For most people the word “vacation” means spending long hours on the beach under the shining sun, entertaining at a club on a fashionable island in the evening, or letting the “all inclusive” of a convenient hotel near the beach spoil you. But there are other people who prefer to spend their holiday traveling under a volunteer program and caring for seals, turtles, for the residents of a slum in Rio de Janeiro or build a school in Ghana in the summer. People who have participated in such programs say that offering their services makes them broad-minded, acquaints them with people from around the world and gains them a lot of interesting experiences.
“More than 200 Greeks depart as volunteers abroad for two or three weeks each year. Many are so inspired that then they spend their holidays elsewhere, again through the volunteer programs,”says Dora Buyuka of Eliks NGO in an interview for Vima newspaper. “Eliks” is the link with other 3000 programs for volunteers worldwide. Greeks are worried if the voluntary work is is physically exhausting or is associated with mental fatigue, so to make their holiday black with unpleasant memories. But they say all of them are useful when they are volunteers, even if they can not stand certain things physically or emotionally. Therefore, there is a form the candidate completes in advance, canceling the jobs he does not want to be involved in.
“I spent an amazing vacation while working as a volunteer at the Health Center of Lefkada, when I was fourth-year student in medicine. The program was organized by the Scientific company for medical students in Greece. I had a small room, where the Health Center accommodated me and I worked as an assistant in the morning. I traveled throughout the island in the afternoons, meeting different people without feeling like a tourist,” said Apostolos Hadzitomaris.
“I went to Mexico for three weeks in 2008 through a program for volunteers to build a school in Tsyapa, and in 2009 spent the summer in Ghana, where I worked in a private kindergarten. I learned more about myself through the voluntary programs. What happened to me made me see the world and know myself, my dreams, even my stereotypes,” says Vicky Kotsiori.
“Being a volunteer does not mean working against your will, but on the contrary - this is a great way to spend your vacation with little money and getting to know new people. I was in Sifnos in the summer of 2006. There I organized various activities related to environmen protection, such as cleaning beaches, handing flyers to local people and tourists and I remember it very well because of the incredible places, new friends and the jokes. You turn the work into a game, but the best thing was that people thanked us ...” says Fivos Tsumbos.
If you want to join any program, you can visit: