Moh is a 21-year-old man from Damascus, Syria. He volunteers as a translator at a school at a refugee camp on the Greek island of Chios, set up by Swiss charity Be Aware and Share (BAAS).
Tell me about your work with Be Aware and Share. What does an average day look like?
Volunteering with Be Aware and Share means, for me, that every day is special. Something new happens every day – there are always new kids and new challenges. We don’t have normal days or simple days, but each day is lovely, nice and funny.
I have been a refugee on Chios island since 16 June 2016 and I started working with BAAS on 18 July. Our day starts when we pick up the children from where they are living – in camps, hotels or apartment blocks. We walk or take the bus to school with the children and when they get there, they wash their hands and go into their classrooms. They usually have three lessons every school day – English or maths, an activity lesson and a project lesson, such as cookery or art.
After a long day at school for the kids, we walk them back and then pick up the next group and walk them to school, so they can have an exciting day too, just like the first group.
After a long day, we have to clean up and prepare the school for another amazing day for the children.
Do you enjoy working with the children in the refugee camp? What are the biggest challenges you face?
I really enjoy this work but sometimes it’s very hard because these kids have such a difficult life in the camps or wherever they are living. I know that because I have the same life. But volunteering is really nice and I am enjoying it.
For me, with my language skills, I understand the children and their cultures. Sometimes I have to be in lots of different places in a single day and this means that my days are often very full. But that’s what I want. I like to be busy because it’s better than doing nothing.
The biggest challenge is that I have the same situation and the same life as these children, and yet I have to be in a good mood because I am always with the children. They can feel it when you are in a bad mood, and they have enough sadness in their lives already.
... And what are the highlights of your work?
I have made many good friends here. I really enjoy their company and I am learning from them every day.
And also, I love seeing the children every day, coming to have fun, to learn, to smile, and to forget everything bad in their lives. Helping those children and seeing their smiles has really helped me to keep myself and my mind focused on this situation.
What would you like to do in the future? Is your current role helping you to get there?
I am not sure what I want do in the future. I’m always thinking about where I want to be, rather than what I want to do. This is because what I really want is to start new life, far away of all this violence and conflict between religions and cultures.
I don’t really think my work is helping me to get there, but it is helping me with many different parts of my life. It gives me something useful to do with my time in the camp, and I have been able to get to know many people from around the world. I have also learned more about life in Europe, which is where I am going to be in the future.
Do you think the international community is providing enough support for refugees such as those in Chios? What more should be done?
The response by the international community to this situation in Greece has been very bad. I would still prefer to be here than in Syria as we have the basic things we need, but there is no future for me here. I really miss the stability in my life.
But saying that, I am sure it’s hard for the governments around the world. They can’t accept everyone, because there might be really dangerous people among us and they can’t know who those people are… it’s a complex situation.
Photo credit: Be Aware and Share