Nina Caprez, Jeremy Bernard visit Vasilika Moon in Greece
Rock climbers Nina Caprez, Jeremy Bernard and friends spent a week at the Corinth refugee camp in Greece with their 'Andrea Base Camp' van equipped with a climbing wall, to help the NGO Vasilika Moon. Nathalie Bini reports.
Andréa Base Camp is an incredibile expedition truck with an adjustable climbing wall. Built in 2020 by world class Swiss climber Nina Caprez and French outdoor photographer Jeremy Bernard, Andea’s mission is to explore, meet, and share experiences through sport.
Caprez and Bernard were inspired by the idea of making climbing accessible to everyone and to share its values with isolated, sometimes underprivileged populations. At the start of November 2021 they spent a week in a refugee camp in Corinthos, one of the locations were Vasilika Moon operates.
Vasilika Moon was established in 2016 to support refugees in Greece after recognising the needs of people who are exactly like us, the only difference being that there were born in a war-stricken countries. The refugees are children, women, men, people with our very same dreams, same desires: a job, a family, a home where they can feel safe, a few days of holiday in another city to visit relatives, an education, a degree…maybe even one day to send an 8a!
We are aware that we cannot stop wars, but we believe that helping these people, even if only a few hundred, even if only temporarily, is important. As such, Vasilika Moon provides medical and social assistance in the form of basic necessities, such as food, diapers, sanitary napkins, toothbrushes, glasses. It is worth noting that children and young adults in these refugee camps grow up without school, a fundamental moment for each of us and the basis not only for being independent and having a job - whatever this may be - but also just to know how count and communicate with others.
In Corinthos Vasilika Moon opened a school and community center in collaboration with two other organisations, One Bridge to Idomeni (OBTI) and Aletheia Refugee Camp Support (ARCS). Here, 14 volunteers from all of Europe work and offer English, German, science, computer lessons as well as art, photography, cooking, chess, sport courses.
In Athens, a city where thousand of people relocated from the islands such as Lesvos, Chios and Samos are abandoned in the streets and spend their days fighting for food, we are about to open a hub for medical, social and bureaucratic assistance with OBTI, ARCS and Medical Volunteer International (MVI).
Vasilika Moon was also created to give a voice to these people, to make the rest of the world know what they have suffered and what they are still facing. Testifying, telling, showing is crucial.
In ealry November we shared our project with Nina, Jeremy and their friends Patricia Oudit, Marie Julie, Ilina Irsova, Tom Buet, Valentin Grollemund and Benoit Favre that came to help and to testify our work through pictures, videos and words.
I was great to appreciate their contribution to the mission, participating in German classes, art, photography and cooking courses. During their presentation about their experiences, special moments were created with refugees who come from countries they had travelled to. And of course, there was the incredible event of the weekend: the climbing wall!
Andrea was placed in front of the Corinthos refugee camp, that currently accommodates about 1000 people, and it was amazing to see how people that have never climb before managed to spend some hours away from the cruelty of their current situation and enjoy this amazing experience.
"It’s incredible how people opened up to us, to the activities we offered. We could climb with everyone on a one-to-one relationship and this was the most beautiful thing" said Caprez.
"On the wall, we all are the same. Facing our own fears, solving the same problems. This the magic of Bernard and our project Andrea. What remains is their determination and their smiles" added Bernard.
Support, share, inform, create a community with people coming from different backgrounds are symbols of a humanity that still exists and resist. A light that illuminates in the dark, like a moon shining in the sky.
If you are interested in helping and supporting Vasilika Moon, even with only very small contributions, check out www.vasilikamoon.org.
by Nathalie Bini