A life changing experience – Interview with Arlette, a volunteer fieldworker

In 2018 Arlette Augustin worked as a volunteer fieldworker in Nea Kavala in Northern-Greece.

Why and when did you sign up as a volunteer and how did you first get to know about A Drop in the Ocean?

In summer 2017 I was invited to go sailing in Turkey. We ended up sailing around Lesbos and I saw remains of human traffic in the sea and along the shorelines: flip flops, life jackets, clothing. Found it disturbing and unsettling that I was on a pleasure vacation while in the same waters several people were in dire circumstances risking their lives. I promised myself to return to Greece to volunteer. I researched organizations helping refugees and there were so many! Selected DiO because of minimum 10 day volunteer period. I filled the application in May 2018 and volunteered in August 2018.

Where did you volunteer and how was your experience as a volunteer? 

I volunteered at Nea Kavala in Northern Greece, an hour north of Thessaloniki. I was pleasantly surprised that operationally the camp had structure, was clean and resident life was relatively stable. Volunteer work was community service based providing laundry, bike rental, sports, distribution of clothing & vegetables. I also taught English in the women’s space. This was extra special experience because I was able to have closer contact with women and hear their stories. Most of them were extremely eager to learn, smart and had a great sense of humour. I laughed a lot with them!

How or in what way have the time as a volunteer changed or affected you?

It was an inspiring, a life changing experience. I learnt so much from the residents, volunteers and coordinators. The experience made me think a lot about how much freedom I have in my life. Freedom to choose and to pursue my best life. It continues to inspire me to make new choices to live my life with purpose and intent.

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