Volunteer Story

Volunteering at Tabanovce refugee camp.

Volunteer Story by Annika Peterson

When I said to my friends and family that I will be spending my summer volunteering in a refugee camp in Macedonia, many of them were confused why I want to do it and some were even concerned about my safety. People have many prejudices about refugees/migrants, often they are very harsh. I think it is like that because people are afraid and they do not have a lot of knowledge about this topic.

The two months I spent volunteering in the camp changed my thinking also. Even though, I came here with an open mind and passion to help people, in back of my mind, I also was a bit worried, how it will be and how the people in the camp will be.

Tabanovce camp is a transit center, which is 400 metres from the border of Serbia. At the moment it does not have many people there. People usually stay only for few nights there to rest and continue their journey after that. The number of people staying in a camp varies every day. During my time there, it was mostly around 20 people. Some days the number of migrants reached until 70.

I have to say that I was positively suprised every day. Even though at the moment the people, who are in the camp are mostly economic migrants, they still need our help and understanding. I was suprised how genuine and friendly they are. They all just want to get to a country, where they are safe and have better quality of life than what they had back home.

During the two months volunteering at the Tabanovce refugee camp, I met many interesting people and had fascinating conversations with them. It was interesting to hear their stories. Some of them have been walking for a long-long time. Reaching Tabanovce means that they are almost in the EU and soon they will reach their destination, whether it is Germany, Italy or some other country.

I am thankful that I was part of Legis team for the two months in the camp. People in Legis really want to help people in need and to educate the public more about the refugee problems we are facing. I really enjoyed my time in the camp and I hope to be back in the future to work together with them again.