Hestia was founded in 2017 to address the growing need for mental health services, psychosocial support, life skills training, integration-focused services, and services for children with special needs. The founders have worked with refugees in Greece since the height of the crisis in 2015. In addition, our director has over twenty years of experience working in the humanitarian aid field, including with the United Nations, MADRE, and other actors in the United States, Africa, Asia, Central America, and now Europe. Hestia is comprised of a team of professionals, including mental health experts, researchers, and volunteers who are dedicated to meeting the long-term needs of vulnerable populations.
Mosaic of Voices
One of the greatest parts of volunteering internationally is the variety of people I meet every day. Last Saturday, Emilie, a fellow volunteer, and I, went to a poetry event to support our friend Merna who read her poems on that evening. Merna kindly agreed to share her heartfelt and touching poem with me to further share it with the readers of Years of Change. This mosaic of voices weaves together segments of poems written by different participants in the Stories of Arrival: Refugee and Immigrant Youth Voices Poetry Project from the past eight years. Project founder, co-director and teaching poet, Merna Ann Hecht, wanted to create a piece that would speak to our present time of forced migrations, to honor the voices of young refugees and immigrants and to remind people that while every individual story matters, there are shared elements to each person’s migration story–the having to leave home in order to survive–these young voices tell that story. Merna is…
Athens: The First Days
As I described it in the previous post, my trip to Athens started off quite peculiarly. This post will take you through a day-by-day journal of my first few days in Athens. Thursday, November 1st. It’s 3 AM. You’d think I’d have a hard time waking up or being motivated to leave, but quite the contrary. I take a taxi, arrive at 4:15 AM and at 4:30 I’m sitting at the cafe passed the gates with my laptop out. Similarly to working in a hotel, there’s something motivating about being in an airport this early in the morning. It’s almost like the rest of the world is asleep, so being awake makes you twice as productive. I write a couple more articles, polish the documents I’m sending my supervisor in Morocco, and soon enough it’s time to board the plane. I arrive in Athens at 10 AM. Getting out of the aeroplane to 27 degrees and the blazing sun instantly…
Busses, Hotels and a Really Weird Evening
Although this 2-month experience was expected and planned, the departure itself came very spontaneously. I was interviewed by Hestia Hellas on the 26th of October, booked my flight on the 28th, and landed in Athens on the 1st of November. The “pre-departure” day to Athens was, in itself, quite intriguing, as you will read. Wednesday, October 31st. Happy Halloween! I’m travelling to Berlin today where I’ll fly to Athens. Why Berlin, you ask? As I talk about it in this post, flying in Europe can be super cheap if you know how to travel on a budget. I start with a bus ride to Berlin Schönefeld, take a shuttle bus to the hotel, and settle in for the day. I grab a quick dinner at the lobby and enjoy a glass of wine while doing some readings for an upcoming internship in Morocco– I am contributing to a 12-week course aimed at American exchange students, and local students, in Rabat.…