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December means Christmas, and I have been lucky enough to spend it with my family in Italy. Giusy, another Italian volunteer, and I took the same flight on the 20th December and I am writing this December monthly report from home actually!!

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Although this Christmas is a bit anomalous due to the limitations imposed by the Italian government to limit Covid 19 infections, I am experiencing it with great serenity and fullness, trying to enjoy as much as possible (and with the necessary precautionary distances) my parents, my sister, my grandmothers, uncles, aunties and all cousins! We are a very close family and I really hope that they will be able to visit me in Greece before the conclusion of my volunteer project to visit at least the beautiful Thessaloniki. The city was extremely beautiful all made up with lights and with a cute Christmas tree in Aristotelus square! You could really breathe a Christmas atmosphere but the call of home and family won over magnificent Christmas Thessaloniki!

Not having been able to celebrate Christmas with the usual big family lunch, I can’t attach a photo of the wonderful table that we usually fill, but, to compensate, I’m happy to show the four-legged member of the family, Jessie, who has been extremely spoiled for nature walks this year!!

The month of December is ending in beauty but it was certainly not easy. Being stuck in a situation is always difficult, especially when you didn’t choose it and when you are in the middle of a lockdown due to a very serious pandemic, far away from home and your family. Even if my natural attitude makes me feel always positive, it doesn’t mean it is not a struggle.

In the difficulty, I tried to build my own new routine.

I really enjoy waking up early in the morning and starting the day doing some yoga. I cut out about an hour a day for studying Greek, a language that is very exciting to me, being extremely musical and pleasant to listen to, and an hour a day for the study of Arabic, my personal challenge, being the language spoken by many asylum seekers that I assist.

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I also try to cut an hour a day for a long walk: an oddity that distinguishes me is the fact that I love reading while walking, and the Thessaloniki seafront is perfectly prepared for this habit of mine. The walk is totally flat, and I would say completely free of obstacles, and that made me concentrate on the story that I am reading, while avoiding the few people on my path.

This hour is very much precious for me, it is the perfect way for me to free my mind, to feed my head, to recharge myself. These physical activities make me feel full of energies all day long!

I started this active routine a month ago, and during the walks I realized there are a lot of homeless around our apartment: I then started to feed them with some food that we don’t eat at the apartment, or that we decide not to eat to give it to other people.

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There are many of them near our house, and they are always very grateful when you leave them even a piece of bread or a dessert to eat. Unfortunately, in my home town, I don’t have this habit because it’s very small and there are actually no homeless people. Every time that for some reason I move to a big city, I try to contribute as much as I can, though.

Moreover, with a great pleasure I have found a custom in Thessaloniki that I actually found elsewhere before, such as in Gaziantep (Turkey): to leave a meal or something “pending” (literally) for those who need it.

I find it a wonderful thing that helps to understand how in reality it takes very little to help others, to feel useful and active parts of the civil society in which we live, wherever we are.

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I schedule my online activities within the ARSIS project at the beginning of every week and I try to stay strict to the plan, even if it happens that the guys and the girls are not always in the mood to attend the activities. I recall to myself that I am here to help, and it is right that everybody decides when and how to let people help them.

5 December was also International Volunteer Day. When I feel helpless, useless and almost angry because something uncontrollable is somehow ruining this experience, I realize that I am a volunteer who has come here to help people who are in need, no matter who, no matter how, it takes little to help others, it takes a big heart to be voluntary.

I look forward to go back to Thessaloniki, recharged by my beloved ones and full of energies😊

Stay safe.

Ilaria Moioli – ESC Volunteer (Sep. 2020 – May 2021)

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