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Alumna volunteer in Syrian refugee camp reports from the field

April 7, 2016
CBC North

Master of Arts in Human Security and Peacebuilding alumna (2011) Shelley Williamson travelled from her home in the Yukon this month to volunteer in a Syrian refugee camp at the Greece/Macedonia border.

A volunteer with Nuture Project International, a non-profit organization that supports safe infant feeding among families impacted by crisis and disaster, Williamson was interviewed by CBC North’s Sandi Coleman on the A New Day radio program.

Here is an excerpt from the interview:

“We are about 3,300 people and about 20 kilometres away from the bigger camp of 12,000 people [Idomeni]. We are more or less a pilot project so we had to hit the ground running, and the need was so dire that we’ve expanded from a little UNHCR tent to two great big tents – we are growing by the day.”

Asked if she was ready for what she found in the camps after leaving her home in the Yukon, William said,

“You can’t replace the dirt and the smell and the sound and the feelings with the TV screen or the computer screen. The conditions are pretty desperate. There are all these people living in small tents that you would take on a two-day camping trip. It's getting hot – they’ve just endured muddy and rainy conditions, and now it is hot every day. The food distribution has long waits; it’s hard to stay clean and healthy. The mothers in particular are taking care of anyone. The big organizations are here, but the gaps are huge.”

Listen to the entire interview.