Our Alumna Julia, stayed on the island of Lesvos, Greece, to help the organisations The Drop in the Sea (Norwegian) & Bootvluchteling (Dutch)

23 February, 2016
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“The warmth, gratefulness, and shy smiles given to us for what we were doing, is an experience I will never forget.” In February, after six months of mental preparation and 1.5 months of fundraising, our Alumna, Julia S. , together with doctor Marije B., packed their bags and headed down to the island of Lesvos, Greece, to offer help to The Drop in the Sea (Norwegian) & Bootvluchteling (Dutch). These organisations have assisted thousands of refugees arriving at Lesvos the last year, and raise money to provide these people in need with food, sleeping bags, tents and emergency kits, amongst other things.

In 2015, around 700.000 refugees arrived in Greece. Half of these refugees fled in rubber boats crossing the ocean with the hope of arriving at the Greek island, Lesvos.

Julia says the following about the first boat arriving during her time on Lesvos: “Our first boat arrived on 2 February, at 01:15 during our night shift. The boat was one of these life endangering rubber boats filled with 35 Syrians wearing life jackets made out of plastic, seating mats or other non-floating elements. Once the refugees got off the boat, we handed them warm clothing, blankets, juices, water, cookies and the kids were packed with thermo socks, lollipops and chocolate. We spoke to the people and comforted them. We gave the kids so much candy that the sadness and fear in their eyes slowly started to let go. An old woman held me and hugged me as I gave her my jacket to stay warm. The warmth, gratefulness and shy smiles which were given to us for doing something we would do over and over and over again, was an experience I will never forget.”

Julia and Marije have now left Lesvos and Julia said the following on the day of their departure: “I've met so many incredible people. People with a big heart but with an even bigger heart for other humans. People who have sacrificed a great deal to help others and who are the most unselfish people I've ever met. We've shared laughter, tears, anger and HOPE… I'm leaving this place today, but this place will never leave me.”

I'm thankful, now, more than ever - for what I have here. For the life I've been granted (not earned) and for the safety and comfort of my own living and my dearest family. So the difficult aspect with returning, is to accept that you just left. You just left the people who need you. The cold and scared children, the traumatised mother, the grandfather who couldn't stop crying because he was sure he was going to die in the Aegean sea. You left them to return to your safe haven. Dreaming about these humans, who're not treated as humans, does something to you. You feel sad, frustrated, helpless, empty and angry.

I met so many incredible people during my trip to Lesvos, people who've bigger hearts for the humanity than I've ever encountered. People who care more about others than their own well being - in everything from doctors to bloggers - all with the same mission and the same heart for humanity. What a greatness!

I would never be the same without this trip. A trip that has made me stronger and more aware of what's happening in the world. This was certainly my first travel, but it's definitely not the last. I've never, in my life, done anything as meaningful as this. To help others who had everything - but lost all - to an unknown future, has given me more than a million light years.

Thanks to the many donations given, Julia and Marije left The Netherlands with a fundraising account of 6.000 euro. Amongst other things, they were able to buy juices, candy & toys for the arriving kids, cleaning material, and food ware to help clean an old vacation house, which the great volunteers at Hope Centre transformed into a refugee reception centre with rooms, a fireplace, and hot meals.

A special thank you to all of you who have supported us - you all got a BIG heart!”

Julia and Marije will be going on two more trips this year. The next trip will most likely be Idomeni, which is the border from Greece to Macedonia, where thousands of refugees are stranded due to the opening and closing of the borders leaving especially non-syrian refugees hopeless without proper shelter and no money.


You can help Julia and Marije!

If you want to help, please give a donation! The money will be used to buy products refugees need during our trip and it will also cover some of their travel expenses. They realised that these people need a lot of volunteers and they therefore will use some of the money to be able to travel and help on different locations.

The account details are:

NL59 RABO 1097 3212 90 attn. J.M. Soldic

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About the author

Hotelschool The Hague

Hotelschool The Hague was founded and funded in 1929 by the hospitality industry to create a central place where industry partners could gain and share new insight, skills and knowledge. Since its foundation, the Hotelschool has become an international school specialised in hospitality management offering a 4-year Bachelor's degree in Hotel and Hospitality Management. This degree course is also available as the accelerated International Fast Track programme. Our 13 month Master Hospitality Management programme is designed to deliver the next generation of hospitality innovators.

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