Imagining a future for refugees

Tamar Dressler arrived for the first time at the Greek island of Chios in the fall of 2016. Tamar planned to volunteer for two weeks at a school for the children of asylum seekers, who were then arriving at the Greek Islands in their thousands. Almost two years later, she is still there, now running an adult education center, geared to help asylum seekers develop capabilities for employment and starting a new life – in Greece or elsewhere.


Tamar is a journalist, currently writing mainly for the Israeli daily newspaper Ma’ariv. She is also a humanitarian aid expert, who for the past 15 years has been part of relief efforts in many global hotspots such as Haiti, Nepal, Chad, Uganda, Serbia and Jordan. In 2014/15 she was a Fellow in the Heschel Center’s Sustainability Fellows Program and a year later, was elected to the Heschel Center’s Board of Directors. Her writing and approach to key social problems is informed by a sustainability approach.


“Many people believe, mistakenly, that sustainability is just about the environment,” she explains. “Sustainability is not just environment. It is not just urban agriculture or recycling or zero waste or even struggles against polluting companies. It is much more than that. Sustainability must include a comprehensive view of the world, including human and social as well as environmental perspectives.”


Tamar’s approach informs the Imagine Project she founded in Chios. Its focus is a learning center, where asylum seekers can learn English and Greek, computer literacy and other skills, helping to build capabilities rather than just distributing food and tents. Since its foundation in April 2017, more than 2,000 refugees, men and women, have benefited from the center’s programs. As Tamar describes it,

“The center is a home for hundreds of people who come here each week. Here they receive all possible types of assistance: education, food, medical help, solutions for the homeless and more. We deal with the results of countless humanitarian crises: Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, Yazidis, Curds, Congolese as well as refugees from Somalia and the Central African Republic and from Yemen.”

Through its various programs, the project has also created a local community made up of refugees, Greek, Israelis and volunteers from other countries working and learning at the center.


The Imagine Project is operated by volunteers, most of them from Israel, and is supported by donations. It is currently the only aid project in Chios offering asylum seekers an alternative to spending their days, purposeless, at the various camps on the island.

They are now trying to raise the $50,000 necessary to support the center’s work for another half a year. Please consider supporting Tamar’s project and sharing it in your circles.


To donate from outside of Israel: HUMANS FOR HUMANS Bank Discount Israel (11) SWIFT: IDBLILIT187 account number: 148727664 Branch: 187  IBAN: IL140111870000148727664 ​

To donate in Israel: HUMANS FOR HUMANS BANK Discount ISRAEL (11) Branch: 187 Account number: 91751

The Heschel Center

The Heschel Center for Sustainability works to promote a sustainable Israel: a just and cohesive society, a robust and democratic economy, and a healthy and productive environment for all its residents, now and in the future.