Frequently Asked Questions
Please take into consideration that we receive many emails and Facebook messages and sometimes it takes time till we reach your question or inquiry. Here you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions.
How can I volunteer with I AM YOU?
Please sign up on our website www.iamyou.se/volunteer and our Volunteer Coordinator will be in touch with you within a week. You can find information about what our Volunteers do on our website and through our updates on Facebook.
Who can volunteer with I AM YOU?
Our volunteers come from all over the globe and are from varied backgrounds and age groups. While we are a Swedish organization, we operate in English as it is the common language for our diverse volunteers. When emailing us or posting a question on Facebook, please write in English to ensure a quicker reply. The skills we look out for can be found on the “Volunteers” section of our website. Please note that we have a minimum age requirement - our volunteers have to be at least 24 years old.
What is the minimum amount of days I can volunteer?
This depends on the position for which you’re applying. If you’re applying for a translator position, the minimum required commitment time is 2 weeks. If you are applying for any other role the minimum required commitment time is 4 weeks. Long term volunteers or volunteers who speak Greek, Arabic, and Kurdish will receive priority consideration.
When should I come?
That generally depends on your availability. We welcome you to come anytime that works for you, however, we strongly prefer if you come in the evening (during workdays) and afternoon on weekends.
Will my costs be reimbursed?
The work is voluntary and you will not receive any economic compensation. Volunteers pay for their own flights and meals during your stay. I AM YOU sponsors volunteers with shared transport on location and special rates for accommodation. Whatever costs you might have that are spent on our programs must first go through our Field Coordinator. If approved, please remember to keep the receipts and return them to the Field Coordinator.
What is expected from an I AM YOU volunteer?
Volunteers are required to be respectful and kind to the camp community members, organizations, authorities and other volunteers. A great deal of energy and flexibility is required as your work will change from day to day. Our work goes through periods of high and low intensity, depending on the situation each day. It is therefore crucial that volunteers are able to use initiative in both high and low periods in order to react quickly when required and find opportunities to get to know the community members or come up with ideas at quieter times. We cover one seven hour shift in camp per day, working from 9.30-16.30 with two days off per week.
What work will I be doing?
Ritsona is a long term refugee camp. It currently host around 900 refugees, mostly Kurdish and Arabic speaking. There are few NGOs working in the camp: I AM YOU, CCS, Lighthouse Relief, KELPNO, Café Rits, . In addition there are representatives of the Greek community and independent volunteers.
I AM YOU volunteers are appointed to one of our Programs: Education Program (preschool and adult education), Welcome Project facilitator and Lifelines. More information on each can be found on our website. Please specify in your application which Program you would like to join and why.
How to get here
The closest airport is Athens International Airport. From Athens you will need to reach Chalkida, where somebody from our team will pick you up (if you’ll be living in the Volunteer house).
For short term volunteers we recommend renting a car in Athens (where it is cheaper) for the duration of your stay. Chalkida is approximately 1 hour’s drive from the airport. Your car will give you more freedom to travel to and from camp and around Chalkida and the surrounding areas. From the airport you can take bus X97 to Liosson Bus Terminal. Where you get off the bus, turn the corner to the large bus station. From here you can get a bus to Chalkida (it will say “Halkida” on the front). In total it will take between 2 and 3 hours depending on bus departure times. There is also a direct bus connection from the airport to Chalkida, which departs 4 times a day. To take this bus you must book a ticket in advance, as there is no point of sales at the airport nor on the bus. Please get in touch with the Volunteer Coordinator to get more information.
Where to stay
Please ask our Volunteer Coordinator if you would like to check availability in our volunteer house for a small nightly charge. Long-term volunteers and translators take priority.
Alternatively, John’s Hotel (www.johnshotel.gr), Lucy Hotel (www.lucy-hotel.gr) and Paliria Hotel (www.paliria-hotel.gr) have agreed on keeping discounted rates for volunteers. Prices, which include breakfast, are as follow:
- Double room, not sea view: 35 € for the room
- Double room, sea view: 50 € for one person, 55 € for two, 60 € for three
- Two bedrooms one bathroom apartment, not sea view: 60 € per room. Two more rollaway beds can be supplied for 13 € each.
Please always confirm with the hotel as prices may change as summer approaches.
Most of our communications are made through Whatsapp: we recommend volunteers to bring an unlocked phone and purchase a Greek sim card with data. It can be purchased in Chalkida or at the airport in Athens.
What to wear
This varies throughout the year, depending on the season(s) in which you will be here. We recommend volunteers to pack heavy-duty shoes and comfortable clothes for camp. In the summer light but culturally appropriate clothes (i.e. t shirts covering the shoulders and long loose-fitting trousers) are necessary, but we suggest to bring a light jacket for the evenings. A more detailed packing list can be found below. Note: women should always have their legs covered, preferably in loose clothing. Men are allowed to wear shorts during the summer, but they have to end below the knee.
Should I bring supplies/ donations?
If you think it’s something that won’t be easily sourced in Greece, yes. If unsure, please get in touch for further information.
For more common goods we recommend to try to buy them locally, to sustain the Greek economy. Also by buying goods here you will be able to identify the most pressing needs of the moment, which are always different.
It is important to keep in mind the sensitivities related to culture when deciding what clothes to pack. Although we are operating in Europe, the camp is very much the community of displaced people, therefore we should be respectful of their culture.
You will be provided with an I AM YOU branded t shirt upon arrival, and should pair this with long trousers/pants/jeans.
Comfortable shoes – these are essential as you will be on your feet all day and the terrain is uneven and rocky. If you are here long-term it is a good idea to bring more than one pair.
Jumper/jacket - a jumper, cardigan or light jacket is recommended for the cooler evenings. T shirts/tank top – you may choose to wear these underneath your I AM YOU shirt to keep it fresher for longer.
Backpack – It is a good idea to have a well-stocked bag with you at all times. Please bear in mind that there is no safe place to leave your things in camp, therefore we recommend that you keep it on you at all times.
Water Bottle – It is important to stay hydrated! In Greece you can buy 1,5 liter of water for €1 (during the summer, €0,80 during spring/autumn/winter).
Sunscreen and Hat - It is very hot in Greece and shade is not always guaranteed depending on your activity.
Hand sanitizer and/or baby wipes – bring hand sanitizer for your own hygiene and safety.
Insect Repellent – with DEET is best to stop the bugs biting!
Watch – It’s a good idea to bring if you don’t want to use all of your battery from your phone. Our activities run to a schedule and we rely on the punctuality of our volunteers.
Powerbank/portable charger - We communicate through whatsapp all day every day, and batteries can drain quickly. Electricity to the camp is very limited, so a portable charger or a powerbank will rescue you!
Rainponcho – A good thing to have with you just in case the weather changes.
Hair tie – If you have long hair, it is a good idea to bring some hair ties. Sometimes there can be lice in the camps so it’s a good idea to put up your hair.