Just want to be useful

Publié: 1 septembre 2015 19:53 CET

Thomas Andre Syvertsen

More than 180,000 vulnerable migrants have arrived in Greece this year. At the Elaiones Reception Center for migrants outside of Athens, three times a day, volunteers from the Hellenic Red Cross prepare and deliver food. This past weekend, 528 people arrived in the reception center, mostly families from Afghanistan who have spent the last couple of months on the run.

 ”I just want to be useful,” says Christina Demiri, 29, on her first day volunteering since she lost her job a month ago.  ”This is my way of helping out and actually doing something, and now I have free time, ” says Demiri. Today she joins eight other volunteers who help breakfast and lunch, and arrange activites for kids at the  center.

The Elaiones Reception Center, which opened at the beginning of August, is quite new. It has room for 740 people and is the only reception center in Athens. Organizing activities for children is an important part of the volunteer work at the reception center without which children would be idle most of the day. Even though most of the children do not know English or Greek, they enjoy playing with the Red Cross volunteers.

”We don’t need to speak the same language. The children are smart and open. They are kids after all. They want to see, touch, move and explore. Playing is universal and knows no borders,” says 20-year old volunteer Dimogiann Atlina.

”Most people stay at the center for a couple of days. They don’t wish to stay in Greece. They are just preparing for the next step and contacting family and friends if they have any in Europe,” says Peneloppy Michailidou from the Social Welfare Departement in the Hellenic Red Cross.