I came to Greece alone, mainly because I wanted to educate myself on the refugee issue – it was difficult for me to understand that this crisis is happening at Europe’s doors, in a country so close to mine and I felt a strong need to get involved.

My name is Anca Gliga, I am from Romania and my work background is in education for development, particularly peace education

My family, boyfriend and friends were slightly skeptical of my choice, being worried for my safety and for the heaviness of the situation that I would have to face. I experienced a beautiful transformation in my parents’ attitude, who switched from a fear-inducing perception from media reports to being empathic to the refugees – I believe it was because of the stories I shared with them. As for my work in Greece, I was fortunate enough to come across an open call of Lighthouse Relief, where I work as Programme Officer. I got the chance to work both on the islands and at the Greek-Macedonian border. I believe my experience in Greece became much more meaningful by working with the inspiring young people at Lighthouse, for whom I have a lot of admiration.

Many things will stay with me after this extremely intense experience –  the faces of refugees I came across in some very challenging times for them, late nights rushing to the boats arriving on the shores of Lesvos, the children that should be in school but are playing in parking lots or in the mud at the Greek-Macedonian border for weeks in a row instead,

the heaviness and exhaustion after long shifts, a little child arriving to the registration site on Lesvos in shock and hypothermia, young men happy to have made it alive across water, the sadness in my male colleague’s eyes when he heard that a woman with a child had been repeatedly raped on her way from Syria, the selflessness of both volunteers and refugees, the force of young volunteers, the numbness in a father’s gaze when he heard there would be no bed available for his son in the camp, the confusion and mistrust that the lack of information creates, a woman smoking a shisha that she had brought all the way from Syria in front of a tent in an abandoned railway station…  a 7 year old refugee girl that always took extra food from the deliveries so she can share it with me, and many other snapshots that will stay with me for a long time and that have touched and shaped me as a human being in ways I still have to grasp.