Are you planning to sign up as a volunteer? Please read this information first, so you know what to expect and how the registration proceeds.


Mission and vision of Boat Refugee Foundation

Boat Refugee Foundation stands for the provision of humanitarian aid. We stand for humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independency. We provide help to those in need and focus on vulnerable refugees.

The work of the foundation in Lesvos has significantly changed over the past few years. In 2015 the foundation provided support with boat landings, a rescue mission and medical activities. Now, we try to deliver more customized work (such as education and social support) for the residents of the largest refugee camp on the island. This means an adjustment from direct to more structural provisions, within a strict frame and with a higher level of professionality. We could use your help and expertise in this very much.

What does Boat Refugee Foundation expects from you?


When you are hired as volunteer for Boat Refugee Foundation you work on behalf of the foundation. This comes with certain responsibilities. From you as volunteer, we expect a proper attitude just like you can expect that from our organization. We will explain this further in this document.

We expect you to conform to the mission and goals of the foundation and that you carry this out. We are a public foundation, without a religious background. A foundation for everyone, by everyone. Within the team of volunteers and among the boat refugees, there are many people with different beliefs and religions. We are there to provide help, despite someone’s background. We do not allow religion being preached or religious items (Bible, Koran etc.) being handed out.

Notification and social media

Please make sure that messages on, for example, your blog or social media, are in line with the vision of the Foundation, so that we all carry out the same message about the mission. Taking pictures of refugees within the camps are in agreement with the Greek government strictly forbidden. When doing this, the position of the Foundation in the camp and the possibility to work there will be at risk. Every now and then, the Foundation hires professional photographers or journalists who capture our work and projects. We have very strict agreements about this.


All volunteers are screened by staff members of Boat Refugee Foundation. We hold the same procedure for everyone: all applicants are screened the same way. It is not possible to apply as a group, since every person is screened individually. Neither can we take into account a group of people when it comes to creating a general planning or week schedule.

Missions Lesvos

At the moment we carry out two missions on Lesvos, the Psychosocial Support (PSS) mission and the Medical mission. An average PSS team exists of eight volunteers. For the Medical mission this comes to an average of twelve volunteers. We also welcome interpreters (about three per period) in our volunteer team, supporting both missions and we usually have one media volunteer present on Lesvos as well.

The PSS team and medical team are led by the PSS coordinator, the logistics & administrative coordinator and the medical coordinator.

Before you go to Lesvos, it is good to know that you will come across violent, inhuman conditions within the refugee camp. The situation in Moria is critical and unfortunately we cannot help everyone. This might be very frustrating and depressing for you, especially during the first few days. It is good to be prepared for this and to talk about it during your stay in Lesvos. The coordinators are always there for you to answer questions or help you process the first impressions.

Moria Camp

Moria is the largest refugee camp on Lesvos, run by the police and the army. Moria is a reception and identification center, in other words a hotspot. This means that all refugees who arrive on the island per boat, are taken to Moria for registration and to apply for asylum. After registration, the most vulnerable refugees and their families, are brought to different camps or shelters. If you would like to know more about the asylum procedure, you can visit > Asylum in Greece.

The number of residents in the camp fluctuates between 6000 and 7500. The camp was initially built for only 2000 residents, meaning for them to stay only a short period of time. Since the deal between the EU and Turkey, there are more people arriving then leaving the island, which results in a way too crowded camp. This has a huge impact on daily living conditions: improvised places to sleep and hygiene problems, caused by scarce sanitary conditions.

The refugee camp Moria gives you the feeling of a prison. The camp is divided in different sectors per nationality and there is an actual prison within the camp as well. It has limited facilities for the refugees. There are often fights or riots in the camp, most of the times caused by the bad status of the camp and the hopeless situation the refugees are in.

PSS Mission

The PSS programs are run from our Community Center in Moria.  Our PSS mission strives to empower people. This means that our programs are run by refugees as much as possible. For example, man and woman who are teachers in their own country, are teaching in our schools. Refugees who speak multiple languages fluently, help with the translation of our workshops. The interior of our Community Center is made by carpenters from different countries. Boat Refugee Foundation facilitates, supports and guides the programs where needed. We do not offer one-on-one consults or psychotherapy.

The PSS team exists or teachers, social workers, psychologists and other relevant psychosocial professions. We offer a varied activity program. The first shift starts at 9 AM, the last shifts end around 10 PM. You have time to prepare your activities outside your shifts. As volunteer you work an average of 4-7 hours per day, 6 days a week.

A few days per week there are meetings scheduled for PSS volunteers in the volunteer house called “The Mansion”. During these meetings you will discuss the work schedule, are you able to ask questions, will you evaluate the programs and activities and will you talk about your experiences. Also several trainings are given. Besides these meetings and trainings, you will have dinner together with the whole team every day. Finally, a meeting is held every other week on Tuesday with the full BRF team, followed by a team lunch.


1. Moria School of Hope
Part of the Community Center is Moria School of Hope. Here we provide classes for both children (6-10 years old) and adults.

The children go to class five mornings per week, learning English and math. The classes are given in their mother tongue (mostly Farsi and Arabic) and taught by teachers who are refugees their selves and live in Moria as well. The PSS team supports these teachers by helping them prepare and organize their classes, offering supplies needed and recruiting new students or teachers. At this moment 80 children are registered in one of our classes.

Three times a week we offer English classes for adults. These classes are also given by teachers living in Moria. The PSS team supports them too with the organization and preparation of classes. We offer three different levels of English. The classes are mostly practical and focus on the use of English in daily life.

2. Social shift
Five days a week the social shift finds place in the camp. During this shift, a small team of volunteers is walking through the camp, mainly to have conversations with refugees in the camp. The shift includes multiple tasks. First of all we offer refugees to listen to their stories, in case they feel the need to talk. The social shift is also a good way to get to know the people in the camp and inform them when necessary about our programs. During the social shift we can also inform parents and their children how they can register for the School of Hope and hand out flyers when we start a new program.

3. Emotional well-being workshop

Several days a week there is an emotional well-being workshop, meant for men and women of 18 years and older. This workshop offers psycho education about several subjects concerning mental healthcare, as a lot of people living in Moria have to deal with this every day. Having trouble sleeping, stress, anxiety, coping mechanism and suicidal thoughts are a few examples. We stimulate the exchange of experiences and advice. The workshop is given by someone of the PSS team, in cooperation with a translator.

4. Stress Relief Class
Several days a week, Boat Refugee Foundation organizes a Stress Relief class for men and women of 18 years and older. The Stress Relief class is a practical training in decreasing psychological and psychosomatic problems. For the training we use the basic technics of mindfulness and relaxation. The training is given by someone of the PSS team in cooperation with a interpreter.

5. Library

There is a library in our Community Centre where we have English, French, Farsi and Arabic books for adults and children. The library is open on fixed hours during the week, for everyone who is interested. There are a few librarians, all residents of Moria, who run the library, make an inventory and control the lending system.

Medical Mission

The purpose of the medical mission is to improve the quality of life in Moria, by increasing the accessibility of medical care and by making sure there are always doctors present in the camp.
We do this by providing primary care and limited emergency care from a clinic in the camp during night shifts. The clinic is fully run by our volunteers and often supported by interpreters from the camp. For our work we keep close contact with the Greek government, other medical NGO’s and the local hospital.

1. Team composition
The medical team exists of doctors, nurses and a support crew. The doctors and nurses usually have a background as general practitioner or in tropical medicine, emergency care, psychiatry or another clinical specialism. Their experiences vary from veterans with thirty years of experience to volunteers in their twenties, often studying for a specialization. All these differences contribute to the strength of the team. Because no background is the perfect preparation for all the patients we see, it is a big plus that we can complete each other.

Next to the medical volunteer, the team usually has a support crew. The support crew consists of volunteers without a specific (medical) degree, but with a common background: standing their ground, strong social skills and the ability to organize. Their job is mostly crowd control and patients support outside the clinic.

2. Procedure and shifts
From our clinic in a cabin we offer medical care to refugees who are living in camp Moria. Our clinic is open 7 days a week from 5 PM to 12 AM. During the day, medical care is provided by a Greek government agency and other NGO’s.

