Supporting Abandoned/At-Risk Children on Chios
This is a month-long experience volunteering with abandoned and at-risk children in a structured environment and in partnership with a respected Greek non-profit organization. Our goal is to support such children on the island of Chios through recreational and educational activities between July 1 – August 2, 2020.
Scholarships will be offered for this program for participants with financial need that will cover lodging, program expenses including excursions, transportation within Chios and some meals.
Alternatively, if no financial need exists, applicants can opt to purchase the package after they have been accepted.
We are seeking volunteers ages 18-25. Volunteers do not need to be currently enrolled in college, nor in possession of a college degree. See below for the full program details.
Partner & Location
Our program partner is Kivotos Tou Kosmou (Ark of the World), an Athens-based non-profit founded in 1997 that provides shelter for abandoned children in various locations throughout Greece. Kivotos currently cares for upwards of 1,000 children — infants to 18 years old — and although the vast majority are Greek, the organization welcomes children from all backgrounds. Ark strives to relieve these children of poverty, hunger, illnesses, misery, exploitation and illiteracy. The organization also focuses on keeping families together and, when possible, not institutionalizing children and instead keeping them with their mothers.
Our volunteer group will work at Kivotos’ facility on the Greek island of Chios. The Greek America Foundation team will assist Kivotos’ staff to organize recreational and educational activities for the children under the organization’s care and support the staff.
Program Dates & Description
This program begins on July 1, 2020 with an informal arrival, registration and check-in at the hotel. Program participants MUST be on Chios on July 1 without exception. The program will conclude on August 2. Participants should plan to depart Chios on that day, or make arrangements to stay on their own expense. Our program will begin with orientation on July 2.
Volunteers will work closely with Kivotos staff and under their supervision. Our volunteer location will be Kivotos’ shelter outside of Chios town, as well as public recreational and cultural facilities (beaches, parks, sports fields, museums and cultural sites).
Ordinarily, volunteers will work weekdays for 4-6 hours per day with the children and the Kivotos staff. Our volunteers will provide education, enrichment and friendship through arts, cultural, recreational and skills-based activities. Volunteers may also be asked to support the Kivotos team with basic administrative and maintenance projects such as meal planning and preparation, cleaning and beautification of common spaces and routine child care needs.
We have planned weekend excursions to the beaches, villages, museums and sites of Chios, as well as an excursion to Smyrna, Turkey, where participants will have the opportunity to experience and learn the rich history of this city.
Our group will be led by an experienced team leader from the Greek America Foundation. There will be group activities such as meals, regular team meetings and social gatherings.
College credit for participation is available for an extra fee and is granted by the Hellenic American University (see below).
Airfare to Greece from the U.S. or Canada is not included. Participants will be asked to cover their own transportation to Chios. Greek America Foundation staff can help with international and domestic travel arrangements, as well as domestic air or ferry details.
Lodging in Chios is provided from July 1, 2020 (check-in) to August 2, 2020 (check out) in shared rooms at a clean, 3-star hotel in Chios town. Laundry facilities will be available on site at an additional cost.
Breakfast is included daily, as are some shared meals throughout the program. Participants should budget about 80 Euros per week for extra meals.
Transportation on the island of Chios to and from volunteer locations is included. Transportation will be provided for non-walkable volunteer locations and excursions.
All excursions on weekends and other special activities in Chios and Smyrna are included.
The Greek America Foundation will purchase travel medical insurance to cover emergency and routine medical needs only for the dates of the program. Please make sure to hold your own health insurance policy as well and check whether coverage is available abroad.
On-site staff will be available 24/7 to support volunteers.
If financial need exists, you may opt for a full scholarship covering all program fees mentioned above. (Airfare to Greece is not covered by scholarship funds). You can also opt to pay for the program if no financial need exists. The cost for participation is $3499.00 — plus airfare to Greece and your personal expenses, as outlined above.
Desired Qualities in a Volunteer
Our volunteer work with Kivotos is rewarding in the best sense — you give of yourself and get more back than you gave. Being able to offer disadvantaged children the gifts of friendship, support, joy and visibility is exhilarating.
The Greek America Foundation seeks volunteers who are able to handle quickly changing environments, encountering people from different cultures and sharing viewpoints and the emotional ups and downs that come with working in challenging conditions. Our volunteer work may at times be physically demanding: summer temperatures in Greece can reach 100 degrees and we will be outside at times engaging in physical activity. Please note that we will always be mindful of putting everyone’s health first during hot weather.
Staff from the Greek America Foundation and Kivotos will be on hand at all times. We encourage all volunteers to take down time, practice self-care and use their own coping strategies while engaged in this work. Having strong boundaries, knowing your limits and when to take a break are important skills while volunteering.
Earn College Credit
For an additional fee of $840 USD, participants have the option to accrue college credit that can be applied to their studies at their home institution via our partnership with the Hellenic American University, a U.S.-accredited institution of higher education in Athens. Students are responsible for checking with their home institutions about transfer of credits. A counselor at Hellenic American University will be made available to assist, as will a curriculum and coursework. Please mention in your application if you wish to receive this credit.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’d like to attend another program/conference/family celebration. Can I join the program late or leave at any time?
Participants are expected to be present for the duration of the program as detailed above and not attend other events.
Can I have visitors during my month of volunteering in Chios?
Visitors are permitted but may not participate in the official volunteer program or excursions, which are exclusively reserved for volunteers. If a friend or family members would like to visit, such visits must take place on evenings and/or during non-volunteer hours.
What’s a typical day like?
Typical days entail breakfast; 4-6 hours of volunteering (with lunch break) at the Kivotos facility and returning to the hotel in the late afternoon. Group meetings will also take place when appropriate. Please note that the schedule may deviate from day-to-day based on the needs and schedule of Kivotos’ staff and children. Volunteers will often have evenings free to explore Chios town, but occasional group activities will be scheduled.
Is it safe to be in Chios?
The Greek America Foundation vets all volunteer locations for safety and suitability for our volunteers. Likewise, NGO partners are also vetted for accountability and ability to handle our volunteer group. Chios town and the island are generally quite safe locations in Greece. Reasonable precautions will be taken to ensure safety at all times. Volunteers will receive safety training and guidance on behavior best practices for a variety of contexts.
Do I need to speak Greek to participate?
English and Greek will be the main languages spoken in the volunteer program. Basic conversational Greek skills are a plus, although not required. Interpreters will be available at times.
DEADLINE: March 7, 2020 @ 11:59 PM EST
Applicants that have been accepted into the program will be notified on a rolling basis beginning on February 14. All applicants will be notified by March 27 at the latest.
Why this program?
Children are the unseen victims of a crippling economic crisis that crippled Greece for more than a decade– abandoned by families than can not afford to take care of them because of a crisis that began before many were even born.
For generations, most abandoned babies and neglected children came from battered neighborhoods, abusive parents and drug-infested homes. They still do so today, only now the scope of the problem, the severity of the cases, and the lack of social services have been amplified by austerity and growing middle-class poverty.
By 2014 the number of abandoned infants had soared by 336 percent alone in pediatric hospital since the start of the financial crisis and numerous charities like Kivotos Tou Kosmou are stepping up to welcome such children into their care.
This program will allow volunteers to be in direct contact with some of the vulnerable children in Greece, which have been abandoned or have come from broken homes or abusive families.