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  • Articles,, Lifestyle, Travel

    Volunteering this Summer Changed My Life


    by Zoe Zahariadis

    This summer I am volunteering in two different refugee camps in Lesvos, Greece. Kara Tepe, the first camp I volunteered at, is a camp for families only. It hosts over 1,000 people from primarily Afghanistan.

    My Experience at Kara Tepe

    Kara Tepe provides a community atmosphere for its residents, meaning that its staff and volunteers are comprised of both international volunteers, local staff and residents themselves. The homes are not described in terms such as “section” rather than “area” and the refugees are called “residents”. For the first two weeks, I volunteered with Movement on the Ground (MOTG), a nonprofit located in the camp, to put up shading between the 200 plus homes in the camp. Shading was extremely hard work because I was in the sun on the roof for hours a day, but I really learned a lot about the structure of an NGO (non-governmental organization) and the importance of working together as a community. I worked alongside residents from across the world and was able to communicate and work efficiently, through the awkward language barriers, through it all.

    After working with MOTG, I worked with SOS Villages teaching English to children ages 7-13. It was a really great experience to learn about working with children from a different culture that also speak a different language. 

    Some of the words we taught to children
    Crafts that the children made

    My Experience at the Moria Refugee Camp

    After working at Kara Tepe, I became a French translator for Kitrinos Healthcare, a medical NGO in Moria refugee camp. Moria is the most notorious camp on the island, equated to concentration camps and prison. Working in Moria is extremely heartbreaking. In the medical clinic, we see victims of war, torture, and just overall sickness. It is so hard to have to see people break down in front of you.

    Being a translator makes you a conduit for language and understanding because at times you are the only one who can listen. It’s such a difficult place to navigate as an unbiased listener. Sometimes you just want to buy their medicine yourself or take them back to a doctor back home, but you can’t. And with very limited options at the camp, the doctors do their best. There just comes a point when you can’t do much with the small supplies we have and it is really heartbreaking.

    This work has made me grow as a person to understand more complex issues on a deep, personal level. I am so beyond thankful to have had this opportunity to learn from the community in Moria and Kara Tepe. 

    You can change the world with as little time as a summer or with more time like a gap year. Check out how Alexandra took a year off and became an activist!

  • Articles, TRENDING

    How You Can Help Migrant Families

    How You Can Help Migrant Families

    If you’ve been following the news, then you probably know about the migrant crisis at the US/ Mexican border. If you don’t know about the crisis, this article will include a brief synopsis of the situation, and then explore different ways you can help. These ways include making donations to appropriate organizations, contacting your senator/ congressperson, and by joining Birmingham’s protest on June 30 at 4:00 PM at Kelly Ingram Park.


    Migrant families are being separated upon entering the US. According to The Independent and as of June 15, 2018, almost 2,000 children have been separated from their families since the Trump administration instituted its “zero tolerance” policy. The “zero tolerance” policy refers to the Trump administration’s efforts to, “seek criminal prosecution of every person caught trying to enter the US illegally … which the government hopes will act as a deterrent [to future migrants]” (Buncombe.) We know that the detention centers keeping these children have already been accused of child abuse, including forcibly injecting them with drugs (Smith & Bogada.)

    Then, on June 20, 2018, Trump signed an executive order aimed at ending family separations by detaining families together (CBS NEWS.)

    Trump’s executive order doesn’t even come close to fixing things and according to The Washington Post, Senator Elizabeth Warren visited a detention center and reported that no children are being reunited with their families.

    These families need your help. So how can you help them? Well, one way would be by donating money to organizations aimed at helping the cause. Be sure to read up on each organization and see how it uses it money. Always research an organization before you donate to make sure your money will be well used.


    ActBlue Charities:

    The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services:


    Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project:

    We Belong Together:

    Human Rights First:

    Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights:

    Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center:

    Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee:

    The Florence Project:

    Kids In Need of Defense (KIND):

    Women’s Refugee Mission:


    Another way you can help is by calling your senator/ congressperson, which the ACLU has a perfect resource for:

    You simply put in your phone number, email address, and zip code, and your call will be routed to a government representative near you. Once connected, introduce yourself and say,

    “Hi, my name is [YOUR NAME] and my zip code is [YOUR ZIP]. I’m urging the Senator to denounce Trump’s family separation policy and use all of Congress’ authority to stop it.”

    Contacting your senator/ congressperson is a good way to help if you can’t afford to donate any money.


    The Families Belong Together organization will be hosting nationwide protests. Birmingham hosted one in Kelly Ingram Park at 4:00 PM on June 30, 2018. If you want a more concrete way of showing your dissatisfaction, then show up to the protest to make your voice heard. Read more about the protest here:

    Additionally, peaceful protesting is another good way to make your views known if you are unable to donate any money personally.