Jessica Jolley - volunteering at Refugee Camp in Greece

Past student and College Captain 2011 Jessica Jolley, is currently volunteering on the other side of the globe. Her story is an inspiring one, and we are humbled by her passion. We asked Jess for her current story and here it is:

I'm currently volunteering with a Greek NGO called Earth Refugee, and I have been in Sounio, 2 hours from Athens, for 5 weeks now. Sounio is an old summer camp owned by the Greek Ministry of Agriculture and is the only centre in Greece that satisfies basic humanitarian standards. Sounio is not an emergency situation- but instead we are working towards creating a safe, secure and prosperous environment in the camp, whilst the residents await their registration interview for asylum in Greece and eventual relocation to another European Union country. There is no 'typical' day at camp, but I'll try to explain what we may do. For the first four weeks I was volunteering at Suonio, we had school run by volunteers for 3 hours every morning. I taught the English class for students 8 years and older for an hour and a half and we also had sports and arts and crafts lesson. As of last week, the children have been enrolled and are attending Greek school in the nearest town Lavrio every afternoon for four hours so our schedules have changed a little bit- but now we provide entertainment and basic English lessons to 4 and 5 year olds who are too young to attend school. Our afternoons were filled with other tasks and social events, that would sometimes include cleaning communal spaces with the community, painting buildings in preparation for a women's space, distributing hygiene products, taking the children for swimming lessons at the local beach or helping to waterproof the cabins for families (because winter is coming). As volunteers we also provide children's cinema nights twice a week, women's exercise classes in a safe space so the women feel comfortable enough to remove their hijabs and most importantly the weekly chai party where we are invited to socialise and dance dabke with the residents.

I have had such an incredible time here and considering I had only planned to stay for two weeks- my love for this place and these people has made me extend time and time again.

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others" - Mahatma Gandhi

Jessica Jolley

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