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How Volleyball Changes the Mindset of Many Living in a Refugee Camp


Hélène is one of our volunteers at our volleyball for refugees project in Katsikas, Greece. She is originally from Barcelona, Spain, and has just finished her degree. She has done volunteering before in the same camp a few years ago and now she is volunteering there for Let's Keep The Ball Flying.

Initially, she was planning to go travel for a few months until she found LKTBF through Instagram and instantly connected with our team. She knew once she arrived there, that she would need to come back after her travels.

"I feel like this is the right place for me to be."

Difficult Circumstances of Living in a Refugee Camp

The capacity for the camp currently stands at 1200 where there are currently 800-900 refugees. Due to the political situation in Greece, many of the people cannot be transferred to different camps such as this one.

A lot of the refugees are waiting for their passports. One would think that people are happy when they get their papers. For many, that is often not the case. The most shocking part is that many of the people must leave behind their families in the camps because they have to move within three days after receiving their passport. Many don't have the financial resources and support of their families to provide for themselves and their livelihood.

"Receiving a passport, is not always a positive thing. That shocked me."

Photo of Payman and Hélène

Payman is 22 years old and has recently received his passport. He has two younger siblings, 15 and 17 years old but had to leave them behind in the refugee camp. He and his other eight siblings who also received their documents now live in the city.

However, the two younger siblings cannot receive their passports because their father remains in Iraq, so he cannot sign the documents as their guardian. Their options are limited. Either the siblings wait until they turn 18 or wait for their father to arrive at the camp in Katsikas which is very difficult at the moment.

"We prefer living in the camp, in the city it is very difficult and we are alone."

Although living in a house in the city in Ioannina may be more hygienic yet many say that it is too far away from everybody. Some of the people can bike to the training from Let's Keep The Ball Flying or take the bus.

However, the bus line is often quite expensive which makes it very difficult for people to travel to the location. The people that do commit to coming to the camp in Katsikas are always enthusiastic to play and have fun.

How Volleyball Makes an Impact

Hélène and Guus (who coordinates the LKTBF programs for Greece) are currently giving coach courses to some of the individuals in the camp. Through the courses, they hope to educate more players and focus on the idea of getting good training sessions to develop their skill sets. Through Volleyball many can learn a lot about themselves and their potential. These lessons can be applied through their daily life.

Many of the people that had to leave say, "I don't want to leave. This is my family and community." The community that is built through volleyball makes such a difference in people's life. Many don't want to leave because of the connection people have built through Volleyball.

Hélène said that Volleyball is the only sport where people actively ask for the genders to be mixed. Due to cultural differences, some other sports don't allow for this. Volleyball is a place to allow everybody to have a chance at equality.

"Volleyball is the moment where the camp moves towards us and people want to be involved"

They hope to play at two locations in the future so that it is more accessible and people in the city are also able to join to play Volleyball. In the pictures above, the players are wearing donated jerseys from clubs in Germany and The Netherlands through our Happiness Project.

Would you like to know more information about our volleyball 4 refugees projects in Greece? Check out our special project page, or join our Dreamteam community to help out and start building your own social impact legacy.

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