During the month that felt like a lifetime, this June 2019, I volunteered for Za’atar NGO. From folding children’s clothing, organizing a folder, and even giving a guitar class in sign language; to taking an improvised Irani dance lesson at the Layali Salon, I learnt what volunteering is all about, what activism and social change truly mean. Back in France, where I have not stopped working for Za’atar NGO, and before going back to Athens as soon as possible, I thought I would give you a little insight of what my life had been – or really what it became, there at The Orange House.
My name is Aude Sathoud, I am an eighteen-year-old French-Congolese student in Political and Social Sciences at Sciences Po, and this is a little bit of my story.
Part 1 – Where I Learn That Every Action Matters.
Hosted at the volunteers’ apartment where I lived for four weeks with some eight different roommates, coming from Australia, Mexico, France, and Morocco I quickly understood the importance of the “team spirit” Za’atar promotes, which soon turned into a real family bond.
I spent part of my time at The Orange House, Za’atar’s day center where volunteers work in four-hour-shifts, welcoming students, receiving donations, answering phone calls, informing newcomers, and insuring a positive atmosphere and the smoothest running of the House.
Once or twice a week I was sent to the warehouse run by a partner organization of Za’atar, Pampiraiki, settled in the buildings of the old Athens’ airport and 2004 Olympic stadiums. Requisitioned in emergency at the peak of the migrant arrivals to the Piraeus port, this vast empty space hosted thousands of people for a period, before being transformed into a sorting center for the donations flowing from around the world into Greece and all of Europe.
Clothing, shoes, games, blankets, food, and more; I spent hours there, packing and ordering. While this may not be Za’atar’s first mission, it is a crucial aspect to them to provide their support and take part in every step of the process in order to build a global solution to the migrants’ and refugees’ situations. Sharing this belief, I did not hesitate for an instant when I was offered to take part in a beach clean-up of one of Athens’ most crowded and consequently polluted beaches, Edem.
According to the United Nations, the world will count 250 million climatic refugees in 2050. Dedicated to refugees’ empowerment, Za’atar NGO considers social action in its widest meaning, and therefore makes sure that all of its’ initiatives act in favour of the protection of the ecosystems and sustainable development. That is why they offer vegan meals at The Orange House daily, buy raw materials from local producers, use vegan/cruelty-free brands at Layali Salon, and sell clothes at the Layali Shop which are often made from recycling the many donations received by the organization.
Stay tuned for the next peak into my volunteering experience with Za’atar NGO! To learn more about them, and their various amazing initiatives please visit their websites and Instagram!