We had a chat with Giulia Perazzini, a woman with several years of experience from the Greek refugee context. Working with both field work and management for A Drop in the Ocean, she has contributed to giving a voice to people attending the organisation’s activities.
Text: Eline Anker, Information Officer. Photo: A Drop in the Ocean.
When Giulia first heard about A Drop in the Ocean (DiH), her interest immediately fell on the organisation’s work in Skaramagas, the largest refugee camp on the Greek mainland.
“I was impressed by A Drop in the Ocean and that it was the only organisation providing psychosocial support activities in Skaramagas.”
Giulia applied for the position as a Site Coordinator and began in January 2019.
Previously, she worked for another organisation, welcoming people arriving by boat to the northern shore of Lesvos. Here she would only have brief meetings with beneficiaries before they left to another site and new people would arrive. Skaramagas on the other hand, is a camp where people stay for a long time waiting for their asylum applications to be processed.
“In Skaramagas, I really understood the impact and the importance of having routine operations and activities that support the well-being of people in the long run”, says Giulia and describes the camp as a village where the residents recognise you and greet you. Here, A Drop in the Ocean have been providing distributions, educational and recreational activities since 2016.
Giulia worked in a team with other field workers and speaks warmly of everything she has learned, especially from the resident volunteers. “Other team members of the organisation can really play an important role on how well you perform, how motivated you are and how much you want to improve, interact and be positive.”
From field work to decision-making
After eight months in Skaramagas, she started her position as project coordinator for Greece in November 2019. Working as a site coordinator, she got to know how things work on the ground, while as a project coordinator she could understand the management level, Giulia explains. “If you are in the field, you don’t understand to a full extent the factors that influence the decision-making processes. There are so many different things that influence what you do, not only the budget, but also the vision, future aims and so on…”
She talks about how much she appreciates the organisational structures with little bureaucracy.
“The overall atmosphere in Drop, is that everyone has a voice. Starting with the Secretary General moving down to the coordinators and the team leaders. We always have the opportunity and the right channels to express our opinion, to share what we think, and to make suggestions.”
Giving refugees a voice through monitoring and evaluation
As a project coordinator in Greece, she has developed a system for monitoring and evaluating activities for all locations. Through this work, people attending activities with DiH could speak their mind and give their feedback through questionnaires.
“The only thing that was missing was how to give a voice to the people we serve, the beneficiaries” she says, and continues “the questionnaires gives people the opportunity to say what they think – one thing is the perception of the effect that we have, the other thing is the actual effect reported by those who benefit from what we do.”
According to Giulia, beneficiaries report to enjoy and feel safe in the activities that DiH provides.
“A large percentage report that they use the activities to relief stress”, she says, while adding “We provide support and make their lives a little bit better!”
Continuing to help people forced to flee
At the end of May, Giulia ended her work with A Drop in the Ocean – for now.
After following the Greek context for the past three years, she feels in some way, that she is abandoning a battle:
“I’m kind of withdrawing from being one of the activists; people who try to make the situation better.”
However, that is not entirely true. Her work will still be to support people forced to flee, but in another part of the world: one of the world’s largest refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.