All medical volunteers (including support crew) work 6 days a week, 8 hours a day (including a break). Outside these shifts you are off, but several things need to be done in and around the house and clinic, like supplying materials and the sterilization of equipment. For these tasks we make a schedule.

Twice a day we have a medical meeting in the volunteer house for all team members. During these meetings we discuss relevant casuistry, developments and there is time to ask questions. Furthermore, several trainings are given in for example psychological first aid and cultural awareness. Besides the meetings and trainings, you usually have dinner together. Every other week on Tuesday there is another meeting with the complete BRF team, followed by a team lunch.

3. Target group and psychiatry

The medical mission of Boat Refugee Foundation, focusses partly on primary care and limited emergency aid. We restrict ourselves to new created problems or immediate worsening of chronical problems.

The problems that we see vary from flu-like symptoms to life threatening conditions, strongly emphasizing the psychological problems. Almost all refugees in Moria are fled because of war or prosecution and often victims of (sexual) violence during their journey to Greece. This, combined with the horrible living conditions in the camp, is causing PTSD symptoms and often panic attacks among many of the refugees. Our job is to provide psychological first aid, taking care of acute problems like panic attacks and to refer if possible. The latter is to our frustration often quite difficult because of a very restricted offer in psychological and psychiatric help.

To get you prepared as much as possible, you will receive medical protocols far in advance before you leave. We will ask you to study these protocols very well.


Two volunteer houses: The Mansion & The Castle

The two volunteer houses of Boat Refugee Foundation are located near the airport and accommodate our volunteers. The Mansion is the spot where we have our meetings and dinners together, where you can relax and socialize with other volunteers. It is also the start from where we leave for our shifts. The house has the feeling and facilities of a hostel. You share a room with a maximum of four others (male and female). Be aware that you and your roomies might have different shifts. The other house “The Castle” is only a few minutes by car from “The Mansion”. To live in one of the volunteer houses, you pay 10 euro per day for the first 30 days. From the 2nd month, your accommodation is free.

It is not mandatory to live in one of the houses. You can choose to look for another accommodation yourself. When you decide not to live in any of the volunteer houses, please inform the planner about this!

Car Rental

Boat Refugee Foundation has a few team cars available for the volunteers. These cars can be used to drive between the camp and the house. It is mandatory to have a drivers license that is valid in Greece and you need to be able to drive a manual car. It might occur that you have to drive on the island yourself or in case of an evacuation it is important that everyone knows how to drive a manual car.

Initially the cars are only meant to be used for shifts and doing grocery shopping for the volunteer house. In case you would like to use one of the cars privately, make sure to discuss this with your colleagues first.

Work related car and gas use is covered by the foundation. Do you have a day off, one of the cars is free and you would like to use it? Then you pay 15 euro for that day and you need to fill up the tank to the level it was before you left.

Screening and registration

The steps for screening, planning and registration are as follows:

1. Screening

You applied via the website. One of the screeners will contact you via e-mail and will send you more information about the work in Lesvos. Next, the screener will contact you by phone for a selection interview. During the interview the screener will ask some questions about your work experience and personality and you will also have the chance to ask questions. After the screening, the screener will let you know whether you are found suitable to volunteer in Lesvos and will send you through to the planner.

2. Planning

You have been forwarded to the planner of the PSS-team or the Medical team. The planner will discuss your travel date with you and together you determine which period would be best. It might happen that your availability does not entirely match the planning. The planner will then ask you to contact us again at a later moment, so you could volunteer at another time. Once you and the planner agreed on a date, you can book your ticket. If you find a ticket that differs from the expected arrival date, please contact the planner first before booking the ticket.

3. Registration

You will only get access to the refugee camp when you are registered. For you registration, we need several documents. Therefore, please make sure to send all documents in time to The planner will provide you with the necessary information. From all volunteers we need the following:

  1. A copy of your passport (PDF or JPEG)
  2. Official passport photo (JPEG)
  3. A signed volunteer statement
  4. Your contact details (for our administration, emergency and debriefing). You will receive a link to fill out a form.

Besides the documents above, we need additional information from our medical volunteers. They will receive more information about this in a separate message.