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13 Oct

“I hope that OHF will be able to continue having this wonderful spirit!”

Rebekka has been with OHF for the last four months: After starting at the playground she joined the school after one week and “never left”. ☺ 

And Rebekka made an huge impact in the Adult School – thank you Rebekka for all of your heart and soul leaded actions that you let us participate in & a big thank you for being who you are!

This is my most memorable moment:

I have some nice moments. The first was the African culture day because I felt like a visitor that day – I could just enjoy myself. I talked to all the people, like for example with my students, we were all just dancing and talking. It was very nice to experience OHF like this. 

All of my other great moments are from being in the school: to teach different English levels was really nice. We had a lot of fun and I enjoyed every single day. We had good talks in English and they also tried to teach me Farsi, which was most of the time funnier for my students than for me!

Also the work with Abdul and Aien, the school directors, was very nice. Supporting them in their work was very important to me and they do such a good job. I learned a lot from them and I hope they learnt something from me as well. 

There are special moments every day, today was with my women only class. When we started the class, they didn’t even know their ABC’s and now they can hold a conversation in English. This is very amazing!

The best part is that I’m still in contact with a lot of my old students and to see their progress makes me really proud!

This struck me the most:

To come here and to see the situation for the people here. To not only hear it via the news, but to hear the individual and really dramatic stories – not always easy to handle but this struck me. Or sometimes you feel exhausted – everything here can be really intense and I had some doubts or not feeling useful. But this place and the people can give you also a lot of power to continue. And I mean if they can… 

One Happy Family is…

A great place and a great opportunity for all the people from the communities to forget about their hard lives and struggles in Moria. OHF tries to provide a nice, friendly atmosphere for everybody – it’s a nice happy bubble where you can just dive in and forget the rest. 

This is what I would like to tell other people:

It’s an amazing experience to volunteer here – it makes you happy and sad at the same time. It makes you happy because you can see that you can offer some help and give joyful moments to a lot of people and it makes you sad as well because you, as a white privileged person, just come here to volunteer and at one point you can leave – this is for me feels so unfair because the other people are stuck. 

But all in all, it was a great opportunity to get to know myself better and it made me think about what is really important in life. 

My tasks in One Happy Family are…

I supported the school directors, I was their right hand. I supported them with all of the daily struggles that we have, getting an overview and some structure for over 300 students. We try to give each student a place in the school and make them feel welcomed. And also, to empower the teachers and build a good team spirit – I was also always learning myself. 

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

I extended my stay three times – just because of the relationship I had with the school, with the team in the school and with the students – people who come everyday, walking for an hour just to be in my class – that is an incredible feeling. So, it was definitely the school that motivated me to extend and extend. ☺ 

Also, if you stay long term, you can get to know the people and volunteers better – you can build really good friendships. 

I think it’s important to stay for a long time because if you stay shorter you will have a nice first impression but you don’t really see the whole picture and maybe you don’t really feel part of the centre completely or that you have much responsibility. You see the needs when you stay longer, I wouldn’t go back to Germany if I didn’t have to start my studies now. 

I will miss this place and I hope that it will be able to continue having this wonderful spirit. Every single person here is doing a great job! 

If you want to apply to be a volunteer you can find more information on our website: www.ohf-lesvos.org/volunteer 

07 Oct

“OHF’s goal: reactivate people’s strengths and their desire for joy”

After volunteering with us for around 2.5 months, we had to say goodbye to our most motivated kitchen supporter – Anton!

Anton, who will start studying “Geography of Africa” now, will be very deeply missed at OHF!

This is my most memorable moment:

I can’t think of only one moment, because most of the moments are memorable in a way. So is the organic dynamic of an usual day at OHF, people know how to act and react and  everybody contributes something to the place, but the place as well provides to everybody – this dynamic is felt in most of the memorable moments at OHF.

This struck me:

The hard contrast between the people from the communities and us as volunteers. Not sharing the same conditions makes it hard to work together in an insightful way. Sharing same perspectives would be very important for this place but it wasn’t always easy to focus on what we have in common with all the people at the Centre. Sometimes you define the relations here by the differences and not by the similarities.

