I first found out about the volunteer project through Indigo Volunteers. I was compelled to volunteer for them because I wanted to try and help where I could with the refugee crisis. I’ve never worked as a medical volunteer before so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
My volunteering experience
I volunteered in Athens for 2 weeks. I was added to the WhatsApp group two days before I arrived which was really useful as Anas, our coordinator, introduced me to the team and let me know where to meet everyone on my first day.
A typical day working as a doctor for the Medical Volunteers in Athens
Each day is actually very different which makes it interesting. Normally, we have a clinic in the morning, seeing everything from babies, pregnant women, adults and the elderly. Most things we can manage ourselves like viral illnesses, chest infections, wounds, scabies, cellulitis etc. Occasionally, patients need referrals for emergency treatment or for specialist care. In the afternoon we normally do another clinic at another location. This varies from squats to other NGOs to refugee camps. In squats we tend to see more skin infections, scabies, head lice etc. In the evening we often eat dinner together or go out for drinks.
I most enjoyed working at the Steps clinic, treating the homeless. We saw many very serious wounds and infections that we were able to treat. The place has a great atmosphere and is an amazing project that helps so many vulnerable people.
Lots of the refugees were very well educated and many had high achieving professions back in their home countries. One of my favourite things about volunteering was meeting the refugees and finding out more about them and hearing their stories.
I think my team also made my experience so great! The on-site team was friendly, sociable and we all had a lot of fun working together. I found it very interesting working with healthcare professionals from different cultures and backgrounds – it was fascinating to see how they practice medicine and we were all able to learn from each other.
Volunteering in these amazing teams has made me realise the huge scale of the refugee crisis, has helped me appreciate how helpless many of these displaced people are and how much help they still need.