Roos taught music at the LHI Refugee Center in Serres, Greece in February through April of this year. She's released an EP on Spotify, all lyrics and music based on refugee stories she's heard first-hand.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I am from the Netherlands. I am 24 as of today and just graduated from the Conservatoire of Amsterdam in music direction and vocals, with an emphasis in pop. My life goal in life is to bring people closer together.
2. What is a day of volunteering at LHI like for you?
I had 5 classes per day, each group determined by different levels or ages. Each class had their own focus based on their interests. For example, with the little ones I would mostly playfully make music with rhythmic instruments. The teenage boys liked to use the time to jam together. The teenage girls were dedicated mastering the guitar so they could play their favorite Justin Bieber songs. Every group and every day was different; always so fun and magical!
3. What inspired you to get involved with LHI?
In the summer of 2016 I went to Nea Kavala Camp in Northern Greece to volunteer there for a couple of weeks with my mum. I started giving guitar and English lessons there. This is how I met a lot of wonderful Yazidis. When I decided to go back to Greece in February 2017 (this time for a couple of months), I wanted to see these wonderful people again; so I did some research and found out that they were in Nea Vrasna - later Serres. I heard that LHI was organising music lessons there, so I immediately contacted them.
4. What was your most rewarding experience volunteering at LHI’s refugee center in Greece?
Oef... That's very difficult to say. Every day was a new experience that taught me something...There were so many special moments! I remember this one moment that I sat in on a language class of about twelve girls ages 7-13 years old, and they decided to sing their traditional Yazidi songs for me, because they knew I was the music teacher. That was absolutely magical.
There were so many raw emotions. Some kids were so happy singing the songs reminding them of home, but there was also one girl that started crying because she missed her home so much. This feeling of community, already at such a young age, was very extraordinary and inspiring to me.
5. How has your experience LHI influenced you the most?
Well, it influenced me completely. Since my experiences in Greece I've been working with refugees in the Netherlands. I am very aware of the amount of refugees and the situation that they're in, so I just want to support them wherever I can. I am also still in contact with a lot of people I met in Serres, and I will actually go to Germany next week to visit a lot of those families. They are still in my mind all the time, and have a big place in my heart.
6. What have you learned since volunteering with LHI in Serres? Has your perspective changed?
Definitely. I always thought I was quite an aware person, but since I've been to Greece I've realized I wasn't. Since then I am also trying to raise awareness around me. I am a musician and decided to turn stories that refugees had told me into songs. This turned out into the EP 'maktub' (which means 'written' in Arabic). I hope this will bring awareness to the situation that is still taking place but seems to have lost the attention of the media (and therefore the people).
We're always looking for skilled and passionate volunteers at the LHI Refugee Center in Serres, Greece. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!