One Happy Family is…

A very colourful and crazy place. Crazy in a good way 🙂

OHF is providing a very meaningful environment for the people, an environment that allows everyone to socialize in a peaceful way, to engage in activities, to feel ownership and to escape this horrific “vacuum” they have to live in in the camps. And also for international volunteers it is a very suitable platform to engage in this weird situation for people being stuck on the islands. The ease and happiness occurring on people’s faces after having them at OHF for only few days make their situation bearable to a degree accomplished by themselves. I assume that’s where to find OHF’s goal: reactivate people’s strengths and their desire for joy. Hard to achieve but facilitated for many people.

This is what I would like to say:

Don’t hesitate to be friendly and greet people with a smile. For many people, like those who have to live on this island, it means much more than just a gesture. Welcoming them wherever they are sounds big but can be done in small things and that’s where we should find ourselves involved in people’s struggle of being homeless in hostile conditions. Many of them went through a traumatizing past, live in an unbearable present and so they deserve any better for those years coming. And as far as I can see Lesvos and its camps are anything but the right place for all the families, children, women and men living there and watching their future passing!

My tasks in One Happy Family are…

Being the most motivated kitchen support! 🙂 No, I’m kidding. My main task is being an English teacher in the Adult school as well as for the Helpers English classes in the evening. Besides teaching I jump in wherever needed.

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

Of course the motto of working with the people instead of for the people must be an immediate idea after seeing how the asylum seekers are forced to live. Many people are given the opportunity to work at OHF and they are the ones providing such a diverse range of activities, providing food for so many people and even education in terms of teaching English. Most of us are aware that many cultures, background and stories that are not only compatible encounter at OHF. The challenge of enabling people to continue living their lives with their cultural backgrounds and allowing them at the same time to escape their current situation and the past in their home countries is totally faced and in 99% embraced.

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

I wouldn’t have liked to come for only three weeks because after four weeks I started feeling the place, I began hating and loving the place – I was then on an emotional level which is one of my personal prerequisites for such work. For me it was very important to stay longer because I wouldn’t like to do “volunteering with refugees” as a stopover thing. Paying respect to this situation and the people means, in my opinion, as well to offer time. And it came through that I personally could achieve much more in a longer time.

16 Sep

“With them instead of for them (…) In my opinion this works perfectly – it IS possible!”

Ramo – a happy, positive minded teacher and barber shop manager – but also a dancer, cleaner (yes, we know that dish washing wasn’t your favourite daily task) and on his last day he even joined our security team!

In total Ramo stayed with us for around 2 months – but it felt like he’s been with OHF a lot longer. Thank you Ramo for being such a good support and for all of your energy!

Get an insight into Ramo’s volunteering experience at OHF with the following interview made during the end of his stay at our Community Centre:

This is my most memorable moment:

There are many, one of them happened just yesterday. I’m currently helping in the adult school as an English teacher, but my students didn’t know that I will be leaving in two weeks. Yesterday I told them that I’ll be leaving when they asked me about the registration for the next class. There was a family, they’re all students, but it’s a family: a mother and two daughters, they cried because they wanted me to be their teacher for the next level. I felt like I will be leaving them, I’ve never been a teacher before, but me being here and teaching them English is so important for them. I will never forget this moment.

This struck me the most:

The so called “Life-jacket graveyard”: When I saw this place, I was with 4 other volunteers. We went to see Molyvos and other nice places – quite a touristic weekend but on the way towards Molyvos we wanted to see the view. We then saw the life-jacket graveyard, I hadn’t heard about it before. Seeing all these life-jackets dumped onto hills felt like a huge slap in the face in terms of humanity!

One Happy Family is…

For me its one of the things where the name explains it best. It is seriously One Happy Family! I understood it just recently. I thought a lot about the system with our partners, of how we work with the helpers, of how the food grows in the garden and then we use it for the kitchen. The plastic spoons from lunch are reused for some art and garden projects.  Broken machines from the barber will be brought to the makerspace and they fix it. All of this is One Happy Family, it’s like a life-circle.

