Looking back at the past few weeks I spent in Greece, I can only feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity I had and for the amazing people I met. Volunteering in Alexandria refugee camp was an intense and rich experience that allowed me to see and learn a lot: we’re talking about a camp that assures minimum living conditions given the circumstances, but where there’s still a lot of work to do when you think about the way a person should live. Giannitsa camp, where I’ve been a couple of times for distributions, doesn’t work the same way at all – and it’s just one camp among so many – there is no shade, not enough space, no regular distributions besides the ones Refugee Support provide, and I could go on and on about this.
In both camps it’s hard to see how people are stuck there in poor conditions, with no future perspectives and with their kids growing wildly, without school or any structure. And yet everyone still greets us everyday with a welcoming and warm smile and the kids hold our hands and call us ”my friend”. Working in the camp allowed me to really see these people more than just looking at them, to speak to them, to know their names, their stories and their origins. I got to learn some Arabic words and to teach some in English too, sometimes even in Portuguese. I got to see the women take off their headscarves and their long clothes in the boutique, I got to learn about their cultures and about what differentiates us, but also about what connects us – and it’s more than you can imagine.
All this experience taught me a lot about gratefulness, kindness and about how we all should try to be more aware of what’s happening in the world and to do something about it, even if it’s not much. I haven’t been in the camp for long, but I’ve been there enough time to stop seeing this as a distant situation and to see it as a thing that we all should care about – please understand that this is anything but a matter of (bad) luck, that these people didn’t do anything for this to happen and that it could’ve been us and our families. Please inform yourselves and care about this, get angry, do something – and donate, if possible!
The best part was really the people, both the refugees and the volunteers. I just realized what I already knew – we’re not so different from everyone else as we think we are, and diversity is a beautiful thing. I will now keep doing whatever I can to keep helping and to ”leave this world a little better than I found it”.