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26 Nov

If you are considering signing up as a volunteer, please read this information first to understand what to expect and how the registration process works. The first section provides general information that applies to all volunteers. Afterward, there is a chapter specific to the location you will be going to.


Our mission
Boat Refugee Foundation is committed to providing humanitarian aid. We adhere to the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence. We offer assistance to those in need and focus on people who have been forced to flee their homes.

The organization’s work has evolved over the years. We have been active or have worked on various programs at different locations. Currently, we are in Lesvos and Athens.

In 2015, our work in Lesbos primarily involved providing aid after boat landings, conducting rescue operations, and medical work. Now, we aim to provide more customized support, including (psycho)social assistance and medical help for the population of the refugee camp on the island. We couldn’t do this without our volunteers!

Starting from 2022, we are also active in Athens, where the urban environment presents new challenges for our organization and those seeking assistance. In Athens, we focus on establishing connections between individuals in need and the right organizations. We provide psychosocial support and conduct capacity-building training for organizations operating in Athens.

What do we expect from you?
We expect you to align with the program and objectives of the organization and to promote them. We are an organization that includes people from various backgrounds and beliefs within the volunteer team and the people we assist. We are here to provide help, regardless of someone’s background.

We provide medical care in the largest refugee camp on Lesvos.

When you choose to work with Boat Refugee Foundation, it is crucial that you are aware of the socio-political context of the location you are heading to. The organisation makes every effort to ensure the safety of its staff. Therefore, we have strict safety policies in place, and it is expected that all volunteers and staff adhere to them. You will receive a comprehensive safety briefing upon your arrival.

What can you expect from us?

We expect a high degree of flexibility from our volunteers because the fieldwork experiences rapid and significant changes. We prioritize providing comprehensive support to everyone. Before your departure, we aim to inform you as effectively as possible, and you will have the opportunity to ask questions. During and after your stay, you can speak with a psychologist or coach to discuss your experiences. Additionally, there will always be a point of contact during your stay to address any questions or concerns.

We have collected several training modules to prepare you as effectively as possible. Regular training sessions will also be organized during your stay.

From our mobile clinic, we provide medical (emergency) care to people in the camp.
Screening and Registration

All volunteers are screened by volunteers from Stichting Bootvluchteling. We follow the same procedure for everyone: every individual is screened in the same manner and must meet the same basic requirements. You can find these requirements in the job description. Group registration is not possible. We are also unable to consider multiple people in planning the general schedule and weekly rosters.

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

1. Screening
You apply through the website. A screener will contact you by email within 7 days and provide you with information. After that, the screener will conduct an interview with you via video call, during which the code of conduct will also be discussed. In the interview, the screener will ask about your work experience and personality, and you will have the opportunity to ask questions. After this screening, the screener will inform you if you are suitable to work at the location you applied for. However, your position in the team is not guaranteed at this stage. Depending on team composition and your availability, a decision will be made on your placement as a volunteer. You will coordinate this with the planner.

2. Planning
After a positive screening interview, our planner will contact you. Together with you, the planner will coordinate your travel dates. Once your availability aligns with our schedule and you have finalized your travel dates with the planner’s approval, you can book your tickets. We recommend arriving on Lesbos on a Thursday, so you can get acclimated with introductions and training. There is no fixed arrival date for other locations. If you find a ticket with a different arrival date, please consult with the planner before booking.

3. Registration
Once your travel dates are confirmed, you will receive necessary information from the planner about the registration process. 

Before understanding what documents to supply for the registration process the following information is important to understand. Camp Mavrovouni was reclassified as a CCