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Nickie and Jeppe – Home is where the other is

We have the worlds best coordinators and volunteers and we would like to present som of them.

Nickie Mariager-Lam is has just finished one period as the Drop in the Ocean coordinator on Chios and by her side she had her husband Jeppe Mariager-Lam. They are both great representatives from Denmark. 

We have followed each other from country to country and job to job in a kind of nomadic existence ever since we were high school sweethearts.  We have been married for five-and-a-half years. Home is where the other is. Chios is where we live today.

Professionally, we come from the Corporate Technology and Development sectors which in a way are two opposite extremes, one material/consumer oriented and the other all about empowerment and sustainability. Nevertheless, each one has elements that can complement the other in useful ways for humanitarian work.

One of the greatest challenges as a Drop coordinator is the management of the volunteers’ expectations, especially within an organisation that is growing from a grass roots movement into a fully fledged NGO. Many volunteers come to Souda for just a week or two, bringing with them wonderful ideas, masses of energy and often quite large donations of money. But at the same time, if this is their first experience of aid work and volunteering, they don’t perhaps always take into account that initiating and seeing through a project takes time.  In addition, we are not free to do whatever we choose.  We need the agreement of the local authorities who run Souda camp if we want to start something new, and there are many issues to be taken into consideration for any project to get off the ground.

One of the most satisfying aspects of our work is that it allows us to be close to, and get to know, the families and individual asylum seekers living in Souda. It is the place amongst the four locations where Drop is working in Greece, that has the highest number of volunteers asking to return.  The friendship and empathy we can share with people in the camp is special, both for us and, we hope, for them; not least because it helps asylum seekers who are waiting in very dificult and psychologically stressful situations, to feel less alone.

We should not under-estimate the power for good of simply listening to people’s concerns – even if there is very little we can do practically to help lift the frustrations that are weighing on them.  Being stuck on an island for months on end with very little to occupy your days and with your future at stake, is a desperate situation for anyone to be in.

What we gain by listening to their stories and learning from their experiences, can help to make us stronger advocates for people’s rights in the future.

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