This final blog records my last week working with Movement On The Ground (MOTG) in Lesvos, as well as my thoughts on returning home.
My last week was as busy as usual, with plenty of linguistic opportunities as always:
Here are the stand-out moments of my last week:
The coast of Lesvos - a stunning island which is at the heart of a major humanitarian crisis
I was worried about feeling racked with guilt once the time came to leave the island. It turns out, though, that I simply feel glad that I was able to volunteer, after years of having the intention but not the right opportunity. While every volunteer at Movement plays a very important role in running the organisation, I am grateful that I was able to offer my linguistic skills to complement my regular volunteering duties. During my six-week placement, I was the only Arabic-speaking international volunteer with MOTG; time and again the value of knowing Arabic was made clear. People commented on the quality of connections that I was able to make with residents, through communicating with them in their native language. Although I heard some shocking stories from residents, which were difficult to process, I would never have taken away the opportunity for a resident to get something off their chest and educate us “internationals” on the reality of the situation – especially when the reality is much more brutal than the Western media depicts.
So, how does it feel now, to be removed from the situation after 40 days of complete immersion in the refugee crisis? I must say that it is difficult to take interest in “first-world problems” (for want of a better phrase) after what I have seen and heard. However, I am happy that my experience has encouraged some around me to seriously consider and ask questions about this humanitarian issue for the first time. I am also extremely grateful to those who supported my Crowdfunder page (https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/underwear-and-socks-for-refugees-). I think some family members may have even caught my volunteering bug…
When I left Lesvos on the 26th April, it was with the word “momentum” on my lips. In whatever form my future linguistic career takes, I know that I will continue working with refugees. The range of activities that I was involved in on this placement have only stoked my fire. Leaving Lesvos was not the end; it is only the beginning.
Read more about Movement On The Ground here: https://movementontheground.com/