Reem and Aiya: Nicosia July 2021

In the summer of 2021, my daughter, Aiya, and I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Dignity Center in Nicosia, Cyprus.

We quickly realized that the Center truly lives up to its name- it provides dignity to refugees.

It was humbling to see all the work that had been done by the wonderful team of people who run that branch, Paula, Laura, Ba and others.

Aiya and I had initially decided to volunteer because we are in the habit of doing so with various organizations, every summer. However, what made the Dignity Center so special was the fact that it offered refugees a workable path forward, by helping them with paperwork, teaching them a skill (sewing), and preparing them to apply for jobs. All these things are made possible after only providing them with the most basic things; a clean place to shower and do laundry.

Aiya and I helped in all the different areas of the Center. We taught refugees to write CVs, helped with laundry, ran the reception, and cut fabric for various projects at the sewing center. I also taught an art workshop where refugees made their own greeting cards.

It was the best kind of hard work. We left each day feeling like, in our own small way, we had made a difference.

The Center is run like a well-oiled machine, but it is in need of all its parts to function. The secret is strong leadership, one that doesn’t lose sight of its mission, which is fundamental to the Center.

Everyone who volunteers at the Dignity Center is there to help and understands the mission. We hope to return one day soon!

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