This is what I would like to tell other people:

As a volunteer there are many duties when we go back to our homes: not all of them have to be about One Happy Family but I really would like to tell the reality of the so called “refugee crisis” here. There is nothing more on the media and yet they are thousands of people seeking asylum here, living in one of the worst refugee camps in the world. I heard about Lesvos and Moria before my stay here, but I had no idea how bad the situation really is.

We will have a special presentation on our faculty at university because this is my internship, so I will use this presentation to explain to others:

I will explain the system of OHF, how it functions: “MIT ihnen statt für Sie, with them instead of for them” – I want to explain this system. In my opinion this works perfectly – it IS possible! So this model could be applied elsewhere where migration and immigration are a topic.

My tasks in One Happy Family are…

The first three weeks I did only daily tasks, I liked the bank a lot. They offered me then to teach in the adult school and we reopened the helpers English classes. I’m thus mainly busy with the school. Between this time I try to help with the other tasks: I like the bank, so I do it as well.

I’m also serving food for the kids – It’s easy and fun for me.

I also now have the responsibility for the barber shop: so I’m in close contact with our barbers.

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

Working WITH the people, but this is maybe the most common answer.

It’s an NGO working with many partners on one place. I can imagine that this is very challenging: working with many but not having conflicts. It’s amazing how it functions!

And working with 65 helpers at the moment, they take their jobs very seriously and they know their work so well. This willingness of the helpers, to improve and to produce something impresses me as well. Also the visitors, this connection between volunteers, helpers and visitors: people take care of the place of OHF, they want it. I see many visitors taking care of the place: helping with cleaning etc.

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

Long-term volunteers take over more responsibilities: for example if the teacher changes every two weeks the students will be confused. It depends on the tasks, the daily tasks can be done as well by short termers, but there are many tasks that need more responsibility.

You can make the place better than before only with the long-term volunteers. And you’ll understand everything much better than the short termers, you’ll know as well the short cuts for many things, which makes you more helpful for the organization. 🙂

And Ramo added… 

It’s gonna be probably one of the unique experiences in my life, even though I used to live in a refugee environment almost all my life. I wasn’t expecting to have such an amazing experience where I learned a lot, I’m very grateful for this.

I saw the migration crisis with my own eyes now.,plus in addition I could do it in an NGO that makes this experience much more valuable. Thanks to EVERYONE!

20 Sep

One Happy Podcast #8

This Episode is all about recording, editing and creating Radio.

We present you the Radio Lesvos workshop in One Happy Family, organised and led by the three amazing volunteers

Amelie, Clement and Adrien from Monobloc.

Amelie will explain what they wanted to achieve in their workshop, how it went, what participants learnt and why One Happy Family is a very interesting place to do workshops. 

Also two of the participants explain why they loved being part of the whole program, why it is important to be active and learn during the time people are on this island and what they actually learned in this short two weeks.

