Ines and Sadna from France, Monika from Poland and Valerio from Spain 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 teenagers, to lead weekly cultural and language activities for young local adults and to assist other activities of our organisation. Below, you can read some of their testimonies and see photos of their experience in Ioannina!
Their activity was part of the project "Positive impact on community of Ioannina" which is supported by the European Commission and is under the European Solidarity Corps programme.
I was supposed to spend these two months somewhere else but within one day everything changed and I ended up in Joannina. And I couldn’t end up better.
The story of this ESC starts when I had to back out of my planned internship in the Czech Republic because I was unable to find any affordable accommodation. I also had another internship planned for November and a nightmarish job at that time. I had two options: I could either stay in that job for another two months or find something instead. Guess what came to my mind.
When I recalled that I could do a short-term voluntary service, I immediately checked where I could go. I didn’t think much, I just didn’t want to waste next two months in a pointless job. I searched the ESC web page and wrote a post on one of the Facebook groups being pretty sure I wouldn’t find anything at the last minute. I had only that two months when I could go somewhere and couldn’t change the dates much but surprisingly I found many offers. I selected three projects. Greece won based on very good vibes during the interview with Dora and the fact that I had already been to Greece a year before and had very good memories from that time.
I am this kind of person who jumps into new things recklessly, without much consideration and then freaks out that I all will go wrong. It wasn’t different this time and I got afraid that I might end up in a place that I wouldn’t like in the end. So I went to the airport in early September all stressed out. Unnecessarily.
I seriously couldn’t find a better place.
We worked in a refugee camp with kids from 5 to 12 years old and later also with kids from 1 to 4. We provided them with informal education by crafts, playing outdoor games or teaching simple rules. For me this experience was particularly challenging because I’d never felt comfortable with kids but thought I could make it for two months. Now I miss those kiddies! I wonder how long I will hear “teacher!” in my head :D
But my two months in Ioannina was not only the camp. I made friends, I ate out a lot, I visited another part of Greece, I learned a lot about myself, I made important decisions, I struggled and won a couple of times, I made memories. Time passed so fast but two months were enough to keep Ioannina in my heart forever. But the most important part of this adventure were people I met on my way: my flatmates, other volunteers of the project and of Agia Eleni, the team, volunteers and friends of the Youth Center with special place for Dora, the best coordinator! You guys made this time so special and unforgettable.
I made this choice based on the chain of haphazard events and couldn’t be more happy about the result. Thank you Ioannina! Hope to see you soon.
My name is Sadna, I volunteered for the Youth Center of Epirus in Ioannina, Greece for 2 Months from Mid- September to Mid-November.
When I arrived in Ioannina my first week was a bit strange. There were already 3 other volunteers in a flat, they had arrived before me and it wasn't very organized. After my first week, they took a new flat and I could move in the new flat but alone. There were two flats as we were supposed to be at least 6 or 7 volunteers.
After this first week, I met my two wonderful flatmates, and we fell in love at the first sight. Indeed, Juliette and Arthur were the best flatmates I could ever dreamed of. This was just an introduction to talk about my first week in Greece ! I started with a bit negative point, but it was the only and the one negative point as the rest was AMAZING !!
So let’s focus on the EVS now. Our mission was to plan activities for the children living in the accommodation facility for asylum seekers and refugees. It was a big place, the family had their own rooms in each «houses». Those asylum seekers were from many countries (Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan … and even Morocco). During the first month, we were going every morning from 9 to 13 am, we were planning activities for the children aged from 5 to 12 years old. I loved spending my time with them, they really were full of joy and they were eager to learn, to play cards, to play basketball, to paint, and to participate to the «Do It Yourself» activities, so that at the end of the activity they can return «home» with crafts they made in order to show it to their parents.
After 4 weeks in Ioannina, we started to go to Agia Eleni in the afternoon, from 2 to 5, as we were also taking care of the smaller ones, aged from 1 to 4. I will never forget some of those kids, and they will stay in my heart forever !! They are so lovely !
I was also giving Spanish classes for the Youth Center, once a week for 1 hour and a half. I was also spending my time helping in a dog shelter in my free time. Indeed, in Greece, unfortunately they have many street dogs and cats. So, every morning I used to go and give food, play, cuddle and take care of those adorable dogs with Susanne, a Dutch woman, who originally started this association alone.
For more information and if you want to help you can contact her threw this facebook page, I guess : https://www.facebook.com/AnimaIoannina/
During those two months my routine was amazing ! Indeed, I was going to Agia Eleni every day, then we were going out with all the volunteers, sharing moments together. During the weekends we were planning trips.. This is how we met new people, and new friends. I had the opportunity to visit Corfu with a friend, and with my flatmates and other volunteers we visited Parga, Meteora, Vikos, Papingo Rocks, Lefkada, Stravoskiadi, Patra, Kalarites. I will always keep those precious and wonderful moments in my heart.
We were enjoying Greek Culture and Food : We loved and enjoyed Vegetarian Pitas and their cakes inspired from the Turkish culture.
We tried many nice dishes and on top of that our favorite food were LOUKOUMADES and ICE CREAMS. I can affirm that those two places were like our meeting spot every afternoon after work...
This project was co-funded by the European Commission.