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Feb 13, 2017, 6.36am aka day 11

So there was the weekend. I learned a lot of new things about the refugees my organization works with and also about the area I’m living at.  I feel like I couldn’t completely get into detail about all that. Not only because of the fragility of the stories but also cause I’m watching it from the side, hearing stories that are just stories, I don’t question the legitimacy of the stories but I don’t believe you would understand them without putting people in boxes. There is violence, there is abuse, poverty, yet there are the girls and women I teach, the volunteers I live with and the people running the organization. 



When I walk into the center in the morning and see my colleagues , my eyes don’t look at them with sorrow as you would think, but my eyes see so much kindness and love. That’s why I probably feel so comfortable and easy here as I was craving to be surrounded by this for so long. It’s also that people deal with actual problems here and don’t complain and whine about the comfort of their lives that they don’t know how to appreciate. 

Then I walk into my classroom full of young girls who’s eyes remind me of mine. They are quiet, they listen, most of them eagerly want to learn. I started with my project which was a bit tricky as it got very personal right in the beginning but the things the girls wrote and drew.. there was a sentence “I wish I would be a butterfly so I could fly back to Syria” and a picture of one head with two faces, one was happy and one was crying- the girl drew herself from the outside and inside. I prepared long and throughly for my project but I wasn’t actually prepared for that. I was speechless multiple times that day, tried to figure out how to respond to them and only way I came up with was thanking them for showing me this. 

In the evenings I sit in the living room with my flatmates, one is lying on the couch reading a book, one behind a table on her laptop, other two showing each other photos of their travels. What my eyes really see when looking at them  is stars and flowers, i hear the sound of the sea, the view to them brings peace and calmness into my heart. Great humans together for a mutual purpose to help others. And we laugh so much together. So much! 

Day 13. 

Yesterday was a day off, went to the movies with the whole crew, had a great meal at our favorite restaurant Em Nazih. Today though continued with my project. It was a new group so tried a new approach. I feel like when i started on saturday with the other groups we were afraid to really acknowledge the fact that they have seen war and gone through hell so asking these personal questions didn’t get too many girls answering. Today I opened up to them. I told them of how I grew up. It took shit ton of courage to stand in front of the classroom and talk about it. There’s a difference in telling the Story of my upbringing to telling about the emotions felt due to the story. I usually don’t care to talk about the first but i rarely talk about the thoughts and emotions experienced. I felt thats a more honest approach to my project as why should they open up if i don’t. And it worked. It broke my heart and brought tears in my soul but I am beyond humbled and thankful they did open up to me. The loss they have experienced is far off our understanding. You read these stories and its a story, you look them in the eyes and it becomes .. I’m not finding the word to describe it.. Its real, its no longer a story. I don’t think of their hardships when teaching them, which is good, but i do feel closer to the girls than before. Some things written ‘’ War tried to take away my dreams but it didn’t know it made me stronger’’, ‘’The mother earth is bleeding’’ .. I’ll attach photos of the drawing below. So much loss. 

If you, who you’re reading this could help the situation of others in any way, or want to write of what SB Overseas is doing, get in touch! anrikepiel@gmail.com or http://sboverseas.org/ 

And any donation here is highly appreciated https://www.gofundme.com/anrikevolunteerlebanon

Feb 13, 2017, 6.36am aka day 11

So there was the weekend. I learned a lot of new things about the refugees my organization works with and also about the area I’m living at.  I feel like I couldn’t completely get into detail about all that. Not only because of the fragility of the stories but also cause I’m watching it from the side, hearing stories that are just stories, I don’t question the legitimacy of the stories but I don’t believe you would understand them without putting people in boxes. There is violence, there is abuse, poverty, yet there are the girls and women I teach, the volunteers I live with and the people running the organization. 



When I walk into the center in the morning and see my colleagues , my eyes don’t look at them with sorrow and pity but my eyes see so much kindness and love. That’s why I probably feel so comfortable and easy here as I was craving to be sounded by this for so long. It’s also that people deal with actual problems here and don’t complain and whine about the comfort of their life that they don’t know how to appreciate. 

Then I walk into my classroom full of young girls who’s eyes remind me of mine. They are quiet, they listen, most of them eagerly want to learn. I started with my project which was a bit tricky as it got very personal right in the beginning but the things the girls wrote and drew.. there was a sentence “I wish I would be a butterfly so I could fly back to Syria” and a picture of one head with two faces, one was happy and one was crying- the girl drew herself from the outside and inside. I prepared long and throughly for my project but I wasn’t actually prepared for that. I was speechless multiple times that day, tried to figure out how to respond to them and only way I came up with was thanking them for showing me this. 

