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22 Jul

One Happy Family sees everyone and recognizes individuality and tries to give as much support as possible

Sophia, 25, Social work student from Germany, volunteering at OHF for 6 months.

This is my most memorable moment:

It is difficult to define one single memorable moment. What makes the experience of being here so memorable to me are the many encounters with people of cultures, thoughts and perceptions of the world that could not be more different, but still share a peaceful and safe space together. I am grateful to got the chance to meet so many people that taught me how easy it can be to unconditionally share, love and care for others.

This struck me the most:

I thought I was informed quite well about the situation on Lesvos before coming here. But after actually arriving and living on the island for some time, I had more insights in what it implies to be stuck on the island as an asylum seeker. It  is the general conditions and what refugees are exposed to, that struck me. Unfair treatment from the government, huge lack of humanitarian aid, racism, fascism, marginalization, and so much more. Knowing many people who are suffering this hardship and being friends with some of them, makes me admire their resilience even more and look forward to never stop engaging in this crisis.

One Happy family is:

The place where people can just have a nice time. It sounds so simple and insignificant, but it is exactly what makes it such an important place. It allows people to forget about problems, to find support and console in the community and to be empowered by responsibilities and any kinds of activities. The name “One Happy Family” is really representative and each member is equally important.

This is what I would like to tell other people

Volunteering in crises does not always mean to be able to help everyone and to be able to solve all problems. Sometimes it is ok, and already a lot to contribute to one happy day for one single person. Many people tend to forget, that it is not about one homogenous group of people the crisis is about, but about thousands and thousands of great personalities with complex stories and many diverse resources. 

My tasks in One Happy Family are

During my time at One Happy Family my tasks switched. From doing daily tasks like working in the Nest, the Café or at the bank, to spending a lot of time in the Womens space organizing special activities, to doing the shift coordination for the volunteers. Tasks of the shift coordination were to welcome and introduce new volunteers, schedule all tasks and activities, distribute the daily tasks and being a mediator and contact person for any kinds of questions and concerns the volunteers had.

AND driving 😀 

What do you think makes One Happy Family different from other similar organizations

I think there are many other NGOs on this Island doing great work. Work that is so different to what OHF does, that it is difficult to actually compare it. Special about OHF is the feeling and safety people get, who work here and visit us. OHF sees everyone and recognizes individuality and tries to give as much support as possible.

What motivated you to stay 6 months and why do you think it is important that volunteers stay for a long time?

There are many things I just started to understand after being here for some time. For example issues about the asylum process and what it implies for the many people asking for asylum. But also the intercultural differences that caused some misunderstandings – after a while I had a better understanding for others decisions or actions. This does not mean, that short term volunteers are less helpful. Anyone who is willing to leave their home and come here for a few weeks, is contributing a huge part of OHFs work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Jul

“One Happy Family is a safe bubble”

Jojo, 23, Student in Educational Studies in History, Politics and Sports

My most memorable moment is… 

When we organised the first football tournament and saw that everybody was so happy afterwards.

What struck me the most is… 

How the whole situation is setting up refugees for failure. People lack access to the most basic things they need in their daily life (reliable information, medical help, healthy food, money, English and Greek lessons…). They have to overcome so many obstacles in order to have a safe life.

One Happy Family is…

A safe bubble where people can forget the situation they are in for a moment and relax, learn English or guitar, get a haircut or just chat and learn from each other.

This is what I would like to tell other people:

The situation for many people here is terrible. The idea behind it is that if refugees suffer, they will stop coming. It is not a problem of money as European governments pay billions of euros for military purposes.

My tasks in One Happy Family are…

Organizing the football events, teaching English classes and helping with the daily tasks at our community centre.

What do you think makes One Happy Family different from other organisations?

The work of One Happy Family is special because the centre is mostly run by volunteer refugees. They run the place and international volunteers simply support them.

11 Feb

“OHF tries to create a space where everybody can feel safe and welcome.”

Felix, 26, Airfreight clerk

This is my most memorable moment… 

There are plenty of memorable moments. But the new years eve celebration with all the helpers and their families was fantastic.

This struck me the most… 

The dedication that all the involved people show every day to make this place to what it is.

One Happy Family is… 

A truly special place that brings happiness when needed the most.

This is what I would like to tell other people… 

When you hear about refugees always remind yourself that we are talking about humans just like you and me.

My tasks in One Happy Family are… 

Coordinating the Youth Space, logistics, and helping everywhere else where I’m needed: At the bank and barber shop, in the coffee, washing dishes, being in the kitchen. 

