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GAC 2020 Supporting Unaccompanied Refugee Minors on Chios

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Supporting Unaccompanied Refugee Minors on Chios



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Program Overview

This is a month-long experience volunteering with refugee children in a structured environment and in partnership with a respected Greek non-profit organization. Our goal is to support refugee 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

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Our program partner is METAdrasi, a Greek non-profit founded in 2010 that helps facilitate the reception and integration of refugees and immigrants in Greece. It is focused on services not covered by the public authorities or other non-governmental organizations in Greece. METAdrasi operates mainly in two sectors: interpretation services and the protection of unaccompanied children.

Our volunteer group will work at METAdrasi’s two facilities in Chios: a non-formal educational center for children living in the refugee camp and a shelter in town. The Greek America Foundation team will assist the METAdrasi teachers, caregivers and psychologists in organizing recreational and educational activities for the refugee children under the organization’s care.

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 an orientation on July 2. Participants will learn about the current state of the refugee crisis in Greece; the detention, asylum and integration conditions for refugees in Greece and Europe; the day-to-day reality of refugees in Greece; the particular needs of refugee children; and best practices for working with refugee children. Over the course of the program, we will also learn about the history of Chios.

Volunteers will work closely with METAdrasi staff and under their supervision. Our volunteer locations will be METAdrasi’s shelter in Chios town as well as public recreational and cultural facilities (beaches, parks, sports fields, museums and cultural sites). A designated team of volunteers with an interest in education will also teach basic lessons in English, mathematics and similar subjects at METAdrasi’s informal education center outside VIAL refugee camp.

Ordinarily, volunteers will work weekdays for 4-6 hours per day with the children and the METAdrasi 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 METAdrasi 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).


Program Specifics

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.

Scholarship/Program Fees

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 METAdrasi is rewarding in the best sense — you give of yourself and get more back than you gave. Confronting the systemic effects of global conflict, inequality and displacement by looking into the eyes of a refugee child is a difficult and sobering experience. Being able to offer that child 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 METAdrasi 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) either at METAdrasi’s shelter or VIAL informal education center; and returning to the hotel in the late afternoon. Group meetings will also take place when appropriate. Please note that the schedule often deviates from day-to-day based on the needs and schedule of METAdrasi’s 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. Volunteers will only visit the VIAL refugee camp under supervision and when safe to do so.

Do I need to speak Greek to participate?

English and Greek will be the main languages spoken in the volunteer program. Knowledge of Greek is not required. The children we work with come from many different countries and backgrounds. Some of them speak limited English, however their main languages are Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and French. Knowledge of these languages is a definite plus for our volunteers, but not necessary. 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?

A message from Gregory C. Pappas, Founder & President

Greece’s position as one of the chosen transit points for western-bound refugees and economic migrants coming from Africa and the Middle East has also led to a massive number of unaccompanied refugee minors.

Currently, there are more than 32,000 refugee and migrant children in Greece, including more than 4,000 who are unaccompanied and separated.

An unaccompanied refugee minor is a child, seventeen years old or under who is in Greece alone, with no immediate family.

Unaccompanied minors are amongst the country’s most vulnerable population groups and urgent attention is necessary to tend to their physical, psychological and emotional well-being.

Our volunteers provide badly-needed support to the local partner that is working alongside these children.