Volunteer Story: Tamara in Samos, Greece

By Tamara

My friend recommended that I use Indigo to explore volunteering for humanitarian grassroots projects.

She had used the organisation to volunteer for an NGO in Lesvos, Greece. It was the first time I had heard of an organisation that allows people to connect with NGOs across the globe for free. Previously, I had been put off by the costs incurred from volunteering abroad. To me, it seemed unethical, immoral and illogical to charge people to do something honest and essential. However, Indigo acted as the perfect tool in connecting me to an incredible grassroots NGO in Greece completely fee-free. 

I do not have any unique qualifications – I am not a teacher, nor a social worker, nor am I a medical professional. But, I have always wanted to volunteer, and I knew I could be a useful extra pair of hands in areas that require humanitarian assistance. I personally felt compelled to help with the ongoing European refugee crisis, as it is saddening to hear how thousands of people fleeing from conflict and violence are still stuck in transit and are still having to endure unsustainable living conditions. Thus, getting in touch with Indigo was the magical way of mobilising me to take action, as they offer a large number of Refugee and Migrant projects in France, Serbia, Bosnia and Greece. 

With Indigo, the whole application process was really easy and straightforward. Once I communicated how my skills could be of use, I was put in touch with Refugee4Refugees within a matter of days. R4R runs a number of humanitarian projects, but its core focus is to provide essential non-food items such as clothes, tents and hygiene items to refugees and asylum seekers in the Aegean Islands. It was exactly what I was looking for; an opportunity to tangibly assist refugees, and to work alongside people from all walks of life who are willing to do what they can to change individual worlds.  

On the 19th November, I was set to go to Samos and for the next three weeks, I helped R4R’s operations on the island. I was able to work in their “distribution shop” that provides clothes, tents and hygiene items to new arrivals and thousands of other refugees. Furthermore, I assisted in the warehouse that organised all the essential items needed for the shop, and I helped children cross the roads safely from the rented plot of land R4R own back to the camp. Most excitingly, I was involved in a number of mass resource distributions; from a diaper distribution that entailed giving out at least 50,000 diapers to almost 950 families, to a baby food distribution that saw over a hundred families receive a two-week supply of nutritious baby food jars! The most important part of my experience volunteering for R4R was that I never felt like a cog in a machine. I was part of an extraordinarily dedicated and committed family that ensured I felt valued and appreciated. If Indigo had not connected me to R4R, I might not have ever been able to volunteer for such an incredible NGO. 

It is definitely worth mentioning that the Indigo team were supportive and easily accessible throughout my volunteering process. From receiving check-ins from the team before boarding my plane to Samos, to checking up on how I was acclimatising to my volunteer placement. I never felt alone or overwhelmed during my entire experience!