This is an automatic compilation of volunteers' comments about their experiences in Greece.
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I've been to Nea Kavala for 14 days between january 21st and february 3rd. Everything went perfect, the information they gave me before arrival, the work we've made there, everything went great! I'd like to volunteer with them again for sure!!
Lisa, the camp director and her team are outstanding! Expect to work hard, to enjoy helping people and to get lots of hugs from the kids!
The camp is very well set up considering the circumstances. There is a school, a medical unit and a warehouse which contains clothing, food and hygiene supplies.
The people are really lovely and fellow volunteers are so helpful and accommodating - expect and open to work as a team and you'll fit right in.
I couldn't recommend it more highly and I hope to be able to return to 'Do My Part' in 2017.
Thank you Lisa and team for this amazing opportunity.
Very well organized. Volunteers do essential work like providing basic items (clothing, hygienic products). Would have liked for volunteers to provide more information to refugees to explain how eu bureaucracy works.
We signed up as a couple and found a flat on Air B&B within walking distance (25 min). We stayed in the Keramikos neighborhood and felt like locals very quickly. Other volunteers found cheaper rooms for individuals.
The leadership at Project Elea is very friendly and accomodating. There are no fees for the volunteer and they take short term volunteers. They have only been around for a few months and are making a significant impact on the 2000+ residents in the camps. Every day we had 20-30 volunteers from all around the world.
We distributed food, clothes, baby formula, built a puppet theater, talked with the residents and played with the kids. It was a wonderful experience and we made many friends. We highly recommend this organization.
I decided to stay in and around Athens, have been working with Disaster Tech Lab. I interacted with Lesvos Info Point only via the internet, have no complaints or criticisms, all of my interactions have been positive.
Fantastic time on the island. Mainly helped out with The Lighthouse Relief team, at camp Kara-Tepe and Pikpa. My advice is to contact the organisations in advice and really plan what you will do but don't be afraid for plans to change and to improvise day to day. If it's a long stay, stick with one organisation. If like me you were a helping hand see what you can do and who needs the most help urgently. Make the most of it and communicate with each other! facebook is great, whatsapp is great. Get a cheap smartphone and a greek sim, sorted. Definitely plan on coming back hopefully in June or July. Keep up th good work everyone.
Dear friends, I was in Lesvos for 1 week driving for Marhacar as the sole driver that week (they normally have 3 shifts with 2 drivers per shift).. It was rewarding, and I got to see many sides of the island. It was also sad in the sense that Better Days for MOria and many other organizations were dismantling their operations on the island. I cut my Lesvos time short and moved to Idomeni on the mainland by the Macedonian border. This second part of my volunteering was more what I had initailly signed up for, plenty of work directly with refugees, I worked in a baby hammam bathing 80 babies a day wiht Bomberos in Accion and also with Nurture Project at Eko gas station. And I helped out the Lighthouse with crowd managemetn by food distribution and played with adorable children.
I admire the many selfless great volunteers I met and eoncourage anyone hesitating to go and help where needed. Thank you for the Lesvos google document contianing tons of valuable information.
I've just returned home after almost 2 months at Better Days for Moria. It was the most profound and positive (yes, even in the crisis there are rays of sunshine both in the volunteers you work with and refugees you meet) experience of my life. While it was mentally and at times physically tough it was also very rewarding and I've made life long friends from it. I couldn't recommend volunteering with BDFM more - in whatever project is next. They are a wonderful organisation that is both transparent, inclusive and effective.
Lesvos in general is a beautiful island and I've made myself the promise of going back as a tourist. Staying in Mytilene is easiest for work there and in Moria and there is no need for a car (taxi is â‚¬10 which you can split with other volunteers but also hitch hiking is very easy too). Accommodation prices are going up at the moment but I found that asking locally and networking is the best way to find something both appropriate (wifi/washing machine etc) and affordable.
This has been the best experience of my life, I look forward to returning and I am so grateful to everyone who I met during my time there. Thank you volunteers and Lesvos.
I decided at short notice to come to Lesvos as an independent volunteer never having volunteered before. The information I gained from you I found invaluable. It enabled me to join in with things at short notice and let me contact others easily. The links to facebook were also helpful. One negative thing for me, was that although you tried to join me to Whatsapp car share, it never worked out. So I found getting around a little difficult. I hitch-hiked, asked for lifts from likely looking volunteers and in desperation I hired a car (for 2 days) which in the end was brilliant as it let me help others and also meet yet more wonderful people! I was affected by the air strike which also was a good thing in the end as I had to catch the ferry to Piraeus and spend 2 days there. I was able to work with the refugees in E1. Mainly drawing with the children and interacting with some of the Mums.....which is exactly what I wanted to do when I set out from UK! A wonderful experience of humanity. Thank you for your part in it. Sally Taylor.
for 3 weeks i stayed with my wife in Mytilini and we worked in olive grove, chantal in the tea tent and i in the medical tent. It was an amazing experience, a bit hard because we are old people (the night shift is difficult) but we always met nice persons among volunteers and refugees; the youth provided a perfect job and a usual self-denial. The medical team of health point foundation operated without problem, sharing the job with a very practical mind, and the only goal to help people by the best means. My wife who gave tons of tea received, in return, thousands of smiles and that, she will never forget. I realise too i did a good choice when renting soon a car (very convenient for 2 people working with different schedules and local buses not really reliable); for the last thing we are together sorry about our english; no so fluent for understanding all one said sometimes. But if would be necessary to game over this journey, we would ready to sign up again! be pround of your action, if everyone were like you, our earth would turn better.
in last, i would mention that we met in lesvos too less french people : why are they keeping their eyes closed ? luckily, there are many other countries more efficient.
I writted a novel in french which reports my experience in a story as medical Volunteer in Moria , called si Lesbos m'était contée and published in Amazon an Kindle e-book with my name Yvan Hany
I am deeply impressed by the infrastructure that volunteers have built on the island of Lesvos. It has been a very inspiring week, during which I have met fantastic people and experienced beautiful connections. I have come back full with hope and motivation to continue fighting where I live. Despite horrible political decisions, despite racist people, we will not surrender. We cannot surrender.
As for practical questions, I think it is better to get in touch with the volunteers that are already working there to better adapt to their needs (a couple of days in advance was enough in our case). Renting a car was very useful and we collaborated with Marhacar. I really admire how well they coordinate all deliveries across the island.
I am leaving lots of things out but anyway, I think the most important thing is just wanting to help... and being a bit flexible :).
I was in Molyvos from 1-14 March. Prior to arrival I had decided to be an "independant" & also not to hire a car & drive on the "wrong" side of the road (I'm from Aotearoa New Zealand) I was house sitting in the village. I wanted to work with Dirty Girls.
The ride-sharing page didn't produce one lift..luckily a woman got in touch after I'd posted on the main page on Information Point...she was also wanting to work with Dirty Girls so we went over to Skala Sikimenios a couple of times & helped out a little before she returned to the USA. After that I couldn't find a lift. I hitchhiked one day & got picked up by some volunteers so that was great.
I realise that my decision to not drive on Lesvos & the constraints of housesitting limited my usefulness. Just want to suggest that in the info it is made clear that to prospective volunteers that you can't really manage without a vehicle if you are not joined up with an organisation. It would be good if volunteers with cars were encouraged to check for others needing lifts.
Thanks for all you do.
3/14/2016 Gabriela Garver, 22, USA, 6 days with Better Days for Moria. Cooked, handed out tea, worked night shift (1-9:30am). Positive experience! I felt very useful. I know my work was only a drop in the ocean, but I still felt I contributed. I would return and encourage others to do so, as well. If anything, next time I would try to camp close to the work site, rather than stay in a hotel.
After I left, I felt the time was much too short! Also burdened by what I experienced, and how little we understand it in the US. I was able to process well with my teammates, since I came on a team of 4. We used the debrief guide we found online through Euro Relief's website.
Recommendations to the teams/organizations on the Island: Better Days has an amazing volunteer system going! We were amazed how well everything keeps running, despite turnover of key leadership as volunteers come and go.
Future volunteers: Make sure you take care of yourself! Most of our team got sick, undoubtedly with things the refugees perpetually deal with. Make sure to rest enough, bring meds and vitamins and practice strict hygiene. Also, consider working night shift! They're always in need of night shift volunteers, and I found it to be a great job. You don't have as much interaction with refugees, but it's a chance to serve the whole camp and other volunteers. Once we got into the sleep schedule, it really wasn't too bad.
anonymous; working for
3/11/2016: Moriah, 29, USA (but living in Bulgaria), 3 days with Marhacar in Mytilini, Moving supplies from warehouses to camps. WONDERFUL experience. If I came back, I would offer my ESL/EFL teaching skills on the facebook group to see who might want to use them. Felt good after I left, Lesvos really has their shit together.
Recommendations: None. Everyone I met was upbeat, helpful and knowledgeable. You guys were all so amazing. Wow.
Future volunteers: Lesvos is really well-run! You might want to think of volunteering in less fortunate areas in Greece, Turkey or Macedonia.
Open to be a mentor: firstname.lastname@example.org
3/10/2016 Diane Jarvis, 1 month with Better Days for Moria. Sorted & distributed clothes, cooked, picked up trash, met buses.
Recommendations: Ideally one would be quite specific about useful items to donate. The men's clothing donations were in larger sizes than most of the refugee men. For women clothing, dark colored and modest clothing was the desired. There were canned food items donated, particularly canned potatoes, that wouldn't be used.
Future volunteers: Took all warm clothing then the weather turned nice and I had nothing. The markers and gloves I took were really useful. Buying some supplies there makes a lot of sense. Open to be a mentor: Independent20200@gmail.com
3/10/2016 Lyn Kirby, 58, England. 6 weeks with Better Days For Moria, Evening shift clothes distribution leader. Very positive experience.
Sad to leave the island, happy to see family and friends at home. Mixed emotions. I did not feel the need for psychological help, but I have had much experience working in traumatic situations. I think problems could arise for less experienced volunteers.
Recommendations: There is always room for improving ongoing situations, I think it is an ever evolving situation.
Future volunteers: Keep smiling and take a break whenever needed. Be willing to ask for help. It is hard to prepare for the emotional roller-coaster, but there are always many people around who understand this and can offer help and support.
Open to be a mentor: email@example.com
3/7/2016 Luisa, 24, Spain. 18 days with Better Days for Moria, distribution, camp cleaning, information point. Very, very positive experience!
Felt sad and extremely inspired after I left.
Future volunteers: Don't be afraid of trying a bit of everything (functions, shifts...) until you find your combination, and then stick to it and make the most of it. :-)
Open to be a mentor: firstname.lastname@example.org
3/7/2016 Trudie Sly, 49, UK. 1 week with Better Days For Moria, Dirty Girlz, doing distribution. Amazing to see what volunteers have achieved on Lesvos.
Felt strange after I left. Bit rubbish for not doing enough, but I was expecting that. Overall very happy to have been there if only for a week. I did a lot of reading before I came so lots of things were immediately familiar and I've visited Greek Islands a lot in the past so I wasn't at all out of my comfort zone on that score.
Recommendations: I wouldn't presume to suggest improvements to the awesome work already done and going on after only a week on the island.
Future volunteers: Just do it. Volunteers when you arrive couldn't be more helpful and friendly. Read up lots before you go, not necessarily for info as that can change quickly but for familiarization which will then help you cope in general.
3/6/2016 Laura, 38, usa. 2 weeks with Pikpa. Trash, cleaning, clothes, kids. Awesome experience!
I got sick after I left. Was overwealmed by the need. I worked with an energy worker upon return.
Recommendations: The place amazed me. Such a great example of how we can work together with tech to get so much done.
Future volunteers: Take care of yourself!
Open to be a mentor: Laura@angelforth.com
3/6/2016 (anonymous). 2 weeks with Better Days For Moria. Drainage, litter picking, water distribution, cooking, beach clearing - day shifts. Very positive experience. Try other shifts and roles. Left tired but somewhat fulfilled
Recommendations: More reliable information distribution on key topics - eg ferry timetables and ticket availability.
