our board

Project Layali

Asef Farjam

Asef Farjam is a sociologist, advisor and intercultural mediator with a refugee background from Afghanistan. Since January 2018 he has been a member of the European Migrant Advisory Board(EMAB). He currently works as an Advisor with Athens Municipality on inclusion of migrants and refugees, through OpenCityFellowship.  He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 2015 from Panteion University of Athens and is a MA student in Sustainable Development at the Xarokopio University of Athens. Asef Farjam’s mother tongue is Dari, but he is also fluent in English, Greek, Pashto, Farsi, Hindi and Urdu.

Marine Liakis

Marina Liakis is a French-Greek citizen. In 2016, she founded Za'atar NGO, an organization she now acts as the Director of. Prior to her work in Greece, Marina studied law and communications in Paris and New York City. During her professional career, she has worked at a variety of international organizations including the United Nations and the French Institute. She speaks Arabic, English, French, Greek, and Spanish.

David Cotton, Director

David Cotton is an American-Estonian citizen from Anchorage, Alaska. He serves as the day-to-day Director of Project Layali. After first coming to Greece in 2017 as a volunteer with Za'atar NGO, David continued to work with Za'atar on fundraising, volunteer recruitment, and strategic planning on a remote basis. He studied Politics in Los Angeles before building a diverse professional background in law, politics, business, and real estate.  He speaks English and Greek. 

Sotiria Palioura

Sotiria Palioura is an ophthalmologist with a special interest in ocular surface disease, clinical research and cornea donation. A native of Greece, Sotiria went to the United States for her undergraduate and graduate education in 1999. She graduated from Yale College and Yale School of Medicine at the top 5% of her class and she performed her PhD research under the guidance of Drs. Dieter Soll and Thomas Steitz, the 2009 Nobel laureate in chemistry. She completed her ophthalmology residency at Harvard Medical School and her cornea and external disease fellowship at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute (BPEI), the No1 Ophthalmology Department in the USA for the last 16 years. She still holds a voluntary faculty position at BPEI and enjoys having BPEI residents in Greece for their international rotations.

Anne Merewood

Anne Merewood works in public health at Boston University in the US, where she directs the Center for Health Equity, Education and Research (CHEER). She is married to Mike Makrigiorgos, who currently works at Harvard University. Mike’s father Nikos was a civil engineer in Athens, and constructed the block of flats at Pipinou 78 in the early 1960's. Anne became involved with Za'atar and Orange House in early 2018, and is a founding member of Layali KOINSEP.

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Learn More about Project Layali:


In Arabic, Layali means “my nights.” This phrase is often used in a nostalgic manner when describing old times in a positive light. As Project Layali aims to bring a piece of foreign culture to Athens, it will be a great place to remember past “Layali.” In addition, we hope that our customers and guests will in the future remember the nights they spent with us as Layali.

Every dollar we raise helps create long term sustainable solutions for refugees in Greece.

Project Layali is a registered KOINSEP under Greek law. 100% of the project's profits are recycled into creating permanent jobs and apprenticeship opportunities for migrants and refugees in Greece.