Beth (age 23 from UK) spent a large chunk of her summer volunteering for our program Serres, Greece. She was kind enough to write up her experiences to share on our blog!
I have been volunteering in Serres with LHI for 5 weeks now. Time seems to have a mind of its own here; I feel as though I have only just arrived and yet somehow I cannot remember life outside of my journey here with the Yazidis.
Many of our refugee friends have been granted asylum and left for Athens this week, where they will wait a month or two to be processed before their flights to their new countries. Because of this, our team has shared many tender "see you laters" with our Yazidi friends as they continue on their paths to their new lives.
I recently wished good luck to one of my students, who is one of the kindest, strongest and most genuine humans I have had the privilege to meet. He is going to Athens to prepare for his new life now that his family have been granted asylum. “Thank you, my teacher. I will miss you, my sister” are his parting words.
In spite of all they have faced, so many of them come to class every day with a smile, ready to learn and grow. Yet they take the time to thank us for our lessons and classes. They are determined to keep fighting for a better future, despite major challenges they have faced AFTER being forced to flee for their lives. I came to Serres to teach English, but every day I learn from the Yazidis; lessons in humility, resilience, gratitude and kindness.
Serres is a special community where the residents have found friendship and safety through their tight-knit sense of community. It is incredible that they are given a chance to move on and resettle, but their departure from Serres is not the end of their stories. The future brings another set of challenges and some uncertainty, but they can face any challenge after the trials and struggles they've been through.
The relationships I have made in Serres will span distance and time; I can't wait to see some of my friends again, perhaps when they start a new chapter beyond Serres, beyond Greece!