NGOs on Lesvos with Map
Map of Lesvos
Refugee Camps on Lesvos
Moria: 8.5 km north of the Mytilene, the capital Kara Tepe: 5 km. south of Moria Pikpa: 2.2 km south of Mytilene
- The following organizations have offices in Mytilene, the capital: HIAS, Drop in the Ocean, Mosaic.
- Light without Borders is located in a secure office on the perimeter of Moria Camp. Refugee for Refugees operates a warehouse near Moria Camp.
- One Happy Family Community Center is located 4.9 km. north of Mytilene, a 10-minute walk from Kara Tepe camp. Doc Mobile and Sport for Refugees offer refugee support and activities at this center.
- Lesvos Solidarity manages Pikpa camp.
- Starfish Foundation is headquartered on the northern coast of the island in Molyvos but much of the work that a volunteer would be doing will take place in Mitilene.
Summary of NGOs’ requested time commitments
10 days minimum
There are three NGOs that accept volunteers for a minimum of 10 days. They are A Drop in the Ocean, Showers for Sisters and Refugee for Refugees. Volunteers interested in short term volunteer assignments can submit their applications on line for these positions.
1 month minimum
Sport for Refugees requires a one-month commitment and is interested in flexible RPCVs with an interest in sports. Volunteers can submit their applications on line.
HIAS also requires a one-month commitment but prefers a volunteer that can stay longer. They do not have an on-line process and they are looking for a specific skill set.
Light without Borders will accept an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist for one month but prefers longer for the other positions. There is no on-line application process. Interested individuals will need to send a resume to the organization.
2 months minimum, preferably 3 months
One Happy Family, Lesvos Solidarity, Doc Mobile and Light Without Borders will accept volunteers for two months but their preference is for volunteers that can stay for 3 months. One Happy Family and Lesvos Solidarity both have online applications. The other two require a cover letter and resume be sent to their email addresses.
A Drop in the Ocean is also seeking volunteers with a longer time frame for positions on the management team. Assistance with housing is a possibility for people that stay for a longer period.
3 months minimum
Starfish Foundation requests a volunteer with special skills. Interested individuals must send a letter of interest which includes a commitment to 3 months of service and a resume to the Founder and Director of the organization.
NGO Descriptions, Volunteer Requests & Application Process
Contact: Melinda McCrostie-Kosmetou, Director and Founder
Overview: The aim of Starfish Foundation is to provide practical assistance to vulnerable people on Lesvos, both refugees and local Greeks. One of the newest of Starfish’s many projects is called OpenSpace, a versatile program, aimed at integrating locals and refugees. It supports seminars, presentations, meetings, web conferences, workshops and recurring classes for both refugees and locals. Starfish also manages NeedsHub which is a web-based platform created to improve the flow of refugee aid to where it’s needed most on Lesvos.
Volunteer Request: Starfish is seeking a volunteer to manage and advertise OpenSpace. They require someone with database management and development skills; knowledge and experience using social media, particularly for marketing; web development and maintenance; excellent communication skills; and able to work well with people. The position is based in Mytilene and includes attending refugee coordination meetings, collecting information at the meetings and keeping the NeedsHub platform and the team up to date. There are no language requirements other than English. Starfish requires a 3-month commitment. All living expenses need to be covered by the volunteer.
Application Process: Interested volunteers should send a letter of interest which includes a commitment to 3 months of service and a resume to Melinda McRostie, Director of the organization at the email address above.
Contact: Project Coordinator (email@example.com)
Overview: HIAS is a nonprofit refugee protection organization headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland. It was founded in 1881, originally to assist Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe. It now welcomes anyone who is fleeing persecution. HIAS provides an array of services internationally. In Greece they are providing legal services.
Volunteer request: HIAS is in need of a French, Arabic or Farsi Interpreter with experience in fundraising and proposal writing. Preference is for a female as they currently have only male interpreters and it’s sometimes difficult for them to work with female asylum seekers without a female to assist. The majority of the work will be fundraising but the interpretation skills are needed to provide coverage for the interpreters when one of them is ill or takes vacation. HIAS requires a one-month commitment but prefers a longer one.
Application Process: If interested in this position, please send a cover letter which includes how long you are willing to stay and a resume to the Project Coordinator at the above email address.
A DROP IN THE OCEAN
Contact: Head of Operations: (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Overview: Volunteers with A Drop in the Ocean distribute food, clothes and non-food items to refugees in Lesvos. They plan and organize activities for children and adults in the camps and assist in teaching English and developing material and logistical support for bilingual education. They are also active in spotting boats and assisting refugees on arrival. The organization was established to offer volunteer opportunities for people who have short time frames to volunteer.