18 Nov

Die Bank von Moria

“Good morning my friend.” My friend, das sind die ersten Wörter, die man auf Englisch lernt, wenn man in Moria lebt. So wie Mina, die Afghanin, die jeden Morgen an meinem Bankschalter steht. Also, Bankschalter ist übertrieben. Es ist ein halb kaputter Laptop aus dem Jahr 2001 und eine Metallkiste mit Spielgeld-Drachmen drin. Bloß, dass das Spielgeld tatsächlich etwas wert ist: Ein Tschai eine Drachme, ein Pulli zwei Drachmen. Mina bekommt zwei Drachmen von mir, wie jeden Tag, so lange sie ein Flüchtling in dem Lager auf Lesbos ist, dessen Name so klingt wie das böse Reich eines Tolkien-Romans: Moria. So ähnlich stelle ich es mir dort auch vor, nur ohne das rote Auge und die Orks. Dafür mit willkürlichen Militärs. “I’m sorry, I don’t have my Ausweis with me”, sagt Mina – Ausweis, das erste Wort, das man auf Deutsch lernt, wenn man ihn braucht, um Drachmen zu bekommen. “Ach, Mina, no Ausweis, no Drachma”, sage ich scherzhaft. Nach zwei Wochen kenne ich sie inzwischen, sie weiß ihre Ausweisnummer auswendig, ich habe ihn schon zehn Mal gesehen. Sie grinst und fragt mich, wo ich eigentlich herkomme. Aus Deutschland? “Ah, Angela Merkel, she’s very good.” Angela Merkel, die erste europäische Politikerin, die man kennt, wenn man auf Asyl hofft. Ich habe es aufgegeben zu erklären, dass sie eigentlich eher konservativ ist und eine Obergrenze einführt, die sie nicht so nennt, und dass eine linke Regierung vielleicht mehr täte. Es glaubt mir eh keiner.
Heute ist mein letzter Tag hier. “One Happy Family” heißt das allein auf Privatspenden basierende Community Center, das den Flüchtlingen von Moria ein bisschen Menschenwürde zurückgibt. “One Tired Family”, sagt Shaheer, einer der Freiwilligen aus den Reihen der Flüchtlinge, er ist 21 und wartet seit einem Jahr auf den blauen Stempel, um die Insel verlassen zu dürfen. “Ey Malaka, machst du noch die Bank?”, ruft er mir zu, als ich Mina ihre Drachmen gegeben habe. Malaka, das erste griechische Wort das man lernt, wenn man in einem militärgeführten Lager lebt. Wer es bei One Happy Family sagt, meint das Gegenteil.
“Nee, ich bin fertig”, antworte ich und schließe die Bank, also den Laptop, dessen System ohnehin schon seit fünf Minuten geschlossen hat. Oder seit 2001, genaugenommen. “Gut”, antwortet Shaheer und hilft mir, die Bank ins Büro zu tragen. “Dann kannst du mir ja jetzt mal das mit der AfD erklären. Warum mögen die uns nicht?” “Puuh”, stoße ich ratlos aus und überlege, ob es eine Antwort gibt. Also eine, die ich ihm geben kann. Oder überhaupt irgendeine sinnvolle. “Weil sie dich noch nicht kennen, Shaheer”, antworte ich schließlich. Er lacht sein halbironisches Lachen, er ist klug und weiß, dass es keine guten Antworten gibt. Es ist mein letzter Tag und ruhig heute, wir haben Zeit für Unterhaltungen und Tschai und ein bisschen Hoffnung.
“Pass auf dich auf, Malaka”, sagt er zum Abschied, obwohl er das nötiger hat als ich. Am Ende des Tages werde ich in einer luxuriös ausgestatteten Fähre nach Athen sitzen, und er wird zurück in das 20-Quadratmeter-Appartment gehen, wo er mit vier Freunden auf dem Boden schläft, weil das besser ist als Moria. “Du auch, Malaka”, antworte ich. Aber eigentlich meine ich: “Wir sehen uns in Deutschland, Habibi.” Habibi, das erste Wort auf Arabisch, das man lernt, wenn man Teil der Familie wird.

Artikel von Jesko, er war im Herbst 2017 Volontär im OHF.

Publiziert im Blitz-Stadtmagazin: https://blitz-world.de/halle/hal-kol.htm

Mehr Blogeinträge von Jesko über Europa, Lesbos und das OHF unter http://blog.derjesko.de oder auf Facebook unter https://www.facebook.com/derjesko

18 Nov

Die Bank von Moria

“Good morning my friend.” My friend, das sind die ersten Wörter, die man auf Englisch lernt, wenn man in Moria lebt. So wie Mina, die Afghanin, die jeden Morgen an meinem Bankschalter steht. Also, Bankschalter ist übertrieben. Es ist ein halb kaputter Laptop aus dem Jahr 2001 und eine Metallkiste mit Spielgeld-Drachmen drin. Bloß, dass das Spielgeld tatsächlich etwas wert ist: Ein Tschai eine Drachme, ein Pulli zwei Drachmen. Mina bekommt zwei Drachmen von mir, wie jeden Tag, so lange sie ein Flüchtling in dem Lager auf Lesbos ist, dessen Name so klingt wie das böse Reich eines Tolkien-Romans: Moria. So ähnlich stelle ich es mir dort auch vor, nur ohne das rote Auge und die Orks. Dafür mit willkürlichen Militärs. “I’m sorry, I don’t have my Ausweis with me”, sagt Mina – Ausweis, das erste Wort, das man auf Deutsch lernt, wenn man ihn braucht, um Drachmen zu bekommen. “Ach, Mina, no Ausweis, no Drachma”, sage ich scherzhaft. Nach zwei Wochen kenne ich sie inzwischen, sie weiß ihre Ausweisnummer auswendig, ich habe ihn schon zehn Mal gesehen. Sie grinst und fragt mich, wo ich eigentlich herkomme. Aus Deutschland? “Ah, Angela Merkel, she’s very good.” Angela Merkel, die erste europäische Politikerin, die man kennt, wenn man auf Asyl hofft. Ich habe es aufgegeben zu erklären, dass sie eigentlich eher konservativ ist und eine Obergrenze einführt, die sie nicht so nennt, und dass eine linke Regierung vielleicht mehr täte. Es glaubt mir eh keiner.
Heute ist mein letzter Tag hier. “One Happy Family” heißt das allein auf Privatspenden basierende Community Center, das den Flüchtlingen von Moria ein bisschen Menschenwürde zurückgibt. “One Tired Family”, sagt Shaheer, einer der Freiwilligen aus den Reihen der Flüchtlinge, er ist 21 und wartet seit einem Jahr auf den blauen Stempel, um die Insel verlassen zu dürfen. “Ey Malaka, machst du noch die Bank?”, ruft er mir zu, als ich Mina ihre Drachmen gegeben habe. Malaka, das erste griechische Wort das man lernt, wenn man in einem militärgeführten Lager lebt. Wer es bei One Happy Family sagt, meint das Gegenteil.
“Nee, ich bin fertig”, antworte ich und schließe die Bank, also den Laptop, dessen System ohnehin schon seit fünf Minuten geschlossen hat. Oder seit 2001, genaugenommen. “Gut”, antwortet Shaheer und hilft mir, die Bank ins Büro zu tragen. “Dann kannst du mir ja jetzt mal das mit der AfD erklären. Warum mögen die uns nicht?” “Puuh”, stoße ich ratlos aus und überlege, ob es eine Antwort gibt. Also eine, die ich ihm geben kann. Oder überhaupt irgendeine sinnvolle. “Weil sie dich noch nicht kennen, Shaheer”, antworte ich schließlich. Er lacht sein halbironisches Lachen, er ist klug und weiß, dass es keine guten Antworten gibt. Es ist mein letzter Tag und ruhig heute, wir haben Zeit für Unterhaltungen und Tschai und ein bisschen Hoffnung.
“Pass auf dich auf, Malaka”, sagt er zum Abschied, obwohl er das nötiger hat als ich. Am Ende des Tages werde ich in einer luxuriös ausgestatteten Fähre nach Athen sitzen, und er wird zurück in das 20-Quadratmeter-Appartment gehen, wo er mit vier Freunden auf dem Boden schläft, weil das besser ist als Moria. “Du auch, Malaka”, antworte ich. Aber eigentlich meine ich: “Wir sehen uns in Deutschland, Habibi.” Habibi, das erste Wort auf Arabisch, das man lernt, wenn man Teil der Familie wird.

Artikel von Jesko, er war im Herbst 2017 Volontär im OHF.

Publiziert im Blitz-Stadtmagazin: https://blitz-world.de/halle/hal-kol.htm

Mehr Blogeinträge von Jesko über Europa, Lesbos und das OHF unter http://blog.derjesko.de oder auf Facebook unter https://www.facebook.com/derjesko