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SLOWLY BACK TO…

January was the month of returns…

After the Christmas holidays, I was ready to go back to Greece. However, the flight I had booked for 3 January was cancelled and so I extended my stay in Italy by a week. On 10 January, everything was ready. In the morning, due to the coronavirus checks, I almost missed my flight. In a desperate rush I arrived at the closed gate, but the stewardesses let me on. I am seated. We take off!

I relaxed, but the adrenaline didn’t leave my body. After about two hours of flight and some turbulence, the pilot informed all the passengers that, due to the weather conditions, it was not possible to land in Thessaloniki. The flight was diverted to Sofia in Bulgaria. BULGARIA??!!

Ilaria Miaoli January 2021

We landed in a snowy Sofia and, after a couple of hours waiting on the plane parked at the airport, we discovered that it was still not possible to fly to our destination. We had no choice but to take the bus that Ryanair had kindly organized for us. It was a five-hour journey along a section of the Balkan route. There were less than 20 of us on the flight, almost all Italians who had moved to Greece for love, study or work. We immediately made friends and became fellow adventurers! I am pretty sure that when we will be able to travel again, I will certainly have many people to visit scattered around Greece!

At 9 p.m. we finally arrived at Thessaloniki airport and, exhausted, I went home to my flatmates.

Thessaloniki was in lockdown for the whole month of January, but there were improvements. Some shops have slowly started to open again, more people are moving through the streets, all diligently wearing masks. I tried to go out as little as possible, only for shopping at the supermarket and for my daily walk. It is very important for me to take all possible measures to avoid being infected, because even though I continue my project thanks to the online, I hope to return to work in person soon.

Patience and shrewdness have somehow paid off! Since a couple of weeks, we have been allowed to visit our projects in person once or twice a week! it was great to go back to the puppies at the House of Arsis!!

Ilaria Miaoli January 2021 2

Everyone – the children, the young people, the staff, the coordinator – welcomed me back with an affection that squeezed my heart, and I really felt at home again.

It was difficult to explain to the children why I had been away for so long, but patiently, one by one, I tried to stress the importance of their health and mine, and I understood their difficulties in managing online activities.

In just a few days, they made me feel part of their everyday life again: school, games, football matches, just dance and the play station, English questions, French homework, new haircuts…!! Yeees, I am definitely back to their realities!!!!

My return also caused me a note of sadness when I discovered that 8 of the children and young people I had met had been transferred to other facilities, more compatible with their needs. In their place, new children, some shyer, some more outgoing. The life of these children and youngsters is constantly changing, my task is also to accompany them on this hard path of obstacles and many changes.

I have been back this month: back to Greece, back to my housemates, back to work, back to the House of Arsis… But the only thing I have to do, is looking forward!

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

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