Dates: 15 January – 14 July 2021
Venue: Athens, Greece
Programme and action: European Solidarity Corps, volunteering projects – long-term
Please read the infopack.
Hosting organization: IASIS
Volunteers: Héloïse Enjalbal
From January to July 2021, I had the chance to take part in a long-term European Solidarity Corps (ESC). The project was based in Athens and was hosted by a non-governmental organisation named IASIS, which focuses mainly on helping people with mental health disabilities, for instance through boarding houses or day centres. However, the organisation keeps on enlarging its activities, and now also opened a clothing bank and different
programs including children.
While in Athens, I was volunteering as a social worker. Every day, I was in charge of bringing lunch to four people who were suffering from bipolarity or schizophrenia. Sometimes, I would simply keep them company. As my knowledge of the Greek language was basic, we would mostly communicate with our hands, eyes but mostly with our hearts. Two days a week, I would also go to street markets to collect fruits and vegetables that would not have been sold. We would then drive to foster homes and churches to deliver the goods. The amount of food we would collect was great and sometimes, we would not even fit it in the van.
During my free time, I would explore the city, which was especially perfect during winter, as Athens was completely empty due to travel restrictions. I also had the chance to travel through Greece once the restrictions were loosened. Moreover, I was spending most of my time with the friends I made there. As I had ten roommates, it would always be someone up for something, which was very nice. However, I also became friends with locals, which enabled me to gain a true insight into the Greek culture and way of perceiving life.
My experience with the European Solidarity Corps was intense but surely interesting and life-changing. I was thrilled about the level of solidarity in Greece and especially the willingness of people to make a change and help. Greek hospitality is truly an unspoken rule and a mindset. I am very thankful to have been a part of IASIS’s fight for making a change in Greek society. I am especially proud to bring back to the Czech Republic everything I learnt in Athens and to be able to share this knowledge with the European youth.