I worked for two months in the Refugee Community Center in Serres, Greece, for the NGO Lifting Hands International (LHI). The Community Center is located around 100 meters from the two refugee camps that are present in the city of Serres. These refugee camps host a population of around 800 people, and around 90% of them are Yazidis. The Yazidis are an ethnic and religious minority of Kurdistan, and, since 2014, they have been subjected to a genocide by ISIS, and they have been forced to flee their homes moving in refugee camps firstly in the north of Iraq and later trying to arrive in Europe. The remaining 10% of the population in the camps are from Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Eritrea, and Somalia.
The Community Center has been created by LHI in order to give a safe space for the residents of the camps and provide them psychosocial support through activities such as distributing food and hygiene items, informal education, professional development, and ludic, art, and sports activities.
I worked for 5 days a week from Wednesday to Sunday, and my week started with the team meeting on Wednesday in which the directors and the managers updated volunteers and interns about the activities and news of the week. Every afternoon from Wednesday to Sunday I worked at the Community Center from 4 to 8 p.m. I worked three days in CFS that is the Children Friendly Space in which we organized activities for children from 3 to 12 years old such as team games, sports, arts and crafts, dances, and other activities, and two days in Art&camp, a program created to provide a safe space for men and women in which they can participate to many activities and lessons such as sports, yoga, art classes, board games, and other activities.
During the mornings, I used to participate in the meetings organized by the managers of my programs to organize the activities of the Community Centers, do warehouse shifts in which we organized all the items and donations arriving at the warehouse every week, and do distribution of food and hygiene items to the camp residents.
Martina Boaretto, student at University of Padua