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The reality of volunteering on the ground

Volunteering is such a beautiful experience and a powerful way to give back and make an impact. If you've not volunteered before though, you may not realise that it is going to be an experience you can never fully predict or expect. It requires an open mind, a strong motivation, and tons of empathy and resilience. This is especially the case for volunteers joining Indigo's grassroots charities, who are often small in scale, and with limited human and financial resources.

Sirine is one of our wonderful volunteers who spent 7 months in Calais, France supporting a charity that runs childrens activities. Although she loved her time volunteering, she shared with us some of the difficulties she faced along the way and the things she learnt.

"The workload was a lot and I loved it. I loved my job. But because we were a small org, in the field, every time something happened you had to adjust how you were working. I ended up doing lots of things that weren't in my role — acting reactively, prioritising the emergencies in the moment. I think that’s the difference to an internship.
The charity facilitated play sessions with children, went into camps and in other places like day care centres, safe houses. It was really cool because we worked alongside other organisations to support the children. I was volunteer and welfare coordinator.
Every day, I was really trying to anticipate what was going on, what can happen and how we can adjust to that. It was very strategic. It wasn’t really my role, but somebody needed to do it.
I already had experience with kids in terms of activities, but this was a lot of responsibility as a coordinator — I’d never had a leadership role before. It all fell on me! But I was not afraid — it was absolutely the best choice of my life.
I really encourage other people to volunteer — it’s such a cool experience. For the youth who don’t know what they want to do, there are so many aspects that you can experience through this field work, and really help to get you to know what you want to do with your life. There’s so many valuable skills you will develop through this work, as long as you keep an open mind. I don’t know a better cause than the refugee one."

If this got you thinking and you want to become a volunteer, get your journey started here.

Read more volunteer stories here.


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