Brighter Giving, our skill-based volunteering programme, provides Godrejites with volunteering opportunities to help make a meaningful impact to the community. Each year, our team members take up projects that address a nonprofit's needs.
In June 2016, Sarah Selwood and Harriet Walsh from our Godrej UK team, took a week off from work and volunteered at two Syrian refugee camps in Greece. Here’s a first-hand account, from them:
When we reached Greece with 7 other indiGO volunteers ( www.indigovolunteers.org ) to help with the refugee crisis, we had no idea what to expect. All we knew was, we were willing to do anything to help!
We split our time between two camps during the week - Nea Kavala, Polykastro - a disused airport, which is now home to nearly 4,000 refugees; and SK Market, Kalochori - a deserted toilet roll factory, which was set up as a camp only days before we arrived - housing around 400 people. We met many families who explained to us how they had risked their lives by paying smugglers thousands of pounds to flee their homes in small boats. Many of their family members and friends had died, trying to make the journey to Greece. It was heartbreaking to hear.
Majority of the volunteers assisted at the makeshift school, teaching the adults and children English. We, on the other hand, spent most of our time playing with the children, which was amazing. We also enjoyed a few games of football - however, the 40 degree heat was our excuse for unimpressive skills!
We spent one afternoon volunteering at baby hammam, bathing babies as the overall hygiene facilities were so poor. This involved boiling water in an old saucepan on small camping stoves and then washing the babies in small plastic bowls. The mothers were so thrilled to have their little ones clean - it was heart-rending that they were so grateful for something that should be an everyday event, not a luxury.
It was an absolute privilege for us to have been welcomed into so many people's lives in these refugee camps, sharing our time with these amazing, brave people. A lot of the people we met were either in education or had left good jobs and homes to live in a tent just for their safety.
This was such a humbling experience. We couldn’t wait to go back, and are thrilled to be returning to Nea Kavala in late September, for 3 more days!