Interns voices-Andrew

Welcome to “Interns Voices” A Drop in the Ocean Project.
Join us on a special journey where compassion knows no bounds. “Interns’ Voices” by A Drop in the Ocean gives you a glimpse into the experiences of our dedicated interns and the impact of Drops.

My name is Andrew, I’m 25 years old and I’m from Wellington, New Zealand. From July to October this year I was the Humanitarian Aid Intern with Drapen i Havet in Lesvos, Greece.

I found out about Drop on the jobs section of ReliefWeb’s website. That’s where I saw the opportunity to volunteer with Drop in the Ušivak camp near Sarajevo, which I did earlier this year. I was then told about internship opportunities elsewhere within the organisation and applied for the position in Lesvos.

I chose to work with Drop because I was attracted to the professional values and working culture of the organisation. Also, as someone who wants to begin a career in international aid and development, I felt that working with a smaller-scale INGO like Drop would enable me to experience lots of different parts of what goes on within an organisation, giving me invaluable and diverse experience in the field.

My first experience volunteering with Drop came in Bosnia earlier this year, from mid-May through to the closure of the operation at the end of June. Drop ran several different programs in the camp, including a multi-media classroom, a free shop for clothes and hygiene items, and a ‘Drop Club’ social space. As my first time working in a camp environment, I learned a lot from assisting with Drop’s activities and getting exposure to different aspects of the camp. Having enjoyed my time working with Drop in Sarajevo, I decided to look at further opportunities and was excited to hear I had been accepted as the humanitarian aid intern in Lesvos.

The internship was a fantastic opportunity for me both professionally and personally. I learned so much from the experience of being on the ground in Lesvos and assisting with Drop’s laundry project in the Kara Tepe camp. I was given the chance to express myself, explore parts of the project I was interested in and passionate about, and received amazing support and encouragement from the whole team. I really enjoyed the variety and scope of my role- I got the chance to experience every aspect of the laundry project, from collecting and distributing laundry in the camp, to the operation of the washing and drying machines in the laundry station, engaging with other actors in the camp, and updating online datasheets for the project. The variety of my role meant I was always engaged and I learned something new every day.

I found working in the camp to be challenging: the weather in July and August was extremely hot, the population in the camp doubled in little more than a fortnight, and it seemed like every day we would face some new problem or change in the camp environment.  Despite this, it was very rewarding to see the project adapt and evolve with the changing conditions and continue to run successfully despite everything happening around us. The dynamic situation also allowed for lots of opportunities to find better ways to do things and think critically about how we could best serve the individuals in the camp.

I’m especially grateful to the Project Coordinator who invested a lot of time in designing the structure of my internship, and created an environment where I was comfortable asking questions and pitching ideas for the project. There was a clear progression with my role where I was introduced to new tasks and challenges as I gained experience and grew in confidence, and I think this brought out the best in me in tough situations.

My favourite part of my role was engaging with the awesome team of community volunteers. I loved that the project’s structure included community volunteers throughout, and it was very fulfilling to see them grow and take on roles within the day-to-day operation. The boundless positivity and enthusiasm of our volunteers was inspiring and will be a lasting memory for me of my time in Lesvos.

Overall, I’m very happy I took the opportunity to intern with Drop in Lesvos- I gained so much from the experience and I hope I will have another chance to work with Drop sometime in the future.