Future volunteers: Be prepared to contribute in any way that you can and that is required at the time.
Karin Hug 38, Switzerland. 12 days on Lesvos. Worked on the beach and Moria. Thanks, and for future volunteers: Please go..is very useful.
Date: 2/21/2016 23:48:13
Basil, 55, USA. 1 week on Lesvos, with Attika Warehouse. Organized warehouse items for easy retrieval, distributed clothing at port during departure times. Extraordinary experience. The warehouse is a critical part of making life a little more comfortable for the refugees and distribution at the port let me see the process full circle. Proud to be working with such dedicated people, wishing i could do more/spend more time, impressed that the processing is going smoothly and that refugees say they were treated with dignity and respect.
Recommendations: Too many volunteers gathered at Moria with little to do; they could be encouraged to work at less popular areas, such as the warehouses. Organization of donation collections could be better so that the clothing that is needed is the clothing that is donated. Resource point needed for where refugees with no money for travel can go for help so they make ferry fare as well as bus fares to their destination.
To future volunteers: Helping refugees through indirect means like working in the warehouse, or helping the islanders by cleaning up the beaches are two terrific way of making a difference and are very rewarding. Look where there is a need but not a lot of help and pitch in there.
2/11/2016. Sian Wood, 29, UK. 2 weeks with Better days for Moria and Off Track Health. Did clothing distribution and medical aid, early and late shifts. Positive experience, met some incredible people. The quick change over of volunteers makes it very difficult to run efficient teams, differing views and opinions of how things should work can cause tension between long and short term volunteers. It would be very useful to have a short team meeting at the beginning of each shift so you know who you are working alongside and what the priorities for that shift are.
The situation changes so rapidly that it was hard to know if we were doing something helpful/ worthwhile all the time. It's very useful to be able to talk through your day/ feelings/ frustrations with other volunteers.
Future volunteers: If you haven't already been involved in the aid effort you can't possibly understand the situation. Before I went out I read every possible bit of information that I could, then I arrived and learned 100 times more than I could ever have found out from home.
2/11/2016. Molly, one month in December. Mainly with Dirty Girls, visited lots of places & groups to collect clothes, based at Skala Sykamineas and Lighthouse camp. Also sometimes helping distribute clothes, greet boats, help people from boats to camps/buses.
Very positive experience. I'd also have liked to help in the Olive Grove at Moria, at the No Borders kitchen in Mytilini, do more with the Lighthouse camp, now I'd love to also help at the Hope Centre & wish I'd had time for more beach cleaning! Could easily come back for 6 months if I could just put my life on hold (considering it!)
Still very connected from home. Torn between my life and Lesvos life. Reading all the time about what's happening on Lesvos and wider situation. Wanting to tell people to go to Lesvos on holiday & help the local economy! I had strong emotional times but mostly my work was not traumatic.
Recommendations: Lighthouse camp impressed me enormously. The perfect blend of good organisation with genuine friendliness and gentle care. I hope initiatives such as this aren't bulldozed by big organisations/government.
Future volunteers: Don't be frightened that you won't be up to the job (whatever the job is!) - if you want to come then your common sense and compassion will rise to the fore when needed. But do let better experienced or trained people jump in first if they are ready to do so - you can learn by watching them. Don't think you need to have everything organised in advance. Be prepared that things on the ground are very fluid - be flexible. Cleaning (beaches, loos, paths, kitchens, clothes etc) is a big part of most jobs - don't shy away from this or think it's not 'frontline' work! Please do understand that many things are done the way they are for very good reasons - don't try to remake systems until you've been somewhere a few weeks and understand the background/bigger picture! Bring a plastic or tin mug and carry it with you, so you don't use up disposables every time you want a hot drink at the camps.
2/11/2016. Tamas Szuts. First with Migration Aid International Sirius.Help. Now independent volunteer. We worked in the port, in the south. Positive experience.
Recommendations: Car sharing would be nice. Volunteers accommodation would be nice. More cooperation between the volunteers.
Future volunteers: Come and join us.
