MARCH 6, 2019
Dalia shares her reasons for going and what the organization she will be volunteering for offers. Support her with a hug, support her with a donation, support her in your energy and thoughts.
“I need to do this to feel whole. This is who I am. This is a part of me. I am heading off to a refugee camp in Northern Greece (near the Macedonia border) where several refugees from various parts of the world are living while Europe decides what to do with them. Europe has put up borders around varying countries making movement debilitating. Many refugees have applied for asylum status and though one might think that this would be a relatively quick process, for many it’s not. The specific refugee camp that I will be going to (Nea Kevala) is an ‘official’ camp set up by the UN. The tents have been transformed to shipping containers and the UNHRC & Doctors without Borders come and visit. There are many other camps all over the world that are not ‘official’ and people are stuck there. I was truly shocked when I saw a documentary recently “The Human Flow” that gave the stat that the average time spent in a refugee camp is 26 years. That is a whole generation!!
I have always volunteered since I was in high school – whether it be in senior’s homes, autism centers, animal shelters, refugee camps etc. The previous refugee camp I volunteered at was not an official one but has been around since the 1940’s. It was one of many camps in one country (which I will intentionally leave nameless) that’s home to nearly half a million people. Poverty is widespread and legal protections are limited. Inhabitants of these camps are not even allowed regulars jobs outside the camp or to own property. The camp becomes a mini city or a slum. People are born refugees – with no legal documents and cannot leave the camp, to which they become a prisoner.
I have always felt that I have had a blessed life – safe country to live in, home, shelter, family, food, education, freedom, choices in life. Many of us take these for granted but I have learned with my travels that these are luxuries. The majority of people yearn for this. And this is all because of where they were born – how unfair is that!! Immigration was much easier when my family immigrated to Canada (looong time ago) but now it’s a very difficult process and requires a lot of finances that most people don’t have. These refugees leave a war torn country hoping for a better life and end up remaining in a refugee camp for years and years. They become totally reliant on the kindness and support of strangers.
My travels have made me realize that I am a citizen of the world – not just Canada. And as a citizen of the world, it’s my responsibility to help where I can. Do I wish I could do more? Aboslutely! Is this maybe a selfish act? Sometimes I think yes because I feel beyond happy to help others, to put a smile on a child’s face, to help women feel some sort of stress relief through yoga or sound healing; to help older men learn an English word. So that is what I will be doing when I am there – teaching trauma yoga, teaching English to the adults, playing with the kids, physically helping to construct building structures.
As of January 2018, the Greek government has allowed refugee children to attend public school and this is truly amazing. Many refugee camps do not offer that. The children in Greece can have hope for a better life.
After looking and talking to several grass roots organisations, I decided to volunteer for a grass roots organisation called ‘We Are Here Centre’. It was started by 3 young volunteers when they realized that refugee camps provide shelter, food and medicine but do not provide a sense of purpose to the occupants. ‘We Are Here’ creates an opportunity to learn, create, socialize, share, and connect through a community centre that offers a library, educational classes for adults, women’s space, child friendly space, music lessons, recreational activities and much more. This is just one of the several grass roots there that operate together.
I can honestly go on & on about the amazing work the volunteers there have done. Some have spent over 2 years volunteering their time. I wish one day to be able to do the same, but for now, my one-month will do. Being at Yoga Santosha for close to a year now I have realised what an amazing community and family atmosphere Santosha has. I am very grateful to be part of the community and I am reaching out to you to see if you are able to support me in my quest to help others. I have started a gofundme page https://ca.gofundme.com/volunteer-trip-nea-kevala-refugee-camp-greece to help cover my costs (which are fully my responsibility – flights, accommodation, meals) as well as to donate to these amazing grassroots organisations. Any donation is truly appreciated. Every dollar adds up and helps tremendously. Please also send your love and healing. Together we can all heal.” ~ Dalia Taher