2021 was an incredible year of growth for PILA and a powerful reminder of how far our organization has come. Since opening our first Nest to young refugee children in Lesvos, Greece, three years ago, we’ve opened nine more beautiful learning spaces for and with communities experiencing displacement and poverty. Now serving more than 4,000 children and families worldwide, the Nests provide safe learning and play opportunities in Mexico, Greece, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zimbabwe — sites we read about in the news as places of tremendous hardship and deprivation, but which are also filled with children eager to explore, connect and create.
It is with great joy that I share some of our highlights from the past year:
Five New Nests
In the last 12 months we've opened new Nests on three continents. In Tijuana, Mexico we launched Nest Centrito 32, a mobile classroom serving infants, toddlers, and their parents in shelters across the border. Nearby, we also established Nest Norte, a space where children can relax and play while their parents seek counsel at Al Otro Lado, a legal services NGO. Across the Atlantic, in Greece, we opened Nest Athens, a learning space for young refugee children who have fled conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. Finally, in July, we traveled to Southeast Africa to open Nest Zimbabwe, a preschool located in Zimbabwe's capital city, Harare. And this fall, we created a fourth preschool classroom at Nest Congo.
Expanded Support for Parents
To date we've provided parenting classes, resources and support to more than 625 asylum-seeking parents and caretakers at the U.S.-Mexico border and in Athens, Greece.
Broadening the Network
This year we were honored to work with new partners including UNICEF, LA-based artist Mark Bradford with Hauser & Wirth, March Studio, Congresswoman Katie Porter, Centro 32, Al Otro Lado, Fairy Dust Teaching, I AM Zimbabwe Trust and Carry the Future. These collaborations enabled us to expand our educational programming while helping us meet children’s basic needs.
Planning for the Future in 2022
We are excited to grow and innovate in the coming months. Our plans include: afternoon art classes for school-age children at Nest Athens, a new learning space at Canyon Nest, increased pedagogical support for Nest teachers in DR Congo and Zimbabwe and exciting plans for our mobile Nest programming. Join us in supporting these initiatives and so much more in the year ahead.
Above all, in 2022 we are excited to work with you. There are so many ways to get involved, including volunteering, joining us on social media, investing financially and more. If you have other ideas, we'd love to hear them!
These are challenging times, and I know sometimes the obstacles we face can seem larger than life. But thanks to you, we are able to continue providing playful learning opportunities and care to children who need it most.
On behalf of the PILAglobal community, I would like to express my deepest gratitude for your compassionate support, today and every day.
Happy New Year!
Lindsay Weissert, PILAglobal CEO