By India Rose from Yellow Projects
27 – 29 September 2019 School of Fine Arts, Athens
The Yellow Days is a three-day cultural festival, inviting members of Athens’ refugee community to participate equally with Greek and international contributors. As newcomers, visitors and locals share music, dance, art-making, and meals, they bond beyond linguistic and social barriers. Yellow Days celebrates diversity and humanity by demonstrating a more connected and conscious future.
People require more than food, shelter and medicine; we have a fundamental need to share culture with others. For refugees dealing with traumatic experiences, uncertain futures, and hostile political narratives, The Yellow Days offers ‘aid for the soul’ – a chance to relax, celebrate, and create in the company of hundreds of diverse individuals. This is more than a welcome. The festival empowers its attendees by reminding them that they are valued – every guest is a contributor to a space designed for expression. Many events ‘for refugees’ remain separate from other grassroots activities. Instead, the Yellow Days creates an open space where all participants meet as equals and encounter broad spectrum of other initiatives in Athens.
The Yellow Days shows that there is more that unites than divides us. At our first festival – held in 2017 on the island of Leros – enduring friendships formed between local and refugee attendees, creating powerful solidarity in a climate of division. With its greater scope and attendance, the Yellow Days 2019 will consciously nurture these organic networks, which can provide lasting social support and access to opportunities for members of Athens’ refugee community.
– All guests go free to the festival
– Free transport is provided for refugee guests between the festival site and their homes
– All proceeds are donated to relevant local initiatives; our 2017 edition raised £2,000 for Leros Blood Bank and winter clothing for Pikpa Refugee Camp residents
– The festival is volunteer-run and charitably funded by two years of events and donation drives
– Guests and organisers share two free vegetarian meals from different cultures each day; all participants coming together to bond over nutritious and ethical food is central to the festival
– Multi-lingual interpreters help to facilitate workshops and talks – The festival is family-friendly, with zero tolerance of illegal substances
In 2016, Yellow Days founder Nina Alonso travelled to the island of Leros to volunteer in Pikpa refugee camp. As a resident of London’s Harringay Warehouse District, a DIY district filled with artists and activists, she saw how her home community could contribute towards the wellbeing of refugees and locals in Leros. The Yellow Days collective formed to do what they do best – throwing a unique event to bring people together. Following the first festival in 2017, twelve friends from six nationalities work between three countries to fundraise and organise towards our 2019 festival.
We believe that respect for the planet is vitally connected to respect for fellow human beings. By minimising waste and amplifying environmental awareness at every stage, the festival demonstrates the possibility of a healthier relationship to the earth. At the 2017 edition, a colourful canopy of repurposed materials inspired eco-crafting and acted as a talking point on the environment. We are already gathering plastic and cardboard ‘waste’ to upcycle into this year’s festival decoration.
Keep up with our Yellow Diary on YouTube to see how we make the 2019 festival a reality.