Hey, I’m Joe. My name is Jeroen, but most people call me Joe because that’s easier. I’m 29 years old, and I’m from the Netherlands.
One of the reasons why I am here as a volunteer is because I want to help people, and I was looking for a way to use my skills for another reason than working for a big company. So, one day I searched the Internet for organizations where I could work, and I found Drops. What dragged me to Drops is that it is one of the few organizations which still works inside the camps; so that was for me a big reason to work with Drops because I wanted to also experience how life in the camp is instead of working on an area next to a refugee camp.
I’m currently in Nea Kavala camp, which is in the north of Greece. I’ve been working here for a month and a half now, and I have two weeks left. I’ve been mostly working in the educational activities and in the logistical part of the organization. The educational activities are only for adults, and it varies from the starter levels, which are people who actually don’t speak English at all, to people who are very fluent in English and almost speak better than I do. All the activities bring different challenges and have different ways of approaching them. During my work, I receive much appreciation when teaching people. Also, teaching people who don’t speak English at all is a very nice experience because you see them grow. You see the development in their English skills. People learn very fast, so when you start teaching them, they speak nothing, and then every time they see you, they say, “Hey, how are you”, and they try to speak with you. And that’s really nice to see that they are very confident in speaking English in a way and getting better every time they are in the class. And also, with higher-level English, it gets challenging because every time you are in the class, you get challenged by different discussions or things you’re talking about. As for the logistical part, I’m mostly doing clothing and hygiene in the Drop Shop. So, people come to the shop with almost nothing and are very happy with what they get from it and the way you can help them. They are always nice, and they are so happy with the bare minimum you can give them. And they show that they like just to have a little conversation with you while they see what’s in the shop. And you are there to help them when looking for clothes or shampoos, and they’re so happy with what you can give them because they really need them.
Both of the projects I am involved in have beautiful sides. Teaching gives me butterflies to see people grow by learning. To get more confident speaking a different language, try it out with other residents and volunteers. Seeing them laugh and use what they learn is wonderful and also makes me smile. When I work in logistics, I feel really privileged.
On the one hand, I feel privileged to help people get clothing or hygiene items. People who don’t have anything and can get their basics with us. Seeing them smile after leaving the shop gives me this overwhelmingly good feeling. It also makes me feel privileged that I never had to think if and when I could get these basic items for a ‘normal’ life.
So, the whole volunteering experience is an experience that gives you a lot. Although you’re spending time here, it gives you more than just a nice experience. It gives you friendships, and real gratification for what you are doing, and you can see people really being happy about what you’re doing for them, which is nice.
My goal is to make life a little better for a person. We can do that here. A drop at a time!