Thinking about going to Chios volunteering for the Norwegian NGO “A Drop in the Ocean”? Stop thinking and start acting!
All the time I hear the phrase: “I have been thinking about volunteering for refugee work with Drop in Ocean on Chios (or one of the other places in Greece where we operate”. My answer is: “Stop thinking and start acting!”. Just thinking about it is not going to do any good for the refugees… Further, you are loosing the possibility of a most important experience that you will never forget or regret!
During my stay on Chios volunteering as the coordinator of the activities of the “Drops” on this Greek Island, I have never heard a single volunteer expressing that he or she regrets going to Chios. On the contrary, many keep coming back…
It is not uncommon that volunteers describe the stay on Chios as “a once-in a lifetime experience” or “a turning point”, and that the stay “changed them (in a positive way)” and “broadened their minds”.
So what do the volunteers do on Chios (as of late May 2016)…? After having breakfast, we go to the Souda Refugee Camp (in Chios Town). By the way, you will need a rental car (for your own or sharing with 1-2 fellow volunteers).
We start handing out breakfast to approximately 1000 people in the Souda camp at 8:30. The breakfast consists of bread (sandwich, croissant etc.) and a boiled egg or a fruit (orange, banana). We try to vary the breakfast a bit from day to day.
At 9:30 we start serving breakfast for approximately 500 people in the nearby Dipithe Refugee Camp. During and after the meal we socialise with the refugees and make note of any special needs (such as baby milk, diapers, hygienic products, strollers for babys, clothes, shoes etc.) and play with the children.
We buy the food for the breakfast at a baker’s in Karfas. Georgio brings all the food himself to the camps in his van. Georgio shows his support for the refugees (and our work) by giving Drop in the Ocean a large discount.
Serving breakfast in the two camps is the sole responsibility of the Drop in the Ocean volunteers. If we don’t show up with food each morning, most of these poor people will have nothing to eat for breakfast.
After serving breakfast the Drop in the Ocean volunteers assist as needed at the two street/soup kitchens on Chios Island, People’s Kitchen and Basque’s Kitchen, in preparing and serving lunch and dinner in the Souda and Dipithe camps. We also spend time in our warehouse (kindly provided by Kostas), collecting various items for the refugees and keeping it tidy and fully stocked.