Vanessa Schröter war diesen Winter sechs Monate lang als engagierte Volunteer im Bashira Centre. Vanessa ist Schweizerin, arbeitet jedoch seit vielen Jahren in verschiedenen humanitären Projekten im Ausland. Durch eine Freundin wurde sie auf SAO aufmerksam und war sofort begeistert, das SAO-Team vor Ort in Bashira zu unterstützen.
Ihre Verbundenheit und Liebe zu den Frauen zeigt sich in den drei Blogposts, in welchen sie ihre persönlichen Erfahrungen im Frauenhaus auf Lesbos beschreibt.
Vanessa describes her first days days as a Volunteer in Bashira . . .
"Friday, the 3rd December. The digital clock on my phone said 9.30. It was the first meeting of the Bashira group I would join and I was nervous but also super excited. I sat down next to the other volunteers I met the night before and tried to suck in every description and information discussed. I had no clue about what is going on. Luckily, our supervisor turned to me saying I would not have to worry if I could not make sense of their conversation. She would fill me in later.
After a lively introduction to SAO Association in the office, I was then allowed to set foot into the women center. After a few stairs I ended up in a vintage Greek house with the charm of an aging cottage, full of colors, squeaking floors, and an old heating. I wandered into each room, trying to help my colleagues to arrange utensils, carpets, and cushions.
‘Salam, chubi?, Chuba’; Welcome, how are you?, I am fine’ in Farsi were the first words I heard when women entered Bashira and the community became alive. Laughter, chatter, hugs and kisses were shared. I was baffled, how would I win those beautiful creatures’ hearts and become part of this community?
I started with handing out biscuits and fruits to make first contact and to say hello. Well, I cannot speak any Farsi or Arabic, and my French was still terrible when I graduated high school ten years ago. I scratched together what was left of it and offered French-speaking African women an apple or an orange. They smiled patiently and answered with multiple sentences that sounded anything but my very French school teacher. I starred back totally confused and pointed at the fruits. The first few hours passed by this way and I came to know that; sugar is the main ingredients for tea or coffee in Bashira, about 4 spoons in a tiny glass. Their sweet habit became my first connection; we made jokes about the actual taste of the tea or coffee and grinned about the toothache I simulated.
My next job was to count all the underwear in the center for coming distribution days on Christmas. I had six boxes of pants and bras of different material, sizes and cuts in front of me. From Beldona lingerie to the worst Chinese underwear you can imagine. You could pull the panties up till your bellybutton so you looked like the cheapest Baywatch star. My essay writing and research skills did not matter at all today. Uni had not prepared me for hundreds of panties. Anyway, I started to rummage through the cartons, grumbling and wondering what would come next?? Haha."
If you would also like to volunteer at the Bashira or Amina Centre please visit our volunteer site or become a SAO member.