How did you get involved in Action for Education?
I first came across AFE online in March 2018, when I was looking for an opportunity to volunteer in Greece during the summer holidays of that year. I immediately knew that I wanted to get involved with the organisation, applied and finally spent 6 weeks volunteering on Chios. If I hadn’t already signed a work contract before going to Greece, I definitely would have stayed. Working with such motivated people on this amazing project and experiencing the gratitude of the students convinced me about the necessity and value of our work. Since I couldn’t continue helping on site, I decided to do so from back home, by fundraising and since May 2019 as remote Volunteer Recruitment Officer.
You're doing volunteer recruitment. Why are you helping through this?
Taking over some of the volunteer recruitment work saves the busy coordinators in Greece a few hours each week which they can spend taking care of the refugees on site, organising local or fundraising events and dealing with whatever spontaneously comes up. I have seen their dedication, how much work they are doing, every day and until late in the evenings. Also, with unpredictable situations on the Islands and in Athens I can be remotely but readily available to potential volunteers and anyone interested in our project and have the time to answer their questions and go through their applications in detail. Thereby I can help finding new responsible volunteers that will do valuable work over in Greece.
Who's applying (what kind of people are applying) to volunteer with AFE?
Everyone and anyone. We have applicants from all continents, with many different mother tongues. Some of the applicants already have a lot of experience in working with refugee youths or women, others less. Despite the variety in applicant profiles and backgrounds they all share one thing: A strong desire to help those who need it the motivation to change the system a little bit, I guess.
What do you think makes a good volunteer?
Mainly three things: adaptability, empathy and openness. I would say anyone with a strong a dedication for the cause and the projects, motivation and willingness to work long hours and optimism to give each new day a chance will be a good volunteer.
What would say to people who are considering volunteering in Greece, but aren't sure...
Look at our volunteer reports and see what that does to you. Does it inspire you to do the same? Ask yourself what change you want to be in the world and if you think that you are up to fighting for the right to education with AFE. I believe that you can, otherwise you would not have been interested enough to read this text.
Many people talk see the future negatively: more wars, more forced migration, climate change and political austerity. Do you share this view?
The wrong approach is certainly to retreat into a shell and complain about how bad the world is or will be. There is something each and every one of us can do to balance out the bad that is happening every day. Both during my time as a volunteer on Chios and now, going through the applications of motivated people who want to volunteer with us, I have again and again realised that together something great can be achieved. There is a beautiful African saying on the Berlin Wall that I strongly agree with: ‘If many small people, in many small places, do many small things, they can alter the face of the world.