When I first started volunteering at the Piraeus refugee camp, I never expected that I would be changed so much. I never could have imagined how much of an impact these experiences would have on my life. Each and every day when I was volunteering, I saw acts of kindness and love surrounding me, but not from the volunteers. From the refugees. Time after time, day after day, these amazing people were giving and loving unconditionally, even though they had nothing left in the world but the kindness in their hearts.
They had lost their homes, their families, their schools, their cities, their memories, and their childhoods. And yet after all the pain and suffering they had endured, they still were loving people and wanted to help others. I found that they put other people’s needs before their own, even if they were in a bad situation.
So many nights families would invite us into their tents to have a meal with them and to share their food. Even though they had very little food or water, they shared it openly and willingly with us. During Ramadan, after a whole day of fasting, they would share the little food they had with us. They wanted to make sure that we were happy, before themselves. I found this so amazing!
So many of the kids would insist on giving us bracelets, or toys, or anything they could find. They constantly were giving and sharing everything they had left with other people. This kindness and love completely overwhelmed me, and I found myself so happy and hopeful in the midst of a refugee camp. I found myself smiling and laughing all day long with these people, even though there was sadness and fear also surrounding me. But the love and joy overwhelmed the sadness side of it all. You see, even though they were hurt and sad, they still wanted to be kind and share what they had.
I have so many memories where I was helped, loved, and cared for. I have countless and countless of experiences where I was in need and someone came and helped me. So many days when I was sad and I was comforted, and so many moments when I was feeling overwhelmed with love, kindness, and appreciation.
In those 4 months, I saw what true kindness was. The refugee kids taught me the true meaning of kindness and how to help people in need. Instead of being the one that was helping, I was helping and receiving simultaneously. They taught me how to love people unconditionally, even when you just met them. They taught me that kindness and giving are completely free, and that it takes no effort to love. They showed me how to bring happiness to others and taught me that true joy is found when you are giving.
I am so grateful to these people and cannot say thank you enough. They have changed the way I live and have inspired me to be more kind, compassionate and loving.