Due to a complicated swirl of contracts and visa regulations, I woke up one morning and learned that I was going to be heading home in two weeks. Twelve hours later, I had a plane ticket to Greece. I had 48 hours to pack up and head out. I was getting pretty used to this routine.
I joined a small team who were working to assist with the ever-changing refugee crisis. Based in Athens, I frequently traveled out to the islands where we were working. My first tour of the islands opened my eyes to a situation that was heartbreaking and complex. I was overwhelmed by how privileged I felt to be a part of it.
On my first visit, I got to watch my team begin to build Refugee Housing Units (RHUs), a structure designed by the Ikea Foundation. Much like Ikea furniture, the parts come in two flat boxes. When I returned to the island, the transit site was fully-functioning. The RHUs were a significant part of that, housing vulnerable families.
Having come from a year of living in Cambodia and Nepal, being in Greece felt strange. I understood what it looked like to serve in those countries. I had a framework of what to expect when I walked into them. However, I didn't have a framework for Greece. The whole situation felt like a strange paradox — a desperately difficult situation occurring in an incredibly beautiful place.