Beatriz and Mariana from Portugal and Santiago from Martinique of France joined ESC voluntarism project in Ioannina, at our organisation Youth Center of Epirus. Each of them completed 2 months of service; their main activities were to implement recreational activities for asylum seeker children and work on digital content creation on social issues. Below, you can read some of their testimonies and see photos, video of their experience in Ioannina!
Their activity was part of the project "Volunteering at Youth Center of Epirus" which is supported by the European Commission and is under the European Solidarity Corps programme.
"I am a French volunteer, from Europe Solidarity Corps. I come from Martinique, an island in the Caribbean, and I am here, in Greece, for two months. I had a peaceful childhood, my family takes care of me, but I always thought my life wasn't the best. I accepted this volunteer mission because I want to gather work experiences, but mostly because I like to give love to others, I like to know that my loved ones feel good, maybe because I know, or at least I thought I knew, how it’s feel to suffering. I was aware of the history of the majority of the teenagers, whom are under aged asylums seekers, I was going to care for. I assumed that some of them knew the war, or wanted to run away of their countries, for diverse reasons. However, I didn't really realize what it really implies.
My first meeting with the teenagers, at the facility, was warm, and I remember 2 faces who particularly touched me. When I saw the place -a pretty big house which is their home and their classroom- I thought about some activities I could do with them, activities based on non-formal education. I sympathized, at least from my point of view, with those I met quite quickly. Some of them knew some sentences in French, in Greek, and even in Spanish, so it was kind of funny to talk with the boys. I also told them that I will teach some karate class, sport I used to do at a high level; we did some small fights in the rules of the art, and I was glad to see some of them happy to do it. I also saw a big feeling of fraternity between each other, and it was really pleasant to see".
′′The two months in Ioannina were enriching and intense. The central part of the project was the creation of non-formal education activities for asylum seekers, something I've always wanted to do, because it's a subject that makes me particularly aware.
I really enjoyed contacting teens from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. Together with the other volunteers from France, Denmark, Spain, Greece and Portugal I created yoga, geography, drawing, painting and cooking activities for them, while also finding out that I am good at leading activities and improved my self confidence.
Although it was a short lived project, I learned a lot about how to deal with teens and people from cultures completely different from mine. I was also able to develop my online content creation skills: I created a project called ′′ The Poem of the Week ′′ in which I shared on Facebook at the Youth Center of Epirus videos about poems related to the Migration / Refugees theme (one of my videos you can see below).
I loved living with people from other countries, at home there was a feeling of community I had never experienced before. We used to work, cook and hang out almost always, like family. We explored the city of Ioannina, a quiet place in northern Greece, which surprised me positively: the local community is very proud of their traditions and it's very easy to find local products. Loved the fact that I'm surrounded by nature (mountains, forest, and lake) especially at a time like this.
Definitely going to want to do a long lasting project in the near future and advise all young people to look for a project that inspires them!"
"Since the end of last year, Mariana has been collaborating on planning non-formal education activities with young people and adolescents - minors unaccompanied asylum seekers - at the Agios Athanasios host centre.
It's been an exciting journey, marked by passion for the arts and personal expression, in one of the activities lead by Mariana the youth were guided using music, intuition and thought without judgement, always in a climate of immersion and joy. From this approach, and from the challenge to create your own stamps and to make clippings of nature and human figures, combining them at their will, resulted in beautiful and unexpected compositions". (ASSOCIACAO DE PARALISIA CEREBRAL DECOIMBRA IPSS)
This project was co-funded by the European Commission.