Look at the power of knowledge in action! From potty training to flossing teeth, read on for an update from Valeria and Team 54 as they empower refugees through education.
Team 54 was prepared for a small crowd of refugees that they would teach, but they were quickly surprised by the size of the group: “Throughout the afternoon, we collaborated with Love and Serve Without Boundaries volunteers to provide a hygiene clinic for the local refugee community. We anticipated that around 60 individuals would attend but well over 100 men, women, and children overfilled every classroom in the top floor of an Athens apartment building. Mothers and fathers lifted strollers up flights of stairs, every chair was claimed, and children sat on any available lap.”
Team 54 tackled many different types of hygiene: “Sam, resident floss fanatic, was responsible for the dental hygiene portion which included a demonstration with a large dental model and an oversize toothbrush. Shannon demonstrated the importance of hand hygiene and the ways to prevent the spread of illnesses, especially in food preparation and while using the restroom.” The team even discussed potty training: “Jen, the monarch of Team 54, was challenged with the task of discussing toilet training and bathroom hygiene.” Anyone who has small children knows how difficult potty training can be; trying to potty train in a refugee camp would make it even more challenging. Thankfully, Team 54 provided the knowledge to make it easier!
While potty training can be difficult, it is usually a temporary situation. For women, every month presents a challenge in the refugee camps. Many refugees do not always have access to female hygiene products. When they do have access, they may have no experience with some products. Because of this, staying clean during their monthly menstrual cycle can be difficult. Luckily, Valerie came to the rescue with information on how to use various types of feminine products: “With the help of two refugee women translating, we discussed hygiene options commonly used by women globally. While we were initially cautious about discussing the use of tampons and menstrual cups due to the diverse cultures represented throughout the room, we quickly realized that our concerns were irrelevant. To our surprise, these topics were received with curiosity and an eagerness for more information about hygiene options besides the standard sanitary napkin.”
Often, it is the things we take for granted that most empower the refugees we help: “There are little words I can use to describe the undeniable sense of empowerment that overcame this community of refugee women. Needless to say, this experience left me speechless, moved, and with a new-found desire to do more.”
Everything that Valerie and the rest of Team 54 experienced left them feeling inspired: “Each member of Team 54 left Greece with an experience that lit a match with the potential of creating an inferno. This as my match and the inspired women I interacted with were the lighter. As I prepare to return home to Maine and the reality of continuing graduate school, I wonder what my inferno will look like. Truthfully, I’m hoping that it will bring me back to Greece.
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