Our work in Greece started in 2016 when we responded to a need created by thousands of refugees traveling from their homes, across mountains and sea, to the islands and mainland of Greece.
We recognized an opportunity to help fill the physical needs and give hope in a time of desperate need.We joined hands with EuroRelief, a European relief organization working in the main refugee camp on the island of Lesvos, Greece, since 2015. EuroRelief provides much of the structure of the work, works on connections with camp officials, and heads up the programs in camp while we bring volunteers to help make the work happen.
The work on Lesvos has changed dramatically from the days of volunteers running themselves ragged trying to house 500 people per day. Today it still involves hard work, but it also includes time to listen to a widow’s story over tea, helping a child with homework in their housing unit, and getting to know the mothers and fathers of camp. We expanded to more social care, education, and community engagement programs.
There are less than 2,000 residents in camp and far fewer refugees are arriving than between 2015-2020. Below you will learn more about the different programs and activities our volunteers get involved in!
Located on the Greek island of Lesvos, Camp Mavrovouni is managed by the Hellenic Ministry of Migration and Asylum. This camp was built in 2020 after the previous camp Moria burned to the ground.
The Oasis, our community center, is located half a mile from Camp Mavrovouni. The center is open for a few hours every Monday through Friday. It serves as a place where camp residents can come to relax, have tea or ice-cold lemonade, and fellowship. There are games, such as ping pong. We strive to make it a place of safety where people can ask questions and experience hope and love.The Oasis also serves as a gathering place for the international Christian community each Sunday. Since its beginning in 2016, the Oasis has seen a lot of change. At one point, when thousands of people lived in the camp, nearly 1000 individuals were coming to the Oasis daily for a snack tray with Chai. Currently, fewer people are coming to the center, and because of that, there are more opportunities to form close friendships with the people. Camp residents often invite friends, and some volunteer at the Oasis after getting to know us and our vision for the center.
The women’s ministry we run is operated nearly half a mile from Mavrovouni camp. It’s a home where women can come to rest, paint, cook, pick fruits and vegetables from the garden, or have a cup of ice water as they walk past.
Occasional birthday parties or special meals for groups are a highlight. Whether it’s one person or ten, it is a delight to have a space where volunteers and camp residents can be together as friends.
Towards the end of 2021, after much prayer and thought, i58 began an internship program based in Greece that includes travel to other countries.
Why did we start an internship program? We see many short-term volunteers returning for a 2nd and even 3rd time because of a deep connection with the work on Lesvos. The i58 Internship Program is being initiated out of the desire to offer something more to young people who are committed to growing personally, have a long-term interest in missions, and are looking for ways to build their ‘tool-belt’ for ministry.
If interested please contact us for more information.
Interested in volunteering?
Read our guide to learn more
Want to join our work? Learn more about what that looks like in this article, or click below to sign up!internship program