Open to mentoring new volunteers: szutstomili@gmail.
2/11/2016 MAGGIE WILLIAMS 66 UK. 12 DAYS with POSITIVE ACTION IN MORIA /AFGHAN HILL. CLOTHING AND RUBBISH CLEARING MAINLY DAY SHIFT.
POSITIVE AND DID FEEL USEFUL. WOULD DO OTHER TYPES OF WORK AS WELL. STAY NEARER TO WHEREVER WE ARE WORKING.
Recommendations: I THINK GREAT THINGS ARE BEING DONE AND THINGS WILL CHANGE ALL THE TIME AS NEW PEOPLE COME UP WITH IDEAS. THE ONE THING THAT I THOUGHT WOULD REALLY IMPROVE THINGS IS A BETTER HAND OVER IN EACH AREA BETWEEN SHIFTS. ALSO HAVING AN INTERPRETER IN THE DRY CLOTHES AREA WHEN THERE ARE A LOT OF WET PEOPLE AS IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO EXPLAIN
Future volunteers: WALKING BOOTS,LAYERS AND WATERPROOF TOP AND BOTTOMS. A GOOD KNIFE OR MULTITOOL. HOW WET IT WAS!
Open to being a mentor: MAGGIEWILLIAMSGLASS@GMAIL.COM
2/11/2016. Amanda Cawood age 61 from England. One month with The Starfish Foundation. Welcomed refugees in Molyvos harbour and distributed clothes,food and water. Registered refugees in the harbour. Cleaned beaches,collected rubbish from the harbour and roadsides. Dug up old dingys from the beaches and collected life vests. Worked in the clothes distribution tents at Oxy and the IRC camp. Worked in the clothing distribution houses organizing the arrival and stock rotation of clothes and toiletries.
Very positive experience. If I go back I would probably hire a car.
Found it difficult to settle at home. I found I was irritable with friends who posted trivia on face book and wanted to talk about trivial matters.
Recommendations: The Starfish Foundation hold a weekly meeting on a Sunday for as many volunteers as possible. At this meeting the previous week is discussed and plans for the coming week are also discussed. Votes are taken. There is excellent leadership from Melinda.
Future volunteers: I was surprised how much I enjoyed the experience
Open to being a mentor: email@example.com
2/21/2016 Noemie laabaied. 10 days with Better days for Moria and no borders kitchen.
I worked a bit of day shift and evening shift.
I distributed clothes, cooked, cleaned some fields, improve living condition (tent building), distributed food at the ferry.
Mostly positive experience, but really frustrated not to do more !!
More frustrated after I left! Needed support and talked to some fellow ex volunteers.
Volunteers on the Island all do an incredible job . They all gave me the strength to deal with the situation.
Open to being a mentor: Noemie.firstname.lastname@example.org
2/25/2016 michela 23 italy. one week with health point foundation, medical support. amazing experience. I really have no words to explain in a right way.
After I left, I felt really happy about my experience and really full of new feelings about humans and knowledge about the current condition of the world.
Future volunteers: just live your experience, help and watch the refugees in their eyes, they need support.
Open to being a mentor: email@example.com
2/26/2016 Louise Joselyn, 58, UK national, France resident, 2 weeks with I am you. Sorted clothes in warehouse, housing refugees in Moria Camp, general support in camp, cooking for volunteers, delivering clothing to Moria Camp. Day shifts only.
Very useful experience. Volunteers in Moria provide a human aspect and a very valuable service, even without language skills. Happy to do the same, but would go/do what is needed most.
I want to do more, but feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the crisis, especially in light of new geo-political developments.
Recommendations: News/info embargo on life in the camp is detrimental. Outside volunteers are just as useful but feel resentful they can't see what is happening in Moria. More information (ie from volunteers of their experiences/observations) would help prevent an unneccessary 'us and them' mentality, giving them better understanding of why access is limited.
Future volunteers: Sign up with one of the organisations on the ground there (we did) especially if you are only there for a short time. Be flexible - expect to have to do anything that comes up as the situation changes. Own transport adds flexibility (ie rental car between 3 or 4 people). Don't be 'precious' about being on the 'front line' to help refugees. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that is just as useful/vital.