In the evenings I sit in the living room with my flatmates, one is lying on the couch reading a book, one behind a table on her laptop, other two showing each other photos of their travels. What my eyes really see when looking at them  is stars and flowers, i hear the sound of the sea, the view to them brings peace and calmness into my heart. Great humans together for a mutual purpose to help others. And we laugh so much together. So much! 

Day 13. 

Yesterday was a day off, went to the movies with the whole crew, had a great meal at our favorite restaurant Em Nazih. Today though continued with my project. It was a new group so tried a new approach. I feel like when i started on saturday with the other groups we were afraid to really acknowledge the fact that they have seen war and gone through hell so asking these personal questions didn’t get too many girls answering. Today I opened up to them. I told them of how I grew up. It took shit ton of courage to stand in front of the classroom and talk about it. There’s a difference in telling the Story of my upbringing to telling about the emotions felt due to the story. I usually don’t care to talk about the first but i rarely talk about the thoughts and emotions experienced. I felt thats a more honest approach to my project as why should they open up if i don’t. And it worked. It broke my heart and brought tears in my soul but I am beyond humbled and thankful they did open up to me. The loss they have experienced is far off our understanding. You read these stories and its a story, you look them in the eyes and it becomes .. I’m not finding the word to describe it.. Its real, its no longer a story. I don’t think of their hardships when teaching them, which is good, but i do feel closer to the girls than before. Some things written ‘’ War tried to take away my dreams but it didn’t know it made me stronger’’, ‘’The mother earth is bleeding’’ .. I’ll attach photos of the drawing below. So much loss. 

If you, who you’re reading this could help the situation of others in any way, or want to write of what SB Overseas is doing, get in touch! anrikepiel@gmail.com or http://sboverseas.org/ 

And any donation here is highly appreciated https://www.gofundme.com/anrikevolunteerlebanon



Day 5. Long day. Good day. Been concentrated more on how to teach and what to teach. Starting with my project tomorrow. Everyday trying to come up with new ideas to potentially benefit the refugee families. SB Overseas is doing such an amazing job. Everyone I’m working with is so kind and great.. what else to expect from such selfless people. 

I feel happy with what I’m doing, though once I get home when so exhausted i do feel a need for a hug.

Day 7. 1 week of being in Lebanon. We had a day off today as it’s a holiday. Spent the day discovering Beirut which is gorgeous. It’s crazy seeing all this wealth here, people wearing full Chanel etc while next to them is such poverty. 

Had dinner at our presidents house which was very nice. Got to bond more with some of the people who work in the organization. One of a kind humans. They have signed up for not having a day off or any rest whatsoever to improve the lives of others. They work relentlessly.  I get it. Once you really get to know the people and see the conditions, nothing else can be remotely as important and fulfilling than bettering the lives of the people who have lost all. I admire the people working for SB Overseas wholeheartedly. Also the organization is only taking 7% of the investments/donations for management costs while other NGO’s take about 60%-80%. Can easily imagine that after my two months here, spending a month in Barcelona and maybe some time in Estonia, enjoying all the warm showers, electricity and never ending internet, i could come back here. 


Day 8 

Had first aid course today. Did you know in Syria they put coffee on bloody wounds.. don’t do that! :D 
Stories I heard last night of the camps, the families, the struggles, the abuse, the terror, keep haunting me, filling me with sorrow and anger. It has made me ill. I try to accept what is right now and each time it comes in my mind, I think of my own upbringing to have more hopeful thoughts that in 30 years there will be biographies of these famous/successful/happy people who were refugee kids from Syria when growing up. Though the conditions were different for me when growing up, I still do see myself in many of the . They are shy, quiet yet looking into their eyes is like reading a book. They might not know yet but through all the hardships, they’ve gained so many powers. I hope I’ll be able to give them at least a glimpse of it. 

I bought a ton of materials for my project today. Can’t wait to see what comes out of it. 

I am working hard to put every skill I have into use, each limb,finger, toe. I wish you would see what I see, feel what I feel, so you would do your best to help the ones who have lost all to get back on their feet. I wish you would  appreciate the luxuries you have and be grateful and humbled. I wish you would love without judgement, expectations. I wish that fear wouldn’t overcome kindness. I don’t know how I can step back to your world.. I mean you gotta lure me in with my grandmas food. Ohh my grandmas food.. I miss my family.

