I could only volunteer at the Orange House for two weeks, but in that short amount of time I worked with an amazing range of people. Much of the work was supported by residents and visitors, which made every task go faster. Many of the refugee visitors were excited to practice English, which gave me an opportunity to connect with them. Volunteers were encouraged to innovate in order to maximize our contributions to the OH. That encouragement led to some exciting projects! The scheduling was also flexible enough to allow my girlfriend and I to work similar hours.
The nature of volunteering at the Orange House meant that my days included many different tasks that contributed to the larger mission: writing math tests for eager children, sharing stories about my life with interested adults, helping install a washing machine, and sorting puzzle pieces. While volunteering, I felt that each task was appreciated and supported by residents and visitors alike. Even though I was there for only a short time, I saw the power of the Orange House. Children opened up in the safe environment, adults found resources they never knew existed, and a strong community thrived in the heart of Athens.
Despite only being my third volunteer experience, my time at the Orange House was, without doubt, one of the most wonderful and enriching experiences I’ve ever had.
The Orange House is special, because it does not only help with a refugee’s basic needs such as food or housing, but it also provides a space where people can develop their human, social and cultural dimensions.
Day after day, dozens of people arrive in the house for classes, workshops or just relaxing and socializing. As a volunteer, it is so special to get to know so many people with different backgrounds and stories. Working in close proximity with these special people gives you the opportunity to get involved with the culture, thoughts and feelings of the residents and visitors. It also helps you to develop a special sensitivity and empathy towards others.
One of the major advantages of the Orange House is the small size of the organization. It allows you to get to know every member of the community and to have a real perception of the day to day operations of the organization and its residents. I really appreciate the opportunity Marina and Hassan gave me to work at the Orange House and the excellent job they are doing on preserving the dignity and humanity of all refugees.