Volunteer Requests: Volunteers with a short time frame for volunteering (minimum of 10 days) are needed in the distribution of food, clothing, etc. They also serve as boat spotters. Volunteers with a longer timeframe are needed for positions such as Volunteer Coordinator and Logistics Coordinator. Assistance with housing is a possibility for people that stay for a longer period (2-3 months). Volunteers must arrive in Mytilene to begin orientation and training on a Monday or a Thursday. Volunteers cannot begin working until they have completed the training. It is recommended that volunteers arrive in the area the evening before the introductory training. Fluency in English is required.
Application Process: Job descriptions for the volunteer opportunities and a process for applying for both short and long-term volunteer positions can be found on the website.
REFUGEE FOR REFUGEES
Overview: The Director of Refugee for Refugees, Omar Alshakal, fled Syria in 2014 after ISIS took control of his hometown and he was severely injured in a missile strike. He started Refugee4Refugees to improve safety and support for other asylum seekers who have followed his journey. The non-political foundation responds to refugees in need of help as they enter EU waters and supports them upon and after their arrival. Their support includes boat spotting and boat landings, clothing and supply distribution and provides a safe environment at a community center for refugees.
Volunteer Requests: The staff is comprised of a Volunteer Coordinator, an Assistant to the Coordinator and a Director of Fundraising, all of whom are volunteers. The organization seeks to have 11-12 volunteers, including these three positions, assisting the organization on an ongoing basis. In the summer volunteers focus on spotting and boat landings, swimming classes and beach cleanings. The rest of the year, volunteers organize and distribute clothing and supplies and respond to various needs requested by other organizations. Volunteers interested in applying need to be in good physical shape, able to stand all day and lift cartons of clothes. They are also in need of a Volunteer Coordinator which requires a 3 month commitment. There are no language requirements other than English.
Application Process: Volunteers must be able to work a minimum of 10 days for general volunteer support and 3 months for the Volunteer Coordinator position. Position descriptions are outlined on the website and there is a link to follow in order to submit an application.
SPORT FOR REFUGEES
Overview: The aim of Sport for Refugees is to encourage sport activities to facilitate the development of healthy, empowered individuals. The organization seeks to raise awareness of the power of sports to help people come together and to assist their integration into the local communities. They offer swimming classes, yoga, fitness, Thai boxing and other sports that don’t require a lot of equipment. Sport for Refugees relies on several volunteers at various times throughout the year to lead the sports activities.
- Volunteer Coordinator: Requirements include: good communication skills, organizational skills, interest in sports and able to develop and market sports classes
- Project Manager: Social media experience, website development and management experience
- Fundraiser: Experience fundraising, applying for grants, developing materials and supporting volunteers to fund raise when they return home.
There are no required language skills other than English but French, Dari and Arabic speakers would be helpful.
Application Process: Complete the application form on the website: https://www.sportforrefugees.org/volunteer/
Volunteers must be able to work a minimum of 4 weeks. Volunteers cover their own living expenses. A room in a shared house of volunteers is approximately $300/month.
ONE HAPPY FAMILY
Overview: One Happy Family is a community center on Lesvos. It serves the refugee population awaiting asylum, many of whom have been on the island for more than a year. The center welcomes several hundred people every day. It is constantly adding new projects that are developed by the refugees themselves and the international volunteers who work there. Some of the services at the center include a café, a shisha lounge, a tailor, a barber, and a shop or boutique. Lunch is offered to all visitors at no cost, there is a movie room, an education center, a garden, a gym with yoga and martial arts classes, a library, a medical center, a playground. Descriptions of these projects can be found on the website.
There are a wide range of support activities in which volunteers become involved and they change regularly based on need. Position descriptions for volunteer opportunities can be found at: https://www.ohf-lesvos.org/en/volunteering. Applicants click on the time frame that works for them and read the position descriptions available for that time frame. Volunteers must be able to work a minimum of 3 weeks.
Application Process: There is a volunteer information sheet on the website and an on-line application process.
Overview: Lesvos Solidarity, known as “PIKPA camp”, is an open refugee camp in Myetlini, Lesvos, providing humanitarian support to the most vulnerable refugees including families with children, pregnant women, refugees with disabilities, refugees who suffer from serious medical conditions and victims of shipwrecks who lost loved ones at sea. LS offers on-site medical care, psycho-social assistance, legal support, food, clothes and hygiene kits and also provides referrals for medical care off site (such as in hospitals, private clinics, etc.). The organization also runs activities for children, language classes, and social support.
The main objective of Lesvos Solidarity is to stand in solidarity with the refugees and people in need through shelter, protection and awareness-raising on the basis of principles of solidarity, respect for human life, non-discrimination, non-violence and volunteerism.
Volunteer Requests: There is a list of vacant volunteer positions on the website at: https://lesvossolidarity.org/en/who-we-are/volunteers-and-team
- Food distribution and clothing distribution to residents
- Activities for children and adults
- Language lessons for children and adults (English and Greek)
Arabic, Farsi and Urdu language skills are highly appreciated but not required.
