Volunteering in the Welcommon Hostel with Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal for Social and Green Innovation
– Volunteer from October 2020 to March 2021
My name is Inès Doumandji. I am a 22years old French girl, and I studied Psychology. After the end of my bachelor, I decided to take a year off studies to focus on what I really want to do after my Master: working with refugees.
Since I cannot work as a psychologist for refugees yet, I still decided to start this crazy adventure in the social environment by volunteering in Greece with refugees. I found Anemos Ananeosis and the Welcommon Hostel on the website Workaway and I thought that it was the perfect opportunity for me to participate in a European Solidarity Corps project: I get to live for free in the hostel with the migrants in exchange of sharing what I can with them and learning so much from them participating in the European Solidarity Corps “Green Social Innovation for young persons” implemented by Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal.
I started volunteering in the project in the very beginning of October 2020 and I stopped in March 2021. Those 6 months felt like 2. I did not plan on staying that long there, but I got caught by the beauty of the place. Anemos Ananeosis and the Welcommon Hostel have beautiful projects about social and environmental impact that follow my principles and made me feel like I have my place here.
At the beginning I started exclusively teaching German and English to refugees not living in the hostel, and just visiting for the classes. But when Covid-19 hit harder, the restrictions became stricter and we could not welcome people from outside of the hostel anymore, so we decided to teach to the residents.
After a while, different activities were added to the German and English classes. Because of lockdown, the need that we, as volunteers had, and that the residents (almost all refugees) had to take part of more different activities inside of the hostel grew. That is when we created the sport classes, and the various activities like IT class, activities with children (games in English mostly), and games with adults! Our schedule became quite busy but also more diverse and it was very interesting.
After a while, we also decided to take part of the work that needs to be done at the reception as all the residents were more or less homeless refugees. We were all together doing different things for the empowerment of the hosted families and their social inclusion based on a very innovative methods!
The volunteers participating in A2 activities, organized a lot of different projects, a week about environment where we talked about recycling, consuming reasonably, taking care of our planet.
A beauty activity that women could join, where Syrian, Kurdish, Cameroons, Afghan, French, German, Italian and Belgian women joined together to have some self-care time which was also a lot of fun.
We also created some games in the hostel with pictures, where two teams were fighting to find where the pictures were taken in the hostel… that was all a lot of fun.
But this is not all. The things that I will mostly remember about these 6 months is the love that children gave me, all the drawings that I will bring back to France in my suitcase, the weird ways of communicating that we end up developing to be able to understand each other, the delicious meals from all around the world that people cooked and invited me to try, all the laughter, all the time google translation saved or failed us etc…
I would recommend this experience to anyone, I arrived this hostel way younger in my mind than I will leave it, that is for sure !