What is the warehouse?
The warehouse is the place where all the donations are shipped from abroad and also from Greece. It is one of the key locations for volunteers and we spend a lot of our time here. The warehouse is located in Vathy but not so easily accessed by foot from the town.
We do not provide details of the location of the warehouse for security reasons.
What is the camp?
The camp is officially known as the Registration and Identification Center (RIC) or ‘hot spot’. It is the place where refugees and migrants are registered after having arrived by boat and where they are detained for the first 25 days following their arrival in Europe. After the 25 day period, refugees are allowed to leave the camp, but the majority remain living in tents and containers on site. It is not a place where volunteers can stay. The camp is located next to Vathy, about a 10 minute walk from the town.
We do not provide details of the location of the camp for security reasons.
Do I need a car to get around?
Whilst most of our working locations are within walking distance of the town centre, it is essential that our team has at least a few cars in the group at a time, to transport resources and equipment. We recommend that if you have a licence that you rent a car or scooter, or plan to share the costs of car rental and fuel while you are in Samos with someone who does. Having access to transport is useful for every Samos Volunteer.
Who do I contact about volunteering?
Please first read all the information on our website prior to completing the application form, but feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org if you can't find the answers to your questions.
If you are confirmed as a volunteer on Samos, this is not formal employment and therefore we cannot offer documentation to support visas, internships or university credits. Nor can we provide accommodation. We remind you that none of our volunteer positions are paid.
Can I bring my children?
We do not accept minors under the age of 18 under any circumstances. No-one under the age of 18 can be granted access to the camp, nor take on a teaching role.
Where can I buy food, pharmacy items, SIM cards, etc.?
There are several supermarkets, phone providers, and pharmacies within walking distance of the Vathy town centre.
Note: many places are closed on Sundays, and often close in the afternoons between 2-5pm.
Are credit cards accepted?
Credit cards are usually accepted at hotels and for car rentals, but Greece is largely a cash economy. Small grocery stores are often not equipped to take credit cards—or may not be happy to do so. It’s a good idea to bring cash in Euros, especially outside of Vathy. There are plenty of ATMs in Vathy, and you will probably be able to withdraw up to 500 euros a day.
Will my phone work?
That depends. Being contactable at all times is essential for all volunteers, due to the unpredictability of our work. We advise that our volunteers get a Greek SIM card when they start volunteering, which means you need to ensure that your mobile phone is unlocked before your arrival. Volunteers communicate via Facebook messenger, so having an internet and call package is important.
Will the work be challenging?
At times, yes. The majority of refugees who arrive in Samos have experienced violent conflict and we need to be sensitive to this. Whilst we are not here to provide any sort of medical, legal, or psychological support, we empower and stimulate the refugees through our work and activities at the camp.
Living conditions at the camp are extremely basic, unsanitary and often quite shocking; there can be shortages of both water and electricity and the majority of refugees are surviving on camp rations. Following the influx of new arrivals in October 2016 whereby over 1,400 people arrived in just one month, the camp became very overcrowded. Some volunteers might find the conditions upsetting and disturbing, particularly if you do not have experience in this field of work . If ever you are upset or finding that things are overwhelming, the project coordinators will be there for you. If you need some time out, tell us. It’s essential to inform us if you are finding it difficult to cope with the work.
If you do find yourself overwhelmed by what you’re experiencing as a volunteer, please contact Leah Davidson through Facebook –North London Psychotherapy -or by email. She has a team of trained counsellors who are available via Skype and happy to talk to volunteers for free. Georgina Lewis has set up a similar service via the Facebook group Refugee Trauma Support.
Is Samos safe?
Yes. Greece has virtually no violent or petty crime. However, it is possible that you could find yourself in a challenging situation during an activity. In this instance, exit the situation if it is safe to do so and immediately contact the project coordinator.
Can I give refugees a ride in my car?
It is illegal to give rides to people held in a detention camp who have been there for less than 25 days. After 25 days, refugees should receive a document permitting them to move freely outside the camp. Though people with this document can move around Samos freely, we advise you not to take risks: only give rides to people you know and never take children without their parents.
Can I drink the tap water?
No. Please drink bottled water, or bring your own water filter.