2/27/2016 (anonymous) 6 days with Edinburgh Cares/Drop in the Ocean. Day and night shifts-south beach. Child Protection fact-finding/meetings. Housing/travel support for refugees. Food distribution-Mytiline. Painting/decorating -House for unaccompanied minors/Mytiline.
Positive experience. Good links- continuing work re Child Protection.
No need for psychological help. I am a psychologist and will access it. I provided support on Lesvos.
Recommendations: Child protection protocols/procedures- mixed practice. Definite gaps.
Future volunteers: Prepare and make plans before going. Throwing money at issues is not productive, disrespectful and not strategic. Learn from more experienced volunteers.
Open to being a mentor: firstname.lastname@example.org
2/29/2016 Charles Storer, 3rd trip, first to assess, second with four trucks of specific aid, and this one with two celebrities to help. stayed at Mytinena Hotel west of Mytileni, and Hotel Akti near Molyvos. Worked with so many wonderful small NGO's and private individuals. Brought trucks of aid with the charity I lead called Hope and Aid Direct. Worked closely with Nefeli in Attika warehouse and Robert in Kalloni warehouse, and the Kempsons, Drop in the ocean volunteers and South Group coordination beach crews. Warehouse distribution, and refugee beach and Port support
Positive experience, useful, emotional for all, part of the amazing volunteer 'family'
Now determined to do more and angry at the media and Political pen pushers who deal in numbers and not human beings. Been doing humanitarian work for 20 years.
Recommendations: Things can always be improved on, but some amazing people are doing amazing things. The challenges we faced were mainly pre-arrival in identifying and then being able to communicate with the right people regarding specific aid needs, official invitations to bring trucks or send containers, receiving warehouse addresses but knowing which had space and which didn't and who to contact, and suitable hotel accommodation. 'Info Point' in facebook was my main source of details, and it's great in describing all the different groups locations and options, but there is a big need I feel for a single central volunteer coordination group for the whole Island, and indeed all the Islands. Forget the likes of UNHCR who are just not interested in supporting the smaller NGO's and volunteers who are actually providing all the main refugee support . A coordination group is needed to answer all enquiries, provide advice, link all volunteer points around the Island, meet and greet all new arriving volunteers, provide brief protocol training, direct volunteer groups to crisis spots, maintain written info and keep it up to date, and link this into the bigger picture. This is not in any way a criticism of the current groups and organisers. I have nothing but admiration for every single volunteer and group that is working so hard to do what they can to help. The Greek Islanders themselves that are involved in helping, are also amazing.
Future volunteers: Sign up to Info point for Lesvos Volunteers, Read as much as you can, connect with others, and just do it. You'll never regret it! Take a hi vis top, torch and head torch, and the rest will come naturally.
Open to being a mentor: email@example.com
3/2/2016 Rosemarie Jolley, 39, UK. 5 days with RefugEase, Better Days for Moria, Attika, I Am You, No Borders Kitchen - whoever needed us at the time. Distributed clothes, cooked, sorted warehouses, Beach patrol, distributed food, day and night shifts.
I did feel useful but I was also aware there is so much to do. I would stay for longer if I went back.
After I left: Angry that this is being allowed to carry on and the rest of the EU seem to have washed their hands of the situation. Excited at the things we can do back home to continue helping and supporting both refugees AND volunteers. I had a lot of support from the team and from my church back home.
Recommendations: Part of the group I travelled with had been out in October and commented how much better everything is now, infrastructure and organisation.
Future volunteers: Wear lots of layers for night shifts - it gets cold! I was surprised/impressed by the feeling of community. As soon as you arrive as a volunteer you become part of one big group - race, religion etc don't matter, you all just get on with the task at hand.
3/2/2016 Chloe Borland, One Week with RefugEase. Food distributions, clothes distributions, warehouse sorting, boat rescues. Totally positive experience. Compelled to return. Great (and needed) psychological support from fellow team members
Don't go alone, its too emotionally intense.
