A visiting volunteer story: Syaiful Iylia


Meet Syaiful lylia, one of our visiting volunteers. Syaiful had come all the way from Singapore to Greece earlier this year, to join the Movement On The Ground team on Lesvos.

He was totally aware of the Covid-19 pandemic situation back then, but was determined to help. He was further encouraged by his friend Ben who was working with us at the time.

We were very fortunate to have Syaiful a part of our MOTG family, so we decided to catch-up with him to learn more about his story.

"Providing assistance in the spirit of selfless service was something that I hold close to my heart"

1. How did you find out about Movement On The Ground and why were you compelled to join our team?

I found out about Movement On The Ground through a friend who was volunteering on Lesvos earlier this year. I loved the nature of your work; providing necessary infrastructure and assistance to the refugee community in Moria and Kara Tepe. I was looking for an opportunity to volunteer overseas to help refugees, as thus far I had only volunteered in my local community. 

2. You're originally from Singapore. Why travel to Greece and support the situation there? What is the connection for you?

Although seemingly distant, I felt that humanitarian aid is something that anyone in the world must be doing, as long as they can. All human beings are the same, after all. I was aware of the refugee crisis in Europe through various news articles I had read over the years. I felt that going to Greece was a relatively safe option given the current circumstances. Providing assistance in the spirit of selfless service was something that I hold close to my heart. I felt that given my privileged position I could render some help to those in less fortunate situations that I am.  

3. What have been your first impressions of Moria camp and the Olive Groves?

Before visiting the camp, I tried to mentally prepare myself to witness in person what I had seen in pictures on the internet. Though being on the ground was a completely different experience. I had noticed a stark difference between the Olive Groves that Movement On The Ground had worked on and the other zones. I was thus extremely impressed and touched by the relative order in the zones that Movement On The Ground helped administer. 

4. How do you feel MOTG is creating impact?

I think one of the greatest impacts that Movement On The ground has had on the community is the establishment of the resident volunteer system and the structure in place. While the provision of food and housing is more essential to a person's survival, what many forget is that in any community, people require a purpose to move forward. This can entail working or other forms of activities that allow people to feel like they are useful. 

 5. What has been your most heartwarming moment so far?

My most heartwarming moment was in Kara Tepe. Some of the residing families had just gotten news that they would be transferred to Athens. There were many tearful goodbyes. Especially among the resident volunteers and translators with whom I had been working for a month. I was sad to see them go. But at the same time very happy as they were one step closer towards pursuing their goals. Although I may not see them again, I certainly wish them the best and hope they continue to pursue their dreams. 

6. What are your ambitions for the future?

I am currently preparing for University in the United Kindom. I intend to pursue a Master's degree in the future. Nevertheless I will keep looking for further volunteering opportunities, be it with Movement On The Ground on Lesvos or anywhere else. The various breaks and holidays during my time in University can definitely serve as great chances to volunteer more! 

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