Hello! My name is Benjamin ROUSSET and I am a French volunteer in EVS for 7 months at drasi!
During my first day I learned how this space works with the other rather welcoming volunteers! The work is easy to handle, and it's very interesting.
to take care of turtles, from small birds to big birds like buzzards or owls!
Then me and another Belgian volunteer called Hanna before visiting Thessaloniki, which was a first for me with very nice places to take pictures!


Very quickly I started to love to go for walks around drasi, with Adénatos, Stef and Luna!
Who are the three dogs who live in drasi!

And I can't wait to continue my stay at drasi!

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The last two days were pretty intense and exhausting.

We had an outside activity, we were split in 4 groups, and the coordinators gave us one page full of exercises (pretty much of them taking pictures in touristic places of the city) and a second page which was and interview for Greek people with the intention of making us have a conversation with local people and know them better. It had bad luck, it was raining and cold, so when we had most of the answers and pictures, we just went to a coffee shop to sit and stay in a warm place (sorry for that, coordinators!).

During the afternoon and evening, the activities were focus on making a presentation about our outside experience at the morning and to discuss some topics. The debate was intense. They gave us different affirmations, with each of them you had 2 minutes to talk about it with a partner, and then we had to choose if we agree or disagree and discuss about it. I swear, if they hadn’t stop us, we could still be there giving our reasons!

At night, we knew one organisation that host a lot of international students were doing kind of a demonstration due to the violence against women. We went there to support them, and after that we had finally free time to spend together. There was only 6 of us volunteering in Thessaloniki, and they were the ones showing and leading other people to the best taverns and bars.

The last day, was the day chosen by the coordinators of the crew to talk about ESC. They try to explain what it is, how it works... They tried to give us tools for solving problems and information about the budget. By the time we were exhausted, barely focus to be honest. I wish we had this explanation at the beginning, when we were fresh and we could had ask questions during the whole seminar. As I understood, sometimes they give this info at the beginning, sometimes at the end, it depends each time.

After that, we had our last night together, and the next day one by one we had to say goodbye. Saying goodbye is always sad, but I consider myself lucky because of the people I met there. Some of us had the opportunity to stay longer, and we took it just to stay together a bit more. Since then some of us are still meeting, and now we have a reason to travel a bit more and visit each other!

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In my last day off, I was invited to participate in a bird watching route. Before I came here, I had never though about bird waching as a hobby, as a way to spend a day, but since I got to Drasi I havent stopped hearing about this activity, and after one and a half month I found myself willing to try it. 

We started the jurney early (not as early as they are used to, which is starting around 6am, but that's too much for my in my first day XD), and then we did a complet rout around a big lake, starting in a mountain and moving by car to the differents spots. It is amazing how people passionate in this is able to recognize any bird because of their sound or their way of fliying even when I wasn't able to see them. We had some cameras with us, and I played to take pictures and then trying to find the specie in a book with all the species you can find in Greece. We were focused on the small birds, so if you ever want to try, make sure your camera has a strong ¿objective? and you are able to cach them from a big distance.

Birds are more scared about people than cars, that's why sometimes we stayed inside the car. We also had a speaker, we used it to play natural sounds (like birds sounds) and waited for them to come. Sometimes it worked, sometimes the speaker scared them. You never know! Furthermore they never stop moving, can be really challenging to take a good picture.

Despite of my lack of experience, I think I took some good ones (thanks to the camera they lend me for sure), I'll leave them below. Judge yourself!

 

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The welcome seminar is kind of a “course” that all the volunteers from the EVS or ESC Project must to receive on its first month after the arrival. The number of volunteers assisting is variable, in my case we were 28 volunteers coming all over Greece. It took place in Thessaloniki center, in a hotel close to the city center, but the place change in every seminar. The first day was focus on the arrivals, check in and a little presentation. Some people couldn’t get there on time, so the presentation was shorter and the rest of the activities postpone to the next day so the rest of the people coming wouldn’t miss anything.

The hole week was planned full of activities. Most of them were games and exercises focused on what is volunteering, solidarity…

In order to know what was doing everybody in its own project, we had and activity where we had to make a poster with the explanation of what and where we are doing and then, in 3 different rounds, we had 10 min to explain to anybody that was interested our project. At the end, we didn’t find it enough to know all we wanted to know about each other’s program, so the truth is that we shared more interested info in our lunch/diner times and during night.

 

One of the best things of this 5 days at the hotel was the food. We had a free buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and as you can imagine, we ate each time more than necessary… Gosh I miss that food!

The coordinators wanted to focus in building a crew, so we spent the first 3 days exchanging info about ourselves and playing the typical games for breaking ice and finding stuff in common between us. Even though we got closer in our free time, when we could be relaxed and talk without a topic. I belive it's a normal thing to happen, isn't it?

 We also made a wall with or names, as a "post offcie" and durnig the week we were leaving messages to each other, some anonymous, but at the end we knew each other and we were able to say from whom we were recieving a note!

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The main goal of our work at Drasi is to take care of wild animals until they are ready to be released.

Every animal (mostly birds) need its own spot, that’s why it is important to know where they were found in order that they can get their freedom back where they used to live.

When it is possible, we have some events to release some birds, in order to show people our work and explain them the bird history and a bit about their breed.

               

The technique to let them free is usually the same with all of them (birds).

First, they all need to have their own ring, with their own number (every number is different all around the world). Then, there is a variance between the little birds and the big ones:

                 

  • The little ones need to be hold up (open hand) and at some point they decide to leave. Some of them need their time.
  • Some other a bit bigger (depend on the specie, like pigeons) need the impulse to start flying
  • The big ones, however, need to be left on the floor, with no obstacles in front (including people) so they can run a bit when they want to take off. For them this process is too stressful due to they are not use to people, neither to be in cages which is needed to take them to the correct place. Furthermore the noise affects them, so when they are released during a festival, everybody need remain silent until the bird leaves.

 

                     

            

 

It has to be consider if they are daytime or nocturnal. Obviously owls need to wait until it gets dark

We had some turtles released too, for them it is necessary to go a place where they can find water, and leave them on the ground, a bit hide.

I’m glad I had the chance to live this beautiful moments

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