Direct and holistic medical and psycho-social intervention for refugee and migrant children in Greece
The project in brief
The Smile of the Child (TSoC)
Since April 2018
The project responds to, and mitigates, the psycho-social and medical emergencies of refugee/migrant children in Greece who are suffering from violence or being at risk of violence, trafficking, smuggling and exploitation, or who are facing chronic/severe illnesses.
The project covered a significant gap related to the pediatric home care treatment of minors with severe medical issues. It also facilitated the discharge of children that still require medical material or home visits. As hospitals create further risks for their health, this is considered a big achievement. In addition, The Smile of the Child assisted the State in terms of provision of counseling and intervention (24 hours) for cases of refugee/migrant children in danger.
- To provide healthcare to refugee/migrant children (including pregnant/lactating women) with severe/chronic illnesses.
- To contribute to prevention of and response to refugee/migrant children in danger (e.g. missing unaccompanied minors and minors who are victims of violence, smuggling or trafficking).
News report on the project (in greek)
Main activities of the Good Practice
The project assisted public health services and pediatric hospitals in dealing with the increased needs of the population. For children that were staying at the hospital due to the lack of pediatric home care, we managed their transfer home and provided medical and nursing care.
Furthermore, the project trained the children’s parents on how to handle medical equipment and the child’s medical issue, as well as how to navigate the complex public health system, how to act in emergency situations and follow procedures for medications, examinations, etc. This contributed significantly to their autonomy.
The Smile of the Child assisted the state by providing 24/7 counseling and intervention in cases of refugee/migrant children in danger.
While the project did not include partner organizations, The Smile of the Child implemented the project in close and continuous cooperation with ECHO and the national authorities (e.g. Prosecutors for Minors, Ministry of Migration Policy, Municipalities, Police), UNHCR, IOM and other NGOs, the pediatric hospitals, and the organizations that have the overall oversight of the beneficiaries.
TSoC has a longstanding collaboration with national and local authorities via the signed MoUs that TSoC has with numerous national, regional or local authorities (e.g. Ministry of Health, EKAV, Ministry of Citizen’s Protection, Ministry of Interior, Prefecture of Attica, Municipality of Thessaloniki, Ministry of Shipping & Island Policy) and UNHCR.
Last but not least, the beneficiaries were directly involved in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation stages of the action.
Challenges and how they were overcome
The biggest challenge was access to credible interpreters, which we overcame by cooperating with SAWA Palestinian Organization, member of the Child Helpline International-CHI network. We linked the telephone helplines for children of both organizations, providing automatic interpretation in Arabic and offering immediate assistance and support to refugee and migrant callers.
Results of the Good Practice
The project provided:
- Support to 233 refugee/migrant infants and children with increased medical needs at home (e.g. pediatric home treatment, medical and nursing care, physiotherapy, PSS, assistance in medical consultations and diagnostic examinations, training of parents on how to handle the medical issues of their children, transfers from/to hospitals).
- Prevention and response services to violence against refugee/migrant children by responding to more than 460 calls (24/7, free of charge).
- In collaboration with the competent national authorities we provided telephone counseling and direct intervention in the field for 692 minors who were victims of violence, smuggling and trafficking, or were missing unaccompanied minors.
Antonia Tsirigoti, Project Coordinator, The Smile of the Child (TSoC)