Application Process: Volunteers must be able to work for a minimum of 2 months. Interested applicants must submit a letter of interest and resume to Maria, Volunteer Coordinator at: email@example.com.
Contact: Rosalie Kiela, DocMobile-Lesvos Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
Overview: Docmobile runs a small medical clinic housed on the grounds of One Happy Family Community Center. It is staffed by two RNs and several volunteers. There are two private offices and one exam room where patients can be examined and provided with first aid and treatment or referred to a local Greek doctor.
Volunteer Requests: Docmobile has requested an RN and or MD with experience working in resource poor situations. A French-speaking medical professional would be ideal since many of the patients are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. An additional request is for a French-speaking interpreter to work side by side with the medical team. Volunteers must commit to a minimum of one month and preferably 3 months.
Application Process: Volunteers with the appropriate skills and experience should send a letter of intent which includes a rationale for wanting to volunteer and the amount of time you are committed to volunteering along with a resume to Rosalie at email@example.com
LIGHT WITHOUT BORDERS
Contact: Luz De Jade Carmona, Founder and Director of Light Without Borders
Overview: The mission of Light without Borders is to provide ophthalmology treatment to locals and refugees who are without resources and to provide emotional support to rescue teams and aid volunteers. The website provides a comprehensive description of the work of the organization.
Volunteer Requests: In addition to an eye care specialist (optometrist or ophthalmologist) the organization is seeking a volunteer with social media experience and someone that can improve the website and take responsibility for adding content. There is also a need for an office manager/coordinator, to coordinate the activities of the organization. This requires an individual with strong organizational skills and good people skills. They must also be strong emotionally as working in the camp can be draining. Volunteers must commit to a minimum of one month but preferably 3 months. Ideally, volunteers that apply for the positions described above would speak either French or Arabic though these are not requirements for the job.
Application Process: Volunteers with the appropriate skills and experience should send a letter of intent which includes their rationale for wanting to volunteer and the amount of time they are able to stay along with a resume to Luz at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Ulli Mattsson, Project Manager at email@example.com
Formerly known as Showers for Sisters, Becky’s Bathhouse has a mission to provide a safe, separate shower facility for women and children. Water and sanitation facilities in the main camp of Moria are insufficient to meet the needs of the over 5000 people that reside there. Becky's Bathhouse (BBH) offers a safe space for women and their children to shower without fear. They serve 20-30 women and children per day. There is a lounge for the women to sit and have tea and space for the children to play. It serves both physical and psycho-social needs. Next door to the showers is a large room that is used as an osteopathic clinic and other manual therapies. BBH provides transportation to and from Moria camp for the women and children. They also work closely with other NGO's who refer patients to them who need a shower or osteopathy as part of their treatment plan.
Volunteer Requests: BBH is in need of volunteers for a variety of tasks. Short term volunteers (minimum of 10 days) are engaged in welcoming women and children to the facility, playing with the children, cleaning the showers, and other tasks as needed. Longer term volunteers able to stay two to three months coordinate transport to and from Moria camp, organize volunteers, offer activities. Ideally, volunteers would have an International Drivers’ License which can be obtained through AAA and be able to drive a manual car. This is not required but preferred. In addition, two long term volunteers (2 – 3 mos.) are needed for different coordinator roles. Knowledge of Arabic, Farsi or French is preferred but not required. Fluent English is required.
Application Process: Volunteers with the skills and experience to do the jobs described above should send a letter of intent which includes their rationale for wanting to volunteer and the amount of time they expect to stay, a records background check from the local police and a resume to Ulli at: firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a volunteer apartment available with shared bedrooms, for 10 Euros/night for a bed. The flat is a traditional Greek apartment above a bakery about 10 min walk from the centre of Mytelini. We recommend that you stay with us; we are working hard to create a strong team and value team spirit. We are maximum four people staying in one room and the coordinator volunteers that stay longer may be eligible to receive a reduction in rent and/or a separate room if funds and a separate room are available. Transportation to and from the showers is available daily.
NGOs on Lesvos that have good reputations but were not visited by PCC4Refugees volunteers
The following NGOs were highly recommended by sources that have been working with the refugee aid community since 2015. Their websites provide information about their needs and include a volunteer application form.
Lighthouse Relief: www.lighthouserelief.org
Mission: to provide a dignified, respectful and empowering humanitarian response to refugees, with a focus on supporting vulnerable groups like women, children and youth.
Save, Assist, Outreach (SAO)
Mission: to support displaced women after their arrival in Europe by helping them to take their fate back into their own hands
Application process: send an email and a short CV which describes your background and experience along with a cover letter that includes your motivation and the dates you are interested in working to:
Contact information for Program Manager: Sonia Andreu Barradas, Manager Bashira Centre Lesvos Sonia@sao.ngo