Be Aware And Share (BAAS)

I (Charly) am now part of the BAAS recruitment team, but I helped out at the Community Center in Ioannina for a few months myself and can therefore speak from my own experience. In general, the time on site was incredibly inspiring and instructive in various areas. First, being part of a close living and helping volunteer team has helped me practice communication, acceptance, and serenity. I have grown close with great and extremely different people who have shaped me through their thoughts, perspectives, and ways of life. After a short time in Ioannina, we were like family to each other, and are still in contact today. Furthermore, the direct insights into the structures and functioning of BAAS have been inspiring. The members are very reflective, open to critical questions and discussions, and willing to rethink structures. In general, great importance was attached to keeping hierarchies as flat as possible between the people in the team and also the visitors of the center. Through these insights, I was able to start deconstructing the norms of hierarchical, exclusionary, and power-based cultures of many institutions. One of the most formative aspects was the contact and exchange with the visitors of the center. During the months at BAAS, I got to know many great people who taught me a lot, from knitting and sewing to Afghan card games and cooking Somali food. In addition, I had to outgrow myself in some tasks, which allowed me to rediscover myself. Or would I have ever thought that I could cook for 50 people, teach different levels of English at the same time, develop an organization system for the creative studio, and (almost) win the table tennis tournament? And of course, I also learned about Greek history and culture. In Ioannina itself, but also in the nearby surroundings, you can discover many historical places like the House of Matei Hussein or the Ottoman Mosque of Veli Pasha. In addition, there are countless cafes, bars, art galleries, theaters, skate parks, and Greek restaurants in the city, where local music is played and danced to. The area is also known for outdoor climbing and beautiful nature. Moreover, through leisure activities such as participation in Zumba, pottery, or painting classes, and at the Community Center, I quickly came into contact with people from Ioannina, who showed me their view of the country.

«Be Aware And Share” (BAAS) was founded in September 2015 in Basel (CH). We are a non-profit and politically independent organization supporting people on the move. BAAS aims to contribute to a peaceful and mutually inclusive society through an integrity-based approach. Our work is transparently funded and supported by donations. Since the summer of 2022, we have been running a Community Center in Ioannina, a small city located in the northwest of Greece and the capital of the administrative region Epirus. Our center is a meeting place for the refugees from the city and the nearby camps (Katsikas, Agia Eleni, and Filippiada), but also for the local population. The project aims to provide a safe space and to give access to legal advice, psychological help, language courses, IT lessons, and, above all, social and creative activities. In general, the work at the Community Center is very varied. We have some tasks that every volunteer is expected to do from time to time and some specific positions that are tailored to your individual strengths, interests, and wishes. During your participation in our project in Ioannina, you will live with 4-6 other volunteers in accommodation provided by BAAS. The house is located in the center of Ioannina and is two minutes walk from the lake. It includes a common room with a kitchen, a small courtyard, two bathrooms, and two bedrooms. In general, the level of privacy and material comfort in the shared apartment is probably below what you are used to at home, which requires tolerance and respect. At the same time, it is very enriching to live with other people and to spend the evenings after work cooking, playing games, discussing, watching movies, dancing, making music, knitting (and much more) together.

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