Frequently Asked Questions

Athena Centre for Women, Chios

The Centre is founded on the concept of creating a safe sanctuary for the women away from the camps, supported by three main pillars: education, information, and social psychological support.

The Centre has an activity hall for lessons upon request of the women. We believe in a collaborative approach, so what goes on our schedule board are a reflection of the women’s feedback and wishes.

Since our opening, we have offered English, German, French and Greek. Classes such as zumba, yoga, art therapy and self defence also take place in the activity hall. The Centre has also hosted outside expertise for seminars on topics such as sexual health, contraception, feminine hygiene and safety.

We also have a relaxation room, known fondly by the women in the camps as the “Raha,” which means “relaxation” in Arabic. It provides an area for women to socialize, chat, knit, play their music, skype with their families, and network over refreshments funded by your donations.

The Centre also has a fully functional kitchen and a bathroom, providing hot water – something we take for granted in daily life but so that women can shower in dignity and safety, which is sadly not always possible in the camps.

The Centre also has a small office where women are able to speak privately with our female psychologist, medical and legal partners.

The Centre is open Monday through Saturday from 1200 HRS – 1800 HRS.

The Centre is opened to the female refugee population of Chios, aged 10 years old and above. To ensure a calm environment and to prevent overcrowding, entry into the Centre is by appointment basis only.

The women treat the Centre as their home and we respect their privacy. Hence, we do not allow drop-ins during our opening hours.

We are however very happy to show you around our humble little space pre or post operating hours. You are welcome to make a prior appointment closer to your date of arrival by dropping us a message on our Facebook page. We promise to respond within 24 hours.

The Centre is run entirely by a team of 3-4 volunteers and our Centre Coordinator. Our volunteers come from all over the world and diverse backgrounds. The team is entirely female for obvious reasons.

It takes 4395 Euros per month to keep the Centre going. Action from Switzerland is a fiercely independent organisation and our Centre is funded entirely by private donations. Find out how you can help or join our Action 100 Initiative.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for regular updates on the Centre’s activities. Our newsletter also features statistics and new activities at the Centre.

No day is ever the same. Depending on your skill sets, you’d be required to assist in various tasks ranging from administrative, to cleaning up, translations and activities within the Centre.

Due to the nature of our work, our Centre volunteers must be female, aged 21 or older, and are able to commit to a stay of at least 30 days to ensure safety and stability for our visitors.

Our working language is English. We are always on the lookout for volunteers who are also fluent in Arabic, Farsi, French, Kurmanji, and/or Sorani.

Volunteers who don’t speak any of those languages but with a background in social work, sexual gender based violence or psychotherapy will be much appreciated. Drop us a note anyway if you don’t possess any of those skills as we love diversity.

We are constantly looking for solidarity from proactive, emotionally resilient and highly organised team players who are passionate about social justice – especially those who take a strong stance on women’s issues.

Please see our Volunteer page for more information. After you fill out the appropriate form(s) on the page, our Volunteer Coordinator will reach out to you to set up an in-person meeting or a Skype call to discuss the next steps.

We endeavour to recruit our volunteers prior in advance through a two step screening and interview process, as well as pre-departure trainings. We regret we are unable to accommodate any last minute requests for volunteering.

If you are interested in conducting activities, we welcome your inquiry and proposal of your activity, if you are able to stay for at least a month and are able to fund your own materials.

We always welcome dynamic, driven, proactive and committed individuals who will stand with us and our displaced friends in solidarity, and not charity.

AfW is staffed entirely by like-minded individuals and our team runs on a horizontal structure where volunteers utilise the network to drive their own projects, or support existing ones. We’ll love to meet you and hear your ideas on how you can intensify and expand our work. Please get in touch.

Thank you for your generosity. We believe in sourcing everything locally in order to support the Greek economy. Of course there are items that cannot be sourced locally that we might need from time to time.

You are welcome to drop us a message on our Facebook page closer to your arrival date, where we will give you a list where you can help us go shopping, depending on our needs at that point in time!

AfW maintains an extremely strict privacy policy, and we are fiercely protective of the women when they are in our Centre and even during after hours.

