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volunteering

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Lifestyle, Travel

    Volunteering this Summer Changed My Life

    volunteering

    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!

  • Misc

    Being Ready to Vote

    Being Ready to Vote

    Do you vote on class president? Do you vote for homecoming court? How is your prom queen or king chosen? Do you get a vote during class for certain activities? You’ve probably been voting since a young age, and you just never thought about what that truly means. It means you have a voice. You get to decide somewhat of what the outcome of something is. It may be a collective vote where your choice didn’t win, but at least you got the option to vote in favor or against something.

    When I was in high school I never imagined myself voting, whether that meant for state elections or for presidency. I never cared much about politics or what that meant for me. Somehow, I found myself in a situation where my vote would have counted had I chosen to give my input on something. My friends wanted to decide what we were doing for the evening, and they all took a vote. There were seven of us, but I chose not to say anything, because I didn’t want to come off too picky. The vote totaled out with three wanting to go ice skating, and four wanting to go to the movies. I really wanted to go ice skating, and had I voted we would have had to come to some other option.

    It may seem silly that I’m relating my vote for what to do on a Saturday night versus voting for a president, but it does make sense. It was something that I wanted to do and chose not to do anything about. There are probably times where you critique the president in power or say something negative about a local judge or governor. You have the power to do something about it. It all starts now, when you’re young and are not quite old enough to vote. You should be doing research on the candidates, look into how there run in office may shape your future.

    If you think about it, the older generation in power get to say what the younger generation can and should do. We can make a difference in how our future is shaped by voting when we are old enough, or by being aware of our surroundings while we’re still young. You could probably check with local candidates and try to join their campaign teams. You might not be old enough to vote yet, but that does not mean you can’t know the candidates well enough to voice your opinion to those who can vote.

    Here are some links to check out regarding voting and campaigns:

    • If you are 18 or older and live in Alabama, you can register to vote at this site: https://sos.alabama.gov/alabama-votes/voter/register-to-vote
    • If you are 18 years or older and live in a different state than Alabama, go to google and type in: register to vote in [your state].
    • Alabama political parties: https://ballotpedia.org/Political_parties_in_Alabama
    • If you want to volunteer for someone’s campaign: look up their information on google, search their website for volunteer opportunities. If there are no volunteer options on the site, then call the number they have listed at the bottom of their web page.