David is from Spain and joined ESC voluntarism project in Ioannina, at our organisation Youth Center of Epirus. The main activities of the service were to implement recreational and non-formal educational activities for asylum seeker children and teenagers, and to work on digital content creation on social issues and cultural themes. Below, you can read his experience and see photos, of his stay in Ioannina!
My volunteer experience in Greece has been very satisfactory. I volunteered with refugee or asylum-seeking adolescents providing non-formal education activities.
Every week the volunteers had a meeting with the coordinator to talk and plan the activities for the following week. It was very challenging because some months there was no money for the necessary material for the activities we wanted to do, but that made us be more creative and among all the volunteers we could always find a solution to do the activities we wanted to do.
In the afternoons we used to go to the "hotel" to do the activities with the teenagers. At first it was a bit difficult to get involved, but when we met, a lot of them join the activities.
We, as volunteers, teach them many things; how to do macrame, arts and crafts, slackline, gardening, scientific experiments, we also did a night of stars, we did sports ... but we also learned many things from them, they taught us new ways of doing the activities that we prepared for them, but most importantly that taught us humility and other values, such as being happy without having anything. Some of them opened up and told us their stories and those who did it with me somehow changed me. I have always been aware of the difficulties they have in some countries and people have to find refuge in other countries, but when you know a real and personal story of someone you know and appreciate, many things move within me and they have made me realize that there is a lot of work to be done and it is the responsibility of all the people who live in this world and we hope that together we will solve this problem by each one doing their bit.
When you work with people it is inevitable to have a connection with them, but the connection I made with teenagers is very special. Most of them are alone, in new countries and they need to fight to get a better life. The other volunteers and I listened to them, we gave them advice when they asked for it, we tried to change little things that they wanted to change and we helped them in everything we could. They were very satisfied and it is with what I remain from my experience, to see that despite the difficulties, in some moments they become happy, they laugh and play like any other adolescent who lives in the first world and they forget for a while. moment they are refugees in another country.
In the house I lived with other volunteers from different countries, some of them became part of my family. We cooked together, laughed together, cried together, and spent quality time doing thousands of things together. We also "adopt" street cats in our garden and feed them daily.
The Greek language has been a great challenge for my first few weeks as I had no prior knowledge, but I started to learn and eventually came to know how to strike up a conversation in my everyday life when I was shopping or ordering something in a cafe or restaurants .
About Greece I was able to go to many different places and I was fascinated by the beaches, the seas, the islands, the forests, nature, all the animals that I saw in nature, the towns and cities like Athens or ancient Olympia, which make you travel in the time.
The Greek culture amazed me, the stories I heard, the myths I read, the people I met, the places I visited and all my experience make me want to return to this very special country, Greece, which will always be part of me.
This project was co-funded by the European Commission.