Why I vol­un­teer – in Pam’s own words

Argyllshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

AS I LEFT the tea hut I no­ticed two young men stand­ing on the other side of the fence.

They smiled and said: ‘Thanks for the tea, we re­ally look for­ward to it twice a day.’

We chat­ted for a bit and I asked their names and where they came from. They both said Syria – Hamid from Aleppo and Khaled from Da­m­as­cus. I said I had been there sev­eral years ago and what a won­der­ful coun­try it was.

‘Not any more,’ came the re­sponse, and Khaled be­gan to cry qui­etly.

Bombed

‘I was walk­ing down the street and sud­denly my house was bombed in front of me,’ he said. ‘My whole life just dis­ap­peared in two min­utes.’

You learn very quickly when work­ing with refugees not to ask dif­fi­cult ques­tions, but just wait un­til they want to speak, or not.

De­spite my feel­ings of in­ad­e­quacy and not be­ing sure whether I was up to the job, I was sure I had made the right de­ci­sion, aged 71, re­cently wid­owed and with on­go­ing back prob­lems, in com­ing here to vol­un­teer to work with refugees.

The peo­ple who live in the camp, many fam­i­lies with young chil­dren, come from a va­ri­ety of coun­tries – Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Al­ge­ria and now So­ma­lia, to name a few, and live in ap­palling con­di­tions.

It’s nor­mal to see fam­i­lies of five or six liv­ing in pop-up tents de­signed for two peo­ple.

Some sleep just un­der a tar­pau­lin and in mid-Septem­ber, when the tem­per­a­ture soared to a scorch­ing 36 de­grees Cel­sius, some were just sleep­ing out in the open.

Samos Vol­un­teers re­lies on do­na­tions and the will­ing­ness of or­di­nary peo­ple, like you and I, to show sup­port by vol­un­teer­ing.

The hours are some­times long and a flex­i­ble at­ti­tude is es­sen­tial but the ex­pe­ri­ence is truly life-chang­ing.

The peo­ple you will be work­ing with will in­spire you and so will the refugees.

They are peo­ple just like us who hap­pen to be liv­ing through hor­ren­dous and trau­mat­i­cally dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances.

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