Absolutely no filming nor access to the women for interviews are allowed during our operational hours. You are welcome however, to film the Centre before or after closing, depending on our team’s availability.

Some television stations have previously given feedback that footage does not come alive or “is a little bland” without the women in the Centre. This is where we’ll thank you for your interest in our work but we’d have to politely decline your request as we take every precaution and measures to ensure that the women do not feel exploited in any capacity.

The women will speak with you if they want to. You will need to obtain your own permission from the relevant authorities prior to your arrival to visit the camps. We will not be able to facilitate that.

However, AfW is passionate about advocacy. We welcome any press who are keen on highlighting the difficulties of our fellow human beings stranded in Greece, as well as the particular challenges faced by the female refugee population. Please drop us a message on Facebook with more details of your publication and your story angles. We endeavour to be as helpful as we can in deepening public understanding of the crisis and providing opportunities that will benefit the women and girls.

Halcyon Days Project, Athens

The all-women’s learning centre will be opened from 10am – 6pm.

Only authorised volunteers and women using the centre can access to facilities.

The centre is run entirely by local volunteers and the total monthly cost is 1,730 Euros, and this amount includes: rent, training materials, electricity, water, stationery and office supplies, wifi, food/beverages, publications, cleaning supplies, mobile phone top up, petty Cash and cleaning equipment. Similarly to the Athena Centre, Halcyon Days Project is entirely funded by private donations.

Thank you for your generosity. We believe in sourcing everything locally in order to support the Greek economy. Of course there are items that cannot be sourced locally that we might need from time to time.

You are welcome to drop us a message on our Facebook page closer to your arrival date, where we will give you a list where you can help us go shopping, depending on our needs at that point in time!

At the moment we are only looking for volunteers for the Athena Centre on Chios.

Due to the nature of our work, our volunteers must be female, aged 21 or older, and are able to commit to a stay of at least 30 days to ensure safety and stability for our visitors. Our working language is English and we are always on the lookout for volunteers who are also fluent in Arabic, Farsi, Kurmanji, and/or Sorani.

Volunteers who don’t speak any of those languages but with a background in social work, sexual gender-based violence and psychotherapy will be much appreciated. Drop us a note anyway if you don’t possess any of those skills. We love diversity and are constantly looking for solidarity from proactive, gentle but strong self starters and team players who are passionate about social justice – especially those who take a strong stance on women’s issues.

Our volunteers have come from various parts of Europe as well as North America.

We always welcome dynamic, driven, proactive and committed individuals who will stand with us and our displaced friends in solidarity, and not charity.

AfW is staffed entirely by like-minded individuals and our local social integration programs run on a horizontal structure where volunteers utilise the network to drive their own projects, or support existing ones. We’ll love to meet you and hear your ideas on how you can intensify and expand our local projects.

Please see our Volunteer page for more information. After you fill out the appropriate form(s) on the page, our Volunteer Coordinator will reach out to you to set up an in-person meeting or a Skype call to discuss opportunities and next steps.

AfW maintains an extremely strict privacy policy, and we are fiercely protective of the women when they are in our facilities and even during after hours. Absolutely no filming nor access to the women for interviews are allowed during our opening hours of the centres.

You are welcome however, to film the Athena Centre between 2pm – 4pm from Monday through Saturdays only if the Centre is not booked for other use. Please get in touch with us and we’d be happy to consider your request on a case by case basis.

The women will speak with you if they want to. You will need to obtain your own permission from the authorities in charge of Vial, prior to your arrival to visit on Chios. We regret that we will not be able to facilitate that.

However, AfW is passionate about advocacy. We welcome any press who are keen on highlighting the difficulties of our fellow human beings stranded in Greece, as well as the particular challenges faced by the female refugee population. For starters, please refer to our blog posts below for more background information and drop us a message on Facebook with more details of your publication and your story angles. We endeavour to be as helpful as we can in deepening public understanding of the crisis and providing opportunities that will benefit refugees.

Volunteering

Switzerland
Even though we are a Zürich-based organisation, our volunteers come from various nationalities. Our working language is English. If English is not your mother tongue, we require your English be at least B2 level.

