What is the camp?
The camp is officially known as the Registration and Identification Center (RIC). It is one of the five ‘hot spots’ receiving refugees arriving from Turkey. It is the place where asylum seekers 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.
For security reasons, we do not provide details of the location of the camp.
Do I need a car to get around?
While 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 ask for a small voluntary contribution from all volunteers to allow us to rent transport. You can also rent your own car or scooter while you’re here.
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 email@example.com if you can't find the answers to your questions!
Volunteering with us 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.
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 most close in the afternoons between 2-6pm.
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 have cash, 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 arrive, which means you need to ensure that your mobile phone is unlocked before you get here. 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. While we are not here to provide any sort of medical, legal, or psychological support, we empower and support them through our work and activities at the camp.
Living conditions at the camp are extremely basic, unsanitary and often quite shocking. There are often shortages of both water and electricity, and the majority of refugees are surviving on camp rations. The pace of arrivals is fast and unrelenting, and the camp is dangerously overcrowded. Some volunteers might find the conditions upsetting and disturbing, particularly if they do not have experience in this field of work. If you are ever 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.
Does Samos Volunteers distribute clothes, food or other items?
The camp authorities are responsible for providing clothes, shelter, food and hygiene items to people resident in the camp. While we started as a distribution-focused organisation, we now aim to provide psychosocial support, education, and to meet emergency sanitary needs.
Can I drink the tap water?
No. Please drink bottled water, or filter your water