Volunteer Story: Katherine in Bosnia

Having worked in politics for the past few years, I was frustrated that the refugee crisis is something that’s not discussed enough here in the UK, let alone by our politicians. I knew I wanted to do something to help, but had no idea where to start. The awesome team at Indigo connected me with a four week placement at the House of All on the outskirts of Sarajevo in Bosnia.

The House of All provides a safe, secure, and happy environment for 20 or so families. The job of the volunteers is to create a space for residents to live as normal life as possible in the midst of difficult journeys ahead. This is a place where life happens: memories made, first steps taken, friendships forged, times tables learned, chess tournaments entered into (and taken very seriously), birthdays celebrated, and meals shared.

My main role was to teach in the school, running three 1-hour classes every morning for kids aged 5 to 12, mostly English and Maths but Geography (from telling the time to learning more about the countries they might eventually settle in) thrown in too. Outside the schoolroom, I helped organise activities everything from football in the park to craft projects and cookie making, as well as ad hoc English conversation classes with the adults, and helping the team with administration.

My fellow volunteers are amazing; pulled from all corners of the world and equipped with a whole range of skills, everyone is buzzing with ideas of how to make the House even better (even on our days off!). The situation in Bosnia is still very new and there were relatively few organisations supporting refugees there. Sarajevo is not the wealthiest of places but we were frequently overwhelmed by the generosity of local people, not just in donating toys and warm clothes, but also their time, from providing counselling to running art classes.

It has been a privilege to be part of the community that is the House of All, and to meet and work with truly incredible human beings. For anyone even a little bit interested in getting involved, even the smallest actions can make a huge difference, so just do it!