Q&A with our Resource Center Manager
Since we opened The Unmentionables Resource Center in Athens in January 2018, we’ve taught countless photography and sexual and reproductive health classes, distributed thousands of free ‘unmentionable’ items, provided emergency solutions for those at risk of sexual and gender-based violence, trained refugee leaders to become Community Educators, and hosted other activities that have allowed the refugee community to learn, play, create, and connect.
We recently sat down with Brittany Long, our Resource Center Manager, to learn more about her work with The Unmentionables and the day-to-day running of the Resource Center.
Please tell us a little about yourself and how you found out about The Unmentionables.
I’m from America and have been working in the refugee/immigrant community for the past six years. I was an Education Specialist/Case Worker for a resettlement agency in Nashville, Tennessee and have worked with many continued education programs for refugee/immigrant youth. Afterwards, I left to help out at a community center in Athens for a few months and then spent six months on Lesvos working in Moria camp, where I was responsible for distribution on the island and night watches for migrant boats. After returning to Athens, I heard The Unmentionables was opening a new Resource Center in the city, so I came to the grand opening to visit and learn more.
What motivated you to become The Unmentionables Resource Center Manager?
Education has always been a motivator for what I do. I believe continued education is extremely important, but it’s lacking in many ways here in Athens, especially in the area of sexual and reproductive health. Wanting to continue to be an advocate for education is the main reason I became the Resource Center Manager. I also really enjoy being a host and this position allows me to utilize my skills to create a calm and safe environment.
What does a typical day at The Unmentionables Resource Center look like?
Currently, things have been busy at the Center! Mornings are full, with families coming in for showers and laundry. We also have three daily educational courses that take place in the morning, afternoon, and late afternoon. While mothers and fathers are learning, we offer art therapy for their children, so the space has been bustling! On different days, we offer other workshops like henna or photography classes for our UnExposed students. On Tuesdays, we open our Dignity Shop. Our students earn points for each course they've taken and can use them to "purchase" items from the shop like reusable pads, underwear, bras, and soap.
How has providing access to sexual and reproductive health education, services, protection, and empowerment programs at The Unmentionables Resource Center made an impact in the refugee community in Greece?
I believe it’s opened up a very important conversation on a topic that’s still considered taboo. We try to educate men and women on the rights they may not even know they have. Educating the community on ways they can take care of themselves and on available options or resources also benefits them health-wise.
Why is it important to integrate refugee leaders in the day-to-day running of The Unmentionables Resource Center?
Empowerment is at the core of what we do at The Unmentionables Resource Center. It’s important to empower refugee leaders as educators so they can reach their community with this information in their mother tongue. Culturally, it’s important for a community leader to transmit the information to create a safe space and open up the conversation on these sensitive topics.