A fellow volunteer, Ana, treated Tom and I to a tour the other day. She’s been here two months longer than us, and will leave shortly to head back to the US. It wasn’t a tour of tourist sites or good places to eat and drink though. This was a tour of the wholesale and cheap shops of Athens.
Often volunteers’ knowledge is lost when they go, leaving others who come in their place to work things out from scratch. This problem is solved, in part, by Facebook – where a community of volunteers share information and offer advice and support on topics ranging from an incredibly complex asylum process to public transport and accommodation. That’s a resource we can’t do without, but nothing beats a proper handover.
Shopping is not necessarily what everyone imagines when picturing volunteering here. It’s definitely not the image I had in mind before we arrived. But the squats, camps and many other projects here in Athens rely heavily on donated items. Whilst there’s a warehouse stuffed full of boxes of useful things on the outskirts of town, the process to get hold of this can take time. One of the most helpful ways we can ‘volunteer’ is to respond to requests for donations ourselves when they’re needed. It also gives a little, needed boost to the Greek economy along the way.
Now (thank you so much, Ana!), rather than heading to Lidl and one of the worst shops in the world – Jumbo, where terrible music meets an incomprehensible layout that makes it impossible to find either what you need or the exit – we’ve been on some more interesting shopping trips.
Tom and I have bought so much underwear from a wholesaler that we were asked if we were opening a shop. We’ve negotiated a good price on 60 plates, 60 glasses and 60 mugs. And we’ve become prized customers at a vegetable stall – to the point of being given free fruit.
We’ve only been able to do this thanks to generous donations to our fund. We never thought our total raised would surpass £2,000 so quickly! You can see here on our site what we’ve spent your money on so far.
If anyone else wants to donate to keep us in the bulk shopping business for longer, we’d be really grateful. Remember: our money’s unfortunately worth less in Euros right now. Our suggested solution: give a bit more! 🙂