In between activities or during breaks you will probably find 23 year old Morteza outside the centre on one of our benches alongside Moria Village’s own 5th avenue. A cup of green tea in one hand and petting one of the many dogs with the other. He came across our centre a cold winter night in February 2019 when his usual go-to place was closed. A volunteer from another organisation mentioned there was a café open in Moria Village, so Morteza walked the 10-15 minutes to the Village to check the place out. After being pointed in the right direction, he arrived at the warm center and enjoyed a hot drink. Below, you can read more about how Morteza, one of the residents in Moria Refugee Camp, became a volunteer at the Drop Centre, and his experience with volunteering for A Drop in the Ocean the past eight months.
By: Glenn Andre Richard, previous Operation and Development Coordinator, now Lesvos Coordinator / Translated by: Bo Solesvik Oppedal
“It just happened, boom I became a volunteer….”
Now, eight months and many cups of tea later he is our third longest serving volunteer on Lesvos. Only the coordinators Angelika and Christos (in the picture above) have been here longer – over a year. He has climbed the ranks, and is now one of our two team leaders at the Drop Centre. This means he is responsible for the day to day operation of the centre and training volunteers. When asked about how he ended up as a volunteer, he doesn’t remember:
– It just happened, boom, I was a volunteer… I wanted to be a volunteer because I had nothing to do, and this was an opportunity to learn something, develop my skills and my english, help people and make friends.
“I used to think about volunteering as a way to spend my time, now it’s my life.” – Morteza
Drop Centre and Moria Village
Morteza didn’t know the village before he started volunteering “because I had only been here during night time, I didn’t have an impression of the place until my first visit in February 2019”. He especially enjoys the people from the village: “they are so nice, like the owner of the family bakery, and Maria, the owner of the shop are always trying to teach me a new greek word. The locals passing by all know me, asking “where’s your tea”, it’s nice”.
When Morteza is asked why he chose to become a volunteer for A Drop in the Ocean he answers: “I wanted to learn english, interact with people and gain more experience”. He initially expected to work at the café, but was assigned to work as an interpreter in the children’s classes. He loves playing with the children: “they don’t think too much, they just want to spend time and enjoy themselves. it’s easier to handle” he laughs.
Personal development and the future
When asked about how volunteering has affected him and how he has changed during the last 8 months Morteza answers:
– I’m more patient now, and more quiet- I was always talking a lot before [laughs], all the time. Now I don’t talk too much, I don’t have the same need to talk all the time like I used to.
When asked the same question, Christos, a coordinator on Lesvos who has worked with Morteza during the last 8 months, answers: – “In the beginning he was quite shy around the team, but now he takes everyone under his wings. He takes more responsibility and initiative, and makes decisions without asking me all the time, which is nice [smiles]. He also has an overview of all the activities as he has been working with us for some time now, and has really developed his analytical skills. He has also made huge progress in communication, talks less, more to the point and he is the best listener around. He can help, coordinate and interact with many volunteers and beneficiaries at the same time. Words can’t describe him, he is just an amazing person, colleague and friend”.
To potential future volunteers he has one comment:
– If you like to volunteer and help people it’s not important what skills you have- if you are doing the job you are assigned to the best of your ability, then you are helping people”. For more information about how to sign up as a fieldworker click here.
Morteza is still waiting for his interview, and when he’s asked about the future he answers: “Right now my future is a big question mark, so I take one day at a time, I don’t know what’s going to happen”.