“Paths of memory” Group EVS project, May 2019

written by volunteers from Italy.

We could talk about war, about fear, about racism, about hate, about the darkness that the second world war bring in the world and in hearts, but we will talk about love. We will recount/ tell you a love story.

Once upon a time…

That's the right start of love story.

Once upon a time it was a little village in the middle of the Peloponneses hills inhabitated from farmers, simple people that live and working on land, and without knowing it they write a page of history.

A page of history that talk about love in a book titled hate.

That’s the Rivka’s story, a 6 Year old child and her family, from Athens, they came here in Kryoneri, escaping from nazist occupation.

The people from Kryoneri doesn't know this family but they know about love, and doing for others.

They could die helping jews people to hide, they took risks not only for themself but also for all the village and others persons because this mean fighting and obstructing the military warrants. Helping meant thinking about something bigger, that go beyond proper life, proper safety and surviving, that means fighting for love.

Rivka came back for seeing where she restarted the opportunity to live.

The people from the village start to collect memories and information to help her find the cave, and when they see that it wasn't accessible, the presidents of the village, the cooperatives, the local associations and people from the village, decided to make it possible and reopening the old path to reach it.

Nobody asked it.

And we are pretty sure that they didn't want to do it only for Rivka, they decided to do it for themselves, for the village, for Greece, for the world.

This tought, this generous act by the volunteers in the name of love made the start of an European project.

A simple word like THANK YOU can have many effects. Rivka decided to retracing her past, starting with say thank you to the people that guest her in the past, that helped her to escape and hide. Action that saved so many lifes. Rivka wanted to do something back, a small action. Saying thank you.

The grateful shown by Rivka made people feel the unit, made people feel themselfs part of the community, made stop the time for few hours giving the opportunity to the comunity to cry together, and to feel love togheter.

In this Month we were 14 volunteers from 7 different countries and we confronted with different ways to live, different cultures, different political and school systems. We also met and knew people from Kryoneri, some of them already knew us as volunteers from Filoxenia but others just want to know and help us like driving us up and down the hill, or helping us finding places, shop or other things.

We presented us to the village frequenting the local shop, the bakery and the pub, walking around and talking about our countries in an dedicated evening in the cultural center where we also offered food that we brought and prepared for them.

Its necessary, to tell about this experience in a proper way, start from/with a question. What does it mean being a volunteer?

During a meeting we discuss about that and each one of us expressed something different and personal. For us being a volunteer is not only about helping, it means being part of something bigger, it means sharing and sharing themselfs with others.

Volunteering is not only about helping others but also helping themself.

This project helped everyone to a personal growth.

In this month we made accessible to people from different age and physical abilities /for all the path to the cave were Rivka and her family were hidden from nazist. Our work is a visible trace in the forest but that was only a part of the process. This experience will be an indelebile track in us, in our heart.

We reflected about the meaning and the importance about the memory, “is necessary to look at the past to learn and avoid to do the same mistakes “ this famouse sentence, often overused , it became meaningfull for us because we literally work on it for 30 days.

Is important to everyone to reflect about the human rights and values. It’s not about the persecution of jews, it’s not about nazism and fascism, is about the humanity, is about love and future, is about us.

Now our luggage is full with new knowledges, new experiences, new ideas, new abilities that we are gonna spread all over the world.

Laura Poenariu & Alyssa Lodetti

from Italy, Verbania.

Illustration of Rivka by volunteer Elia Last from Israel