Greece
We are always on the lookout for female volunteers who are fluent in Greek, Arabic, Farsi, French, Kurmanji, and/or Sorani. Volunteers who don’t speak any of those languages but with a background in social work, sexual gender based violence or psychotherapy will be much appreciated. Get in touch anyway if you don’t possess any of those skills as we love diversity and are constantly looking for solidarity from proactive, emotionally resilient and highly organised team players who are passionate about social justice – especially those who take a strong stance on women’s issues.

Switzerland
Our core team works remotely. Depending on your skill sets and time you have specified, you’d be allocated a coordinator from the core team (Link to team page) with specific tasks.

Greece
In Greece, no one day is ever the same. On the field, depending on your skill sets, you’d be required to assist in various tasks ranging from administrative, to cleaning up, translations and activities within the projects.

Switzerland
After filling in our application form below, you will be invited to our next monthly volunteer induction in Zürich city, usually held in the first week of every new calendar month.

Greece
As long as you meet our basic criteria (female and able to stay for at least 30 days), you will be contacted by our Volunteer Coordinator within 72 hours to set up an in-person meeting or a Skype call to discuss the next steps.

You will then be required to then have a Skype session to ascertain your suitability and fit for the team onsite based on your dates and submission of various documentation before we send a confirmation to book your flights.

The full screening process lasts from 2-3 weeks. For candidates who complete successfully this process, you will have to attend a pre-departure briefing via Skype which will usually last 1.5hours, no less than a week before your departure.

We believe in ensuring that our donors’ money are utilised properly. 95% of our donations are channeled directly to the needs of the women. Hence, we only provide shared accomodation for our volunteers. You will be required to share all living facilities with 3-4 other volunteers on site.

Volunteers are responsible to ensure all personal injury and liability insurances are valid before coming to Greece. We will not be responsible for any injuries, damages or loss that occur during your volunteer stint with us.

When volunteering with us, you will have to adapt to many changes – from food, cultural and language. The hours are often long. Free time and privacy will be limited. You will have to share your sleeping quarters and all other facilities. You will also be a long way from your loved ones, working under very stressful and often, emotionally difficult conditions. We require our volunteers to be tolerant and possess strong interpersonal skills, with the willingness to interact and respect people of diverse nationalities, cultures, and personalities. While our Coordinators are on hand to offer a listening ear, please make sure that you reflect on all of these factors before applying.

We respect your need for privacy. You are still welcome to apply but you are responsible for your own accommodation costs. However, you will still be expected to abide by our Code of Conduct. Adherence to our Code of Conduct is not negotiable.

Due to limited resources, we are unfortunately unable to assist in any visa applications. We believe it is every volunteer’s responsibility to practice due diligence and independence when it comes to processing their own visas.

Greece
Due to the nature of our work, we require our field volunteers to be female, aged 21 or older, and are able to commit to a stay of at least 30 days to ensure safety and stability for our visitors.

Switzerland
We understand that it is always not possible for everyone to commit to being onsite for a month but still possess valuable skills. We welcome male and female volunteers who are dynamic, driven, proactive and committed.

AfW is staffed entirely by like-minded individuals and our core team runs on a horizontal structure where volunteers utilise the network to drive their own projects, or support existing ones. We’ll love to meet you and hear your ideas on how you can intensify and expand our work.

AfW recruits all our volunteers beforehand to ensure the best fit of skill sets within the onsite team. Feel free to get in touch though, you will still need to undergo the screening process and be required to stay at least 30 days.

You are free to specify your preference. However, as each project requires various specific skill sets, we seek your understanding and flexibility that AfW reserves the right to match each applicant’s skills with our needs on the field.

Volunteers are required to be available from Monday until Saturdays, from 1100HRS until 1830HRS. We run on a lean team and we require full commitment during our operational hours. For security reasons, our volunteer accommodation is strictly for the onsite team only.

We hope we’ve answered most of your questions. Please feel free to get in touch if you have other questions.

To take the next step, please fill out the appropriate form(s). To ensure we can utilise your skills effectively we ask that you provide as much information as possible. We respect your privacy and will not share your data outside of our organisation.

We thank you for your trust and look forward to hearing from you.