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A year of humanitarian experiences in Greece

“For me being a coordinator is about inspiring others to do good and have fun at the same time. It is spreading the message that the most important mission we have is to give love and hope to those who need it the most.” – Cláudia Sabença, former project and logistic coordinator for A Drop in the Ocean.

By: Maria Sagen Vodentsis and Vibeke Hoem Photo: Claudia Sabença

Cláudia Sabença is 27 years old and she has been working with A Drop in the Ocean for almost a year in two different locations, Nea Kavala and Lesvos. Claudia talks about her experience as a great school for learning more about international humanitarian work. Read more about what she did as Logistic Coordinator in Nea Kavala and how working outside of a camp setting in Lesvos had a different meaning because nothing was related to distribution or services.

How can you summarize your experiences from the past year of humanitarian work in Greece? 

– Whenever I talk about this year I tell everyone that it was a great school for me. I already had experience in the humanitarian field but with A Drop in the Ocean I matured as a professional, learned immensely and developed my skills. Working with so many people, from so many different countries and backgrounds, made me discover a new pleasure to explore and grow as a person.

What did you do as Logistic Coordinator in Nea Kavala?

– Nea Kavala was the beginning of my journey with A Drop in the Ocean. Although I had previous experience in the humanitarian field, I couldn’t have predicted the amount of knowledge I would receive. I discovered a new world. I was the Logistic Coordinator and I had the privilege to learn something that for me is one of the most amazing humanitarian tools – the Drop App – from one of its creators. I learned so much in Nea Kavala, on so many levels. I spent over 7 months there and I met hundreds of people. I grew so much as a professional and as a person, it’s unbelievable. I knew who I was as a leader before but there I developed it and I discovered exactly what I needed to improve. It was a massive challenge in so many ways but it was one of the most incredible rides of my life. I wouldn’t change anything because everything brought me where I am now. Nea Kavala marked the beginning of a new era in my life, the era I discovered I could never leave the humanitarian field.

What did you learn as Project Coordinator on Lesvos, what was different there?

– Lesvos was a very interesting journey because I was completely out of my comfort zone. It was the first time I worked outside of a camp and it took a while for me to accept it. When I did, I decided to put my blood, sweat and tears into that operation and suddenly I was in love with everything. I was in love with the Drop Center – one of the coolest places on earth – Moria village, Mytilini, the community, my drop family… My heart was fully there. Doing projects on Lesvos had a different meaning because nothing was related to distribution or services. We provide a safe place, full of love and respect. We offer education, activities, a social place, and handcrafts, but more than anything, we offer humanity. We have tea and coffee with people, we play, we laugh so much, we chat and we connect. It’s all about human connection. It was so special. I never felt so proud to work anywhere because it was also my home and everyone was happy there. The villagers were a huge part of my experience as well. Everyone was so nice and warm, at some point I felt like a member of their community and that’s a huge compliment. It was a true privilege to be able to develop in Lesvos and to help build something so beautiful in such a horrible situation.

How do you think A Drop in the Ocean has developed in the year you have been with us?

I feel like A Drop in the Ocean is growing a lot, is spending time improving many important structures, responding to feedback and taking the right steps to became a more mature and bigger organization. I’m very excited to see what comes next! Once a drop, always a drop.

We are in a immediatly need for volunteers and coordinators. Sign up as a volunteer here and read more about assignments as a Coordinator here

Volunteering in refugee camps can be a life changing experience. Our team in Nea Kavala give you some ideas of what it is like:

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