3/3/2016 Priti, 30, United States. 7 Days with Better Days for Moria. Urdu translator, ran tents, worked in the kids tent, did odd jobs. There were moments where I felt there could be more efficiency. Camilla, who ran the AM shifts did an amazing job coordinating at the beginning and all through her shift. I wished more people like her were in charge. I also think that there was a lack of interaction between the volunteers and refugees.
After I left: Positive, but also sad and in despair about the whole situation. I am trying to keep my hope that good people will continue to stand up and help these people and the politicians will wake up.
Did you feel the need for psychological help, and if so did you get it?: Yes, and yes.
Recommendations: I wrote this in earlier: Stronger shift coordinators like Camilla who really knew how to delegate tasks and keep us informed. I also think that there was a lack of interaction between the volunteers and refugees. I think for moral of all, and part of the purpose of coming is making sure people do interact. I know there is a communications barrier, but I felt that even the people that made the effort to talk to the refugees made the refugees day better. I wish more people did so. Also, I am not sure what can be done with the volunteers that come just to take selfies of themselves, but if someone could address that, it would be great.
Future volunteers: Do not be afraid to jump in and help where help is needed. People do not know you and what you can do.
Open to being a mentor: firstname.lastname@example.org
3/4/2016 Carly, 24, USA. 3 weeks in december with the Lemon Team Tea Tent, Clothing distribution. Distributed clothes, changed children, made tea, served tea, biscuits and fruit, garbage duty, made volunteer food. I worked both day and night shifts. Indescribable experience. Incredibly emotionally difficult but such a positive experience that I wouldn't trade for the world.
After I left: Sad. Guilty. Confused. Empty. Alone. Misunderstood. I felt the need for psychological help more at the beginning than at the end. Maybe not so much help but just someone to talk to who wanted to listen and who understood. I found that through the amazing volunteers who helped me so much, so I was doing better emotionally by the end with all the support and people to talk to. But I also felt almost numb to the surroundings by the end. It was such a roller coaster of emotions I'm not eve sure what I was feeling.
Recommendations: I think everyone tried their very best to organize things and support each other. I think the camp blossomed and grew every single day. The people in charge were the most inspiring people I have ever met.
Future volunteers: seek someone to talk to if you need it. Everyone was so busy helping the refugees that I didn't want to bother anyone, it just wasn't as important or serious as the help the refugees needed. One day I just couldn't hold it in and broke down crying and so many people were there for me, and had been the whole time if I just would have asked. They all have different feelings inside but they all understand and are more than happy to help other volunteers as well not just the refugees.
Open to being a mentor: email@example.com
3/5/2016. LeRoy Euvrard, 73, US Citizen living in France. One month in late November-December with Starfish. Day shift. Warehouse, clothes tent, beach, harbor, but mostly food distribution. Mostly positive experience. All needs better training and organization.
Recommendations: Better lines of authority and responsibility both within and between organizations, and better guidance and training as to individual duties.
Future volunteers: Wonderful people from all over the world trying to do their best to help.
3/6/2016 Susanne, 25, Germany 2 weeks with Better Days for Moria. Distributing clothes, spending time in kids tent, activities with people in the camp like playing cards etc., trash picking, tent numbering - worked almost all the time dayshift.
It was amazing. I am very happy about how it went. I think especially the quality time with people that live in the camp atm, or are stranded, was very important for me but for sure for them as well. It is so nice to give anyone ,who is in need of having someone to listen or play games , your time and not just run around all the time.
It is my first day at home and I must admit I feel pretty awful. I am not happy, it feels surreal and I would like to go back very soon because at the moment I am not sure how I will be able to continue my everyday life the way I did before. Working on Lesbos give one a purpose.
Recommendations: I had a great time and feel very greatful about the long term volunteers who are able to coordinate things.
Future volunteers: Just go and experience it all. There will be days where you feel like this whole world is such a shit place and there is no way this will ever change, you feel powerless and weak and sad... but on the other hand the days which give you energy and happiness are just much stronger on impact. The Better Days Camp has an atmosphere which cant be put in words, I never felt that way before. It is so peaceful.
Open to be a mentor: susanneb24gmail.com