Tomas from Portugal and David and Alberto from Spain joined ESC voluntarism project in Ioannina, at our organisation Youth Center of Epirus. Their main activities were to implement recreational and non-formal educational activities for asylum seeker children and teenagers, and to work on digital content creation on asylum seeker integration related themes. Below, you can read some of their testimonies and see photos of their experience in Ioannina!
Their activity was part of the project "Asylum seeker integration in Epirus society" which is supported by the European Commission and is under the European Solidarity Corps programme.
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. In the afternoons we used to go to the facility 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 joined the activities.
We, as volunteers, teached 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. 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.
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.
May 4th marked the start of my volunteer project at the Youth Center of Epirus. I've always had the ambition and the will to be part of a volunteer project and when the opportunity to join this project came I didn't hesitate at all.
It was 2 months that I had the opportunity to share some of my knowledge with refugees, but besides that it was 2 months where I also learned a lot, gained new knowledge, developed as a person, but I managed to realize that those who have the least are the ones who share and use it the most - sharing as a way of saying thank you for all that we used to do for them. Despite all the trouble the asylum seekers I worked with have been through, they always had a smile to give and were always cheerful. It has been a very meaningful 2 months for me and I will keep all the lessons in my head and apply them into my future.
I had the pleasure of getting to know Greece, it's culture, it's beaches and mountains, it's gastronomy. I have also had the pleasure of tasting Arabic food, Italian food, Basque food and this has expanded my cultural horizons, thus improving my experience. It was 2 months that I would repeat without a doubt, where all the moments will be present in my mind and no doubt and I will always encourage the people close to me to perform and be part of the European Solidarity Corps.
Agios Athanasios facility for unacompanied asylum seekers received voluntarism servicce from Alberto (from Spain) for several months in summer and autumn of 2021.
Main activities of Alberto were to work in team with other volunteers and prepare and facilitate non formal education activities for the teenage asylum seekers at the facility. Especially, due to his scientific background, he facilitated activities related to chemistry, biology and mechanics, for example, creating a robotic arm with the teenagers. As well, he contributed to the gardening activities and supported other activities facilitated by other volunteers.
This project was co-funded by the European Commission.