What do you think makes One Happy Family different from other similar organisations… 

OHF tries to create a space where everybody can feel safe and welcome. Plus, it is working with the people not for the people which I think is very important. But I’m sure all the other organisations try to do that as well. 

28 Jan

“In One Happy Family I have learned more than in any other place before.” 

Ludovic, 25, Product Manager in Baby Care Company

This is my most memorable moment…

There are so many moments… I will always remember Christmas party with all the helpers dancing all together, no matter of their country of origin. Lovely team!

This struck me the most…

When I saw helpers coming from Moria in the morning for the shuttle, with white and pale faces, like if they almost died in the camp because of the cold… 

One Happy Family is…

The best place to live when you need consideration, love, family, help, warmth, a café or more.

This is what I would like to tell other people…

I feel like we are brothers, I wish we will spend time together soon in Europe.

My tasks in One Happy Family are…

I am a regular volunteer. I wanted to be a volunteer among others, to do any tasks when needed. So far I have worked for every activity at OHF: teaching english, serving food and coffees, playing sports, running the bank and barbershop and so many more. I have even been involved in building the Shisha Lounge Roof and the new volunteer office. At OHF I have learned more than in any other place before. 

What do you think makes One Happy Family different from other similar organisations…

One Happy Family is different thanks to its coordination team and helpers. The coordination team ensures that our values are respected and the helpers run this place as if it was their own family.

14 Jan

Refugee story tellers Episode 2: Praying For Disease

“Living under inhumane circumstances in the refugee camp Moria in Lesvos, Greece, people do everything they can in order to get a vulnerability paper from the doctors. It is said, that if you are vulnerable, the authorities will move you away from the camp to better circumstances.

In this episode, we listen to the voice of a young refugee who is currently living in the camp. He explains in further details about the hard conditions, violence and the abuse of alcohol that takes place in the camp.

The episode is created by Khodadad
Produced by Refugee Media Production”

17 Dec

Refugee story tellers Episode 1

This first episode of the new Podcast series from Refugee story tellers, is made from one of our most dedicated students, Khudadad:

In this episode, he explains to us through an interview with a refugee from Afghanistan like himself, about the smuggler’s route – how it works and how thousands of people smuggle themselves to Europe as the only solution they have for a peaceful life.

Then he goes on about how people get sent to the military camp Moria, where the hardships continue for months or even years.

In the next episode, we take our listeners inside the camp to understand a daily routine of one of the resident’s living in a tent in camp Moria.

31 Oct

‘’Coming here made me realise, that every individual matters’’

Silke Reiter, 36, anthropologist from Austria

This is my most memorable moment…
I am super impressed by the kitchen team. Cooking for so many people in such a tiny place is an incredible task. The kitchen team is so dedicated to their work and they always try to make the best out of everything and they are cooking delicious, nutritious and healthy food.

This struck me the most…
The stories that the people keep telling me about the life in Moria. When I sit down with them, they often start talking to me about what they experience and they show me pictures and videos of it. What especially hits me every time, are the horrible conditions that especially people in the tents have to live in. It is hard for me to deal with their stories, I really can’t imagine how it must be for them, to live there, to go through all of this. Still and nevertheless, when they come to One Happy Family, they have a smile on their face and they are really trying to have a good time! I think, as a volunteer, I can learn a lot from them and it reminds me how privileged we are. 

One Happy Family is…
A lovely place, where people have the possibility to hang out together and have a good time. I think it’s a good way for them to be distracted for a while of what they have been through and get some time out from the life in Moria.

This is what I would like to tell other people…
I think that everyone who has or could find the possibility to volunteer with refugees, should do it. It doesn’t matter if it is back home or somewhere abroad. You will meet the people behind the statistical numbers. This makes it real and you will understand that all of them are humans like you and me. I think it is our responsibility to speak up for those who can’t and give them a voice. We have the power to do so, instead of them. 

My tasks in One Happy Family are…
I help out wherever needed. I help out in most of the projects. The bank, the barber, the tailor, the cafe, etc. I try to help improve whatever I can and also learn from whoever I can, as much as I can.

12 Oct

‘’We have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.’’

Ross Ireland, 64, a semi-retired businessman from England.

This is my most memorable moment…
My favourite time of the day is when we close the main building to adults and the school kids come for their supper. They walk in singing songs and reciting the alphabet in English and they’re always happy and full of energy. It’s great to see that the kids are happy, even though they live in very bad circumstances.

This struck me the most…
The scale of the problem on this island. The number of people stuck here and the number of new people that arrive everyday. We would like to do more to help them, but it’s impossible for one organisation to do everything. At least when they visit One Happy Family they are treated with respect and being here is a positive experience for them.

