener planet. Events such as this shape the underpinnings for a better future.”
Saha said that programmes like Re-be help combat feelings of disappointment, insecurity, and loneliness experienced by most refugee children, diminish tensions, reinforce refugee resilience and contribute to peace.
“Such acts of solidarity inspire us and prove that people can coexist and prosper together. Let’s work together to give refugees a voice, defeat xenophobia, intolerance, and fear,” she concluded.
Both Kadis and Saha congratulated Alexia for her initiative. The latter has been working together with the UNHCR over the past few years for the planning of programmes and experiential workshops aimed at child asylum seekers in Cyprus.
The trees planted at the event were provided by the Forestry Department as part of their “Planting for Climate” campaign. Department representatives attended the event and supported the children with planting the trees.
The event was also attended by the head of the European Funds Unit at the Ministry of Interior, Constantinos Kyprianou.
Re-bE the Music Listening Method-Music Movement is an Educational and Cultural Outreach Music Programme for schools and the community. Created by Alexia Vassiliou, Re-bE builds a sustainable Music Culture at grassroots level, by making Music accessible to all; introducing the Life-giving benefits of Music and creating awareness for the Environment and for Creative Expression. Re-bE is the experience of Re-Connecting children, young adults, adults, and older adults with Who They Are, through Creativity, Expression, Improvisation, the Environment, and the voluntary act of Music Listening, and by doing so, fundamentally aiding in the creation, the growth, evolution, and cultivation of the new generation of Music Appreciators, Cultured, Well-rounded, Happy, Balanced, Eco-conscious individuals – Protecting and Respecting the Environment, and contributing members of the Global Music, Environmental and Cultural Community.