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.