We were lucky enough to have Holly (21, from Scotland) for several months over two different stints, first as a volunteer and then a coordinator. She just graduated from St. Andrews with a degree in International Relations. She plans on working in human rights and atrocity prevention in the near future. Working with LHI in Serres opened her eyes, especially to the Yazidis’ plight. She hopes to visit Kurdistan soon.
What is/was your position at LHI?
I had various positions. The latest was as coordinator. My responsibilities included overseeing management for both the Female-Friendly and Child-Friendly Spaces, volunteer intake, and liaising with larger NGOs that serve the Yazidi population, amongst other roles.
How and why did you get involved with LHI?
For a while, I was looking to volunteer on one of the islands. While looking for a position, a group called HelpRefugees sent me an advert about a refugee center that works with Yazidi refugees, and my mind went back immediately to news articles I’d read about a woman who’d been taken by ISIS. I remembered that Yazidis had been especially targeted by ISIS.
What was a typical day of volunteering at LHI's Refugee Center like for you?
I don’t think there’s a typical day in Serres, to be honest! We covered so many things, like emergency aid to picking up medical prescriptions to dealing safeguarding issues to sorting aid in the warehouse. Typically I would spend the morning in meetings, whether that would be check-ins or volunteer orientation, and then I would help intake new volunteers. In the afternoon, I would go to the Center to make sure everything was running okay, or if anyone needed anything I could be on the ground to assist them.
What was your most rewarding experience working at LHI’s refugee center in Greece?
Getting to spend time with the residents. I grew up in Scotland and had never met anyone from Iraq and had never heard of Yazidis. Spending time around people who have endured so much but are so humble, kind, intelligent…they’re just the most incredible people. That has given me the motivation, not only to go home and try to advocate on their behalf, but it also puts our lives into perspective and how much we have to be grateful.
What have you learned since volunteering with LHI in Serres? Has your perspective on anything changed?
Most of us are luckier than we’ll ever know, and that our privilege is mostly based on luck — where we were born, what religion we were born into, and we should always be aware of that. It’s taught me that despite how much evil there is in the world, meeting the Yazidis and meeting the other volunteers has reaffirmed my faith that there are really good people out there. It’s also made me more aware of how people feel about refugees at home. I’ve had a lot of conversations with people since getting home that I would’ve have had otherwise. Volunteering gives you that platform to demystify a lot of the things you see in the media.
THANK YOU, HOLLY! We sure miss you and wish you the best of luck!