Tag Archives: volunteering in Samos


             Today was another day at the warehouse. The biggest victory of the day was finding three huge bags of men’s winter hats. Men’s shoes, gloves, hats, and winter gear are probably the items that we lack the most. This is due to the fact that there are more men immigrating. It is not that they are trying to come to western nations to take advantage of what we have. Rather, there are more men because their families can in general either only afford to send one person and/or because they know the perils of the trip and hope their son/father can make enough money so that they can fly the rest of their family. During the trip many die along the way, the number is unknown how many lives are lost along the way as they travel across the middle-east, we only have a rough estimate of those lives lost crossing into “westernized” nations. Those that are sent by their families because they can only fund one family member are the one’s most likely to be successful. That is why there is such a large influx of men vs. women and children.
              The warehouse in comparison to two weeks ago is like night versus day. Everyday we can see the difference and it is encouraging after staring at boxes and clothes labels all day. We have worked out a deal with the local municipality who gave us the warehouse to use. In return we give supplies to the hospital, child charities, and lower-income families on Samos. Yesterday’s struggle was finding boxes which entailed me driving to the port and to the nursing home/flat to find boxes. As we were sitting down to eat some lunch, the local Greek women who pick up supplies came and tore through the warehouse. All the boxes I had just found were taken as well as everything that had been organized was strewn all over and boxes were haphazardly put in the wrong designated areas. It became a pretty big set-back as well as deflating the morale of all the volunteers at the warehouse.
              I spent the afternoon working on my diagrams for the warehouse so we could bridge the language barriers for sorting and labeling. The plus side is that I can sit inside a café because I need to use the Wi-Fi. The negative is that my eyes start to burn after staring at Google images trying to find appropriate pictures to use that will not be offensive to the Muslims or any other people type. I have to milk my coffee out so that I can use the Wi-Fi, but that adds up after a few days.
              There is a big contrast between work here on Samos versus work on Lesvos or at home. In reality, I work less here I feel than back in the states, longer hours, but not quite as grueling. On Samos there is very little to no interaction with the refugees. It is more infrastructure, bureaucracy, and entertaining the children-which is not my forte. Working with my Lesvos group is more of a support group, while Samos group is more of a psycho-therapy group. Here I really feel no need to decompress, if so, I would have to decompress everyday back in the states. Lesvos we had more in common since we shared the same experiences, while on Samos I share less experiences with the volunteers than I do with my co-workers back in the states. Either way, every job is pertinent, it just feels entirely different, almost more of a “safe bubble” than living in the states where they do not report on the crisis.


              Today I returned to my warehouse. I was happy to see it in better order; Pru and all the volunteers had done a great job. I had been stressing about it the whole time I was gone. I spent the entire day sorting and organizing the warehouse with the other volunteers. For the most part I unofficially/officially manage the warehouse, which means I ensure efficiency with the volunteers. Since I will be here long-term I can keep the system in order instead of the volunteers who are here for a week and could change the system up.


              I returned to Samos around noon on the ferry. There were refugees leaving Lesvos to go to Athens, Greece and many more refugees from Samos joined them as I stepped onto land. The cabin that the volunteers use for distribution is right next to the port so I went there immediately to see if I could catch a ride back to my “flat”/nusing home. As I stepped in I was immediately swamped with new faces of volunteers who had arrived while I had been in Lesvos, and refugees boarding the ferry asking for warming layers, hats, and gloves. The cabin we use for distribution was immaculate when I had left, but as I stepped inside I could not even walk for boxes were spilling off the shelves all over the floor. I spent almost an hour trying to put it back into order, but left after volunteers kept on coming in and bringing in refugees in as well. I honestly was just overwhelmed from the past day, no sleep, and coming back to a mess that I had not forseen.
              I went back to the usual hang-out spot where we usually grabbed a meal or soda/coffee and use the Wi-fi. Probably the wrong decision, because I was sitting there absorbing the past 24 hours and suddenly realized that I was alone, again. We had always come here as a group, sharing each others plates, sharing stories, and relaxing after our shifts. I looked around at all the empty seats and would have completely lost it had not our waiter come over to sit with me for most of the time I was there. After I finished eating I went back and finally slept.
              I woke up late evening and wandered into the meeting room at the nursing home. Most of the volunteers were there, some who I knew, some who I did not know. It was good to see faces, but they had not shared the same experiences with me. Here on Samos it is more of a safe bubble where we only deal with the port camp, entertainment of the children, and light distribution. The warehouse is about as safe and far removed from the crisis as could ever be. A few of the volunteers had made soup, so at least there was that.