Jehan and Aude from France, Maria from Cyprus and Aida 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 spent two magics months in Ioannina, where I learned a lot of things.
I was there in order to plan and implement recreational, educational and monitoring activities for refugee/asylum seeker children in Agia Eleni. The second week, I started teaching Spanish to young adults of Ioannina and I also supported the Arabic class for children in Agia Eleni.
Fortunately, I learned more than what I thought; I learned Arabic and Greek, I improved my guitar playing skills, I started doing theatre, I tasted Ukrainian food and Arabic deserts and I discovered villages and mountains while hiking with my friends. Although I knew about the situation of the refugees and the different projects that are taking place, the most important thing I learned from was life. I learned that people who have less give you more, everything they have they always share with you to thank you for your help.
I discovered that these people smile all the time, in this poor situation you can always find a smile on their faces. We can’t forget it when we get stressed by something that in comparison is quite more insignificant than having a house, food or freedom. I learned to be happy with myself and value all the things and people that I have.
During this time, I made very good friends and nowadays, after I left, I keep in contact with them by video calls. I hope to come back to see them again face to face.
PS: Everyday I tried to draw and write about the experience and now I would like to share some of my creation to show my experience to others, you can see them below!
I’m Aude, I’m 25 years old and this year I decided to do ESC! I did a 2 months service and I wanted to come in Ioannina to do my ESC because I knew this city already and I love it! It’s always alive, full of bars, coffee places, good restaurants and you’re never alone in Ioannina! Even though it’s not a very big city, there are a lot of foreigners living there. It is very well located: one hour from the sea and 30 minutes from the beautiful mountainous area of Zagori.
So here I came to volunteer in the accommodation facility of Agia Eleni (10 minutes by car from the center of Ioannina), managed by an Italian NGO, Intersos. The main mission was to organize educational, cultural or sports activities for the children (such as drawing, painting, origami, creations based on recycled objects, dancing, board games, outdoor games, ect.) also in order to develop their creativity, their tolerance for others and also for them to have a better time in Greece!
The first day was quite a shock, because a lot of children came, we didn’t know each other and I thought I would never be able to remember their names, their nationalities or even their faces. But day after day, I got to know them better, and they got to know me and communication became much easier! Some quickly became confident and very friendly while others needed more time to trust me, but in the end, they all seemed happy to come every day.
ESC was also about meeting volunteers from other countries of Europe (Italy, Spain, Ukraine etc.) and sharing a great time with them (mostly drinking coffee during the day and tsipouro during the night!).
This project was co-funded by the European Commission.