I spent just over two weeks volunteering in Athens, Greece. I decided to help in the Victoria Social Centre. I can only describe it as an amazing place that fulfils so many needs for the local community, particularly refugees. It functions as a school, information centre, kitchen, social space, gym and much more. The staff who work there are such welcoming people and they do their best for every person who comes to the centre in need of help. They have great relationships with the families and individuals who visit the centre. For many people, a trip to the centre is often a positive reliable focal point within their lives.
During my time at the Victoria centre I volunteered as an English teacher. I taught both adult English classes and children’s classes. I would say my best moment was when a girl in my class, who did not know how to write her name in English, told me that she wanted me to teach her. So, we sat down together for a few minutes and slowly wrote and her name. After she practised on her own for a while, I suddenly get a tap on my shoulder, while working through a problem with another student. I turn around and see this little girl jumping up and down smiling and yelling, 'look, look teacher, my name!’ This helped affirmed for me why I wanted to be a teacher and showed me that having the opportunity to learn means so much to children and it should never be taken for granted.
I wish people back home in the UK could see the increasing needs and difficulties that the refugees in Greece are facing every day. This is a human issue. We all have a human responsibility to help any way we can. You don’t need to have a specialist job such as a doctor or teacher to be of help. There are so many people whose skills would be highly valued as volunteers. Everyone is so grateful for any help you can give. There is no monetary incentive, but the feelings and expressions of gratitude, far surpass any amount of money. If the shoe was on the other foot, we would all like to think someone would extend us human decency and lend us a hand. The people who seek refuge across Greece and many other countries are no less than you, so they deserve no less than you.