“A part of my heart will stay here with the people…”

What an energetic person Emma is! We were lucky enough to have her in our team as a longterm volunteer, totally motivated to keep on sharing OHFs spirit as well after she was leaving and already organized a Christmas market stand to raise funds for OHF by selling the amazing postcards made at the art table by one of our regular visitors.

Emma wasn’t only responsible for our daily art table but also for our lovely cat Steve. She amazingly introduced the “waste saviour” with being part of our cleaning working group, a.k.a. installing our recycling bins and system. Also, daily shuttles were often done by Emma and her daily helpers English class went so well with so many students each day, teaching for example how to do a CV – another of her tasks to support our helpers. But of course, you could find Emma as well doing many, many other daily tasks.

Read more about Emma’s volunteering experience:

This is my most memorable moment:

I will always remember this breakfast one day, where the kitchen team prepared homemade falafel wrap for all the helpers and volunteers. The general euphoria, the music, the smiles. So much commitment from this kitchen that, at the same time as providing a thousand of meals for the visitors every day, manage to surprise their colleagues with edible love.

This struck me the most:

What struck the most is, I think, all the knowledge shared between the visitors, helpers and volunteers. All those random (or organized) languages lessons like the times when I talked with an 8 years old girl who is speaking better English than I do. But also, when, even though we don’t speak the same language, this man taught me pottery. And this whole team of football players from all around the globe which includes me and taught me how to play from 0. It’s so divers and everything goes so naturally.

One Happy Family is…

One Happy Family is this place that just bring back as much happiness and humanity as possible to our everyday interaction wherever you are from. Everything is organised and thought for the better, as much for the visitor as for the volunteer. So many stimulating activities for free, so many basic needs are provided here every day in the most inclusive way. It’s all about working with them instead of for them.

This is what I would like to tell other people:

I think it’s a very important involvement that everybody should experience once in his life. In the big picture you’ll be part of a project that brings a lot to people in the necessity, you will bring a lot to this project. Even though you don’t feel it, people will remind it to you. It’s about them and this should be the first motivating purpose, but it will also bring a lot to you. I felt empowered to be active in this cause, I learnt a lot and I’ve reconnected myself to the essential. The motivation I have now is limitless, and I think it does that to a lot of people. Once you started to get involved, your wish to be helpful never really ends, this feeling stays and it’s good. For everybody. The old one and the young one. The bilingual one and the «not so comfortable with English» one. The one with «disabilities» and the one that does not feel so self-confident. Everybody is needed and everybody is able to do this.

My tasks in One Happy Family are…

I have started with the basic daily tasks that One Happy Family offers us to do, my favourite ones are the bank(distribution of the daily drachma, the One Happy Family currency to access certain services) and the cafe. But I also really enjoy the diverse lunch tasks to facilitate the distribution of thousands of meals, the playground, the art table and the cybercafe, without forgetting the special training to do the barbershop registration.

I offer my services to teach English to the helpers at the end of the day.

Quite fast after that I had my formation to be part of driver team and do the daily shuttle between Moria and Mytilini.

I also participate in a group of green cleaning that take care about reducing waste and recycling.

I have become the art table responsible, it’s mostly about organizing the supplies needed at the art table, but not only, we created with another volunteer, Martina, a collection of post card out of the drawing made at the art table by our dear visitors to organize fundraising when we go back home.

I also took part of the CV and Work Certificate team, that make official papers for the helpers before they leave the Island, it’s such an interesting task that leads me to know better my co-workers but also having some fun with them besides our daily tasks.

To sum up all of that, I’ve participated in all the daily tasks, taught English, drove, made CVs and Certificates, took care of some Art Projects, did some French translations, rose awareness about recycling and for a short period took care of Steve the cat of One Happy Family.

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

I don’t know really another similar organization, I never saw such a place before. Instead of working for them we work alongside, together for the better, it’s such a more human way to approach this crisis. We see some of them getting so empowered and so committed to their job, it’s a place where they can escape from the terrible condition of the camp. That allows also to be closer to them always in a respectful way but again a warmer and more human like conduct.

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

I have extended my stay here, and I already think about coming back like a lot of the volunteers that came here before. There is a lot to do and a lot of volunteers needed for this period of the year, as the situation is getting worse and worse in the camp, One Happy Family needs more and more of the positive attitude. I can’t solve the crisis but I wanted and still want to give 100% of myself to help. It’s also a deeper experience when you can stay for a longer time, you can get involve in more projects and see the finality of some of them. It’s also a good thing for the visitors that are used to see new people all the time, that gives them a certain stability to see faces that they recognize weeks after weeks, months after months.

And Emma adds…

Thanks to One Happy Family, to let me be part of this project, it raised so much awareness in me, about the crisis, the people but also myself. I am so glad to have been able to put my energy there and it gave back so much to me. A part of my heart will stay here with the people, I wish for the best.

Chamame, falafel and cup song.

Yours always