Volunteering for Peace in Athens

Volunteering for Peace is a co-creative project established by SCI Hellas in cooperation with the Community of Afghan migrants and refugees in Greece, the Ivory Coast community and other refugee and migrant communities and organizations within Athens. This project runs from August 1st till September 30th, involving 18 volunteers from different European countries consisting of individuals from the UK, Italy, France, Romania, Poland, Finland and Spain. These individuals are given the role of organizing and running different workshops around the aim of Cultural sharing and Social inclusion of different vulnerable groups.

The implementation of the project works on the basis of inclusion, equality and non-discrimination. It tries to give different communities equal opportunities and to help expand their knowledge and understanding of other countries, communities and themselves. Each workshop created by the volunteers aims at equal social participation of all through the organization of events and classes. These activities will enhance the awareness of individuals on environmental, social, political and other issues that are prevalent in Athens, Greece at the moment.

The Volunteering for Peace (VfP) project organizes different open-ended actions in the form of creative workshops, photographic and/or historical walks in the city to get acquainted with the aspects that remain unknown to the participants. Besides that the project involves also film screenings from different countries or the communities’ own countries to create relaxed social situations for these individuals to be part of and to gain some knowledge from. There are also meetings/ casual discussions to explore the impact that volunteering is having on the daily lives of the local communities whilst also allowing the volunteers to improve their own personal development conducting these cultural sharing workshops and events at the same time.

Volunteering for Peace allows the volunteers and the members of the connected communities to understand the importance of creating forms of unified coexistence and equality policies within EU member states and the local communities that live these experiences as part of their daily lives. The volunteers are trained so as to develop teamwork, solidarity, respect for diversity and inclusion. They are able to enhance their own self-esteem and the ability to make collective decisions as well.

The impact and future expectations of the project at the local, regional, national and international levels will benefit the communities in many different aspects. Some include the ability to share knowledge, experiences and ideas amongst the volunteers, the young people of the local communities and paying most attention to vulnerable groups including refugees, asylum seekers and migrants to help enhance their day to day lives.

One of the main goals of the project is to strengthen relationships between partner organizations to help with the goal of unity and equality for all within Athens. As these projects go on, it allows the possibility of developing activities offered by organizations, promoting volunteering and the good work that comes from it. That includes sharing the ideas with local, national and international eyes and ears that believe in the same premise of inclusion and respect for all, no matter the background.

The interaction between these marginalized groups and international volunteers allows the communities to broaden their understanding of Europe and gives them the opportunity to express their interests to gain more knowledge. It also opens the door for a brighter horizon of their present and future lives. Volunteering for Peace works of the premise of non-formal learning and learning through play as the main tool for developing the individual and collective skills and abilities of the young people and adults through cooperation, communication and mutual understanding of one another.

The end result we are striving for is to decrease the prejudices and stereotypes placed upon certain groups, as well as training and motivating participants and any individuals involved in resolving conflicts, crises, and any other forms of negative situations that may appear, be it either physical or verbal. We hope that after the project is completed, these individuals will go back to their home countries more aware and socially active in expanding and benefiting their local communities and the perspectives of others, helping change the narrow local boundaries that may be present. Their involvement in the project will help to improve their confidence and ability to create a climate of cooperation, mutual help and trust.

This project is a follow up project to the #together_stronger which ran last summer 2018 and is made possible within the European Solidarity Corps programme.

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