Summer Solidarity Shots – Annika Peterson – 2 Months Volunteering in Greece
Name of the project: Summer Solidarity Shots
City/Country: Thessaloniki, Greece
2 month group volunteering project in Thessaloniki, Greece
After more than one year of COVID-19 pandemic, I felt that I really need a change of environment and do something different. Even though everything was still very uncertain because of the pandemic, I started looking for opportunities to go abroad. I figured it doesn´t really matter if I´m being in Estonia during these uncertain times or somewhere else in Europe. No one can predict what is going to happen anyways.
One day I heard from a friend that there is a project happening in Greece this summer and they are looking for a participant from Estonia. I searched for some information online about Greece and the current situation there and saw that they will start opening the country for tourists soon. The project seemed very interesting and went together with my professioon as a social worker so I thought why not. It seemed like a too good opportunity to pass.
I arrived to Greece in the beginning of June. I started living in a big house with 25 other volunteers and in a shared bedroom. At first it was a bit weird, coming from minimised contacts and mostly working from home because of the pandemic to living in a such big house with many people but I started to like it more and more.
My project was mainly working with former drug addicts that were in a program with the local organisation. We did different activities together with them. One of the activities we did was working in a soon to be opened second hand shop, where we organised clothes, dishes, put prices on them, cleaned, etc. We also had different physical activities outside, like weeding, collecting vegetables from the local field that they had. Fruits and vegetables from that field were collected, packaged and then sold.
Once a week I was also volunteering in Fix In Art organisation. There I mainly took care of their garden, where I did some weeding, planted some plants, etc. I also helped them organise and clean their different storage rooms and common spaces. I heard about different projects and actitvities they have done and their space was incredible. The organisation is placed in an old beer factory, where they now have many rooms to accommodate volunteers and also various rooms for different activities. Once I also went with them to the market, where they go weekly. They go there before the market starts slowly closing and the sellers can donate their food that is left from the day and would otherwise be thrown away. The food will then be given to people who really need it.
Although my project was short term and only lasted for 2 months, I feel like I did quite a lot. From the work side what I will remember the most are the stories from the people, who were in the program to stay clean from drugs. It was very inspiring to hear their stories about how they got addicted, how they then got free from the drugs and how much their life has changed to the better now. They were all so friendly and open with us from the start and it was inspiring to see how well they are doing now and how positive they are.
Aside from work, I will remember the people I met and the travels we made together. During this short time I met many incredible people and I´m very grateful for that. My experience wouldn´t have been the same without them.
This Project was financed by European Commission’s European Solidarity Corps Programme