Please, please, please https://www.gofundme.com/anrikevolunteerlebanon I am thankful for any donation no matter the size of the amount. My respect and love for each one of you who has donated. I know who you are! 


Day 3? Feels like day 200.. i mean, its exhausting. But its good. I’ll sleep when I’m back in Barcelona.

This morning we went to Saida  as we had a football player from Barcelona visiting with 2 couches. The kids here love football, they know all the football songs and we dance waka waka a lot. It is amazing to see the children laugh and happy while the reality is that there’s about 1500 people living in a six floor building, one bathroom on each floor. I haven’t gone in yet which I will eventually do. Volunteers who have been inside told it’s something that’s necessary to see but you can’t unsee it.

At one point when we were having lunch with Ana by the Saida center, some kids started playing with a dead pigeon, throwing it over us and such… while some other boys tried to break into SB Overseas car as they knew there’s footballs there. A bit back story to that - they didn’t have balls before, hence throwing a dead pigeon around, so Ana managed to collect 200$ and bought 200 balls from the dollar store!!!!!!! 

The kids are so loving and playful.

Later that day we did our weekly groceries with my flatmates, like a little family trying to figure out foods that all of us (belgian,australian,american,Irish and estonian) would like.  Afterwards had a sweet family dinner. Though where we are is no joke, we have a lot of fun here. The jokes  are often something that can’t be explained to people who are not here, like “was it fireworks or is there a shooting aka should we sit at the hallway or all good” and then we laugh and laugh and laugh (hear the crazy, sarcastic laugh here)… or looking outside the window, truly a million dollar view at night time (mountains,lights) and seeing how electricity goes off in blocks after blocks. Ohhh all the laughs. The shootings aren’t always gang related, sometimes it’s a warning shot, sometimes there’s weddings or other celebrations etc.

We spent the night preparing for school tomorrow, gonna have our first day of teaching. It’s now 1am when everyone’s going to bed, we’ve been up since 7, waking up at 7. But we know why we’re here, we know how important it is to teach the kids and give our best so the comfort is quite the last thing to think of. It’s beautiful to sit together with a room full of people to purposefully and selflessly, though we’re exhausted, work to make sure we can give our best to the kids.  The manager from Saida for instance is gonna pull an all nighter as he’s driving old volunteers to the airport all night. He really has a big heart, works hard, very dedicated to what he does. An outstanding man! Same goes to our manager in Beirut. Such sweet, kindhearted people.

Though the life here might sound crazy/scary whatever I feel very comfortable being here, my soul is at peace, I’m surrounded with likeminded people, who care and love  and don’t care of their own discomfort of the lifestyle here. 

I do hope that when you’re reading this, you take a moment to appreciate what you have. Tell the people in your life that you love them, smile to a stranger, give a euro to a homeless man on the street, evaluate your priorities in life as what is important to be or get angry at and what is not. Be kind. And see the refugees as people like you and me.

Day 4. 

It was the first day I was teaching. My classes have girls from ages 13-20 + two groups of women classes + some private lessons. The classes have very mixed levels. Some girls understand quite a bit, some don’t even know how to write their names in English which made the first class rather difficult. The second class I nailed though!!! It felt so good to see I was useful and the girls actually learned something! My teachers and schoolmates from back home, if you’re reading this, know that I’m also surprised of the path my life has taken - sitting in the teachers room, preparing English classes with blocks of books beside me. 

We also planned out how we will be doing my project here and turns out I’m going to be working with about 60girls which is very exciting!! 

Day and night trying to figure out ways to make the lives better. 

Again, it is very exhausting but it’s so so worth it and we don’t even think of the tiredness knowing the importance of the job we gotta do. 

I’ve also noticed that with this short time that feels like forever we have adapted with the lifestyle here well. Apt smells a bit gassy? Okay. Water leaking from somewhere? Lol. Sitting out the gunshots in the hallway? Cool, but wait, my tea and biscuits are in the kitchen!!! 

The people we work with and all the volunteers I’m living with are so lovely. We have a lot of laughs together and it’s very simple and comfortable. 

I am still collecting donations that we desperately need, put the 10eur somewhere where it could truly matter   https://www.gofundme.com/anrikevolunteerlebanon


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