One Happy Family is…
A haven in a living hell – a safe place for people to live a normal existence for a few hours every day.

This is what I would like to tell other people…
Despite the diversity of the people and the complexities of the problem we have many things in common as all humans do. Most of the people are fleeing wars and violence and genuinely need help.
We need support to carry on this work. Help from the outside is important to maintain the work that we and others are doing here.

My tasks in One Happy Family are mainly…
Organising building work, repairs and maintenance. Just generally keeping things going.
I enjoy taking part in the lunch service where we serve about 800 meals every day. I also help with the hygiene shop where we distribute basic items like soap, toothpaste and shampoo, also diapers to parents with babies.
I’m an enthusiastic but not very good chess player and when I arrived we only had 1 chess board so I bought another 10 so that more people could play which has become very popular. Chess is a really absorbing game and a good distraction from the problems of daily life. Amongst the visitors to One Happy Family there are an Iranian and an Afghan chess champion!

What do you think makes One Happy Family different from other similar organisations…
It’s the very successful recruitment of helpers from the camps who actually run mostly everything here. One Happy Family is organised in such a way that it facilitates through trust and cooperation rather than top down management which is great for efficiency – and the self esteem of the helpers.

02 Oct

One Happy Podcast #9

In this episode we will talk about different topics:

First, Mary from the Pedagogical Institute of LA that volunteered in One Happy Family for few weeks, will explain what ‘The Nest’ is and how and who started it, what it can offer to children and why it is very important here.

Then 3 of our visitors will talk about their situation in Moria and their dreams.

Aref is here on the island since 8 months, fortunately he got the blue stamp recently. Now he has to wait for his sister and her family. Listen to what he says is happening right now on Lesvos.

Hassan is here since 2 years and continuously gets the red stamp, the only things he wants is going to Athens.

Khodadad is here since 1 year and 3 months, continuously getting the red stamp, he doesn’t care anymore now, until his situation will change he just spends his time to get skills for his future. Listen in the podcast what he has to say about Moria.

Enjoy the episode and let us know what you think ✨

26 Sep

‘’ We need to keep fighting for people’s human rights!‘’

Lily Peck, 27, agriculture/ plant sciences PhD student from England

For the past 5 weeks Lily has been working with us in One Happy Family for the second time this year. After this experience, she wants to raise more awareness in her home country. ‘’People think that the crisis here on Lesvos is over. It is not over and that is why we need to keep raising awareness in our home countries.’’

This is my most memorable moment…
‘’My most memorable moment is our day trip to the women’s festival in Eressos with a group of women from Moria. The women’s house in One Happy Family and it’s visitors had been working on making bags out of used clothes, including a wedding dress, and we sold those bags at the festival to raise money for the women’s house.
They told me that they loved the trip because they never really get out of Moria or Mytilini. We spend time swimming, eating lunch and hanging out in the sun, listening to music. When we dropped the women off at Moria, they told me that they wish they could turn back the clock to the start of the day so they could do this day all over again.’’

This struck me the most…
‘’The strength and the bravery of the helpers and the visitors in One Happy Family. I also worked with the women’s swimming class at Sport For Refugees. The strength and the bravery that these women showed by getting back into the water really amazed me. Mostly all of them have had a traumatic experience crossing over from Turkey. You can see that they are scared to get in and put their heads under water. But seeing them trying to overcome their fear and learning to swim was incredible’’

One Happy Family is…
‘’A utopian communist society where everyone is equal regardless of religion, status or age. Everyone here is treated fairly and with love and respect.’’

This is what I would like to tell other people…
‘’The crisis here is not over, even though it’s not in the media anymore. People are still arriving here, for example there were over 500 new arrivals in one weekend. We need to keep raising awareness and promoting the organisations that are trying to do their best to help out here on Lesvos. We need to keep fighting for people’s human rights, because they cannot do it themselves while they are stuck here. The people here are fleeing genuine persecution or danger and we should never forget that in Europe, where often the humanity is removed, and the situation here is seen as a problem. We have to keep raising awareness in our home countries.’’

My tasks in One Happy Family were…
‘’Supporting the 3 helpers, Sara, Zahra and Hanan, in the women’s house to make it a calm, peaceful and empowering environment. I introduced a new program while I was here, which includes key health advice from DocMobile once a week, legal advice and English classes.
As I told before I also helped out at Sport For Refugees with the swimming classes and the running classes. It was so good to help, support and engage young people to take them out of Moria and make them do physical excercises.’’