“Bag Mohajer” is a social project in which young refugees sew bags out of unusable old clothes as well as those rubber dinghies and life jackets, that brought them in a perilous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe.
In those dinghies many people, including many minor refugees, dare the crossing from Turkey to Greece. However, the ones who manage to reach Greece despite coastguards and Frontex do neither find protection nor safety: systematic human rights violations and the lack of a functioning asylum system is here a European reality.
Us refugees who were in the same situations ourselves years ago – want to build a network of solidarity in cooperation with activists.
With Bag Mohajer, we aim to work collectively to create perspectives. We want to create a safe space for those in need of protection, in which we try to make the flight and the thereby caused separations and losses bearable.
The project brings together people with different dreams but similar fates.
We do not want to give up our dreams and therefore we want to spread a piece of our history through “Bag Mohajer”. We are not allowed to travel but no borders can prevent us from telling our stories.
B .: “Boat bags are made out of the rubber-boats we came with … It is like an extension of our memory … the boats did brought` us here, we are carrying on now ..”
This project started in early 2010 in the 2008 opened “Villa Azadi – House of Freedom”, one of the few accomodations for unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece. Due to the precarious economic situation of the country, the villa was, however, closed in 2014 and the people living there were left homeless. The Villa Azadi was located in the mountains of the Greek island of Lesbos.
Meanwhile, all former Mohajer tailors arrived in northern Europe and and were able to take their first steps into a life in security and dignity. In Greece, the situation for refugees has worsened with the economic crisis. The rapid increase in unemployment in the country hit the undocumented as well as the supporting structures hard. There are hardly any jobs let alone training opportunities for refugees and undocumented migrants.
That’s why we are continueing the project “Bag Mohajer” in Athens.
* mohajer is the persian/arabic word for refugee, traveler
The distance between Turkey and Lesvos / Greece is in some places only 5 km:
These are the inflatables which are most of the time overcrowded:
Abandoned inflatable boats and lifejackets:
This is also what people lost under all the prasure and stress:
We process the boats and cut and wash them right on the beach. The lifejackets we also use. From the outer fabric we are sewing inside pockets for the boat bags. The inside of the lifejackets is a kind of plastic foam. We use it for the back cushion of our backpacks, as well as for the strap to make the bags more comfortable. Also, the band and the clips we process:
What we do not use from the boats, we take it from the beach and throw it away. The island has not really found a solution for disposal the large amount of rubber boats and life jackets:
In our workshop in Athens everything is sorted and cleaned from salt water. Also, the lifejackets we are taking apart in order to
use it easier:
When the bags are ready we are spraying our logo and slogans on it: