For the last 2 and a half years, Massimilana Odorizzi has volunteered and coordinated with Action for Education across our projects in Chios, Samos and Athens. After such dedicated commitment over many months, this summer, Massi has taken a step in a new direction. Her, she reflects on her time with Action for Education.
I left Samos almost two months ago after two years and a half of working with Action For Education, first as a volunteer in Chios and Athens, then as a Project Manager in Samos.
It is still very difficult for me to put into words what I have felt in the last two years and the sense of displacement I feel being again in Italy. What you experience working with AFE - working closely with asylum seekers - is something strong, intense and inexplicable. The thing that amazed me the most and still amazes me today about all the people I met on my path - the volunteers, the colleagues, but above all our participants - is the incredible strength and resilience that these people demonstrate despite living every day in horrendous conditions.
I don't want to talk too much about episodes that show great actions or demonstrations, but I will tell a small story of what happened to me.
One afternoon in October last year, I was on the beach in the evening after a particularly bad day (it was some days after the first big fire on Samos). I was looking at the sea, which usually calms me. After a short while, two boys approached me, whom I recognized as two of our former volunteers. They sat next to me and they told me that everything would be fine, that life is beautiful and will be beautiful.
That "everything will be fine" has stayed with me. It came from two people who had everything to hope for yet nothing granted, and it gave me great strength that I still keep with me.
This is working with Action For Education is about. Through what many of us believe to be a path of giving is actually a path for our enrichment that becomes something existential for our lives. Action for Education and all the people I met on my path in Greece brought me smiles, anger, joy, sadness and strength. It brought me some despair, but the people I met showed me how hope and resilience, and the strength to fight, can never leave us.
I hope my path will put me back in front of such important acquaintances and I hope to return to Greece in a short time to give that bit of lightness and laughter that I am capable of.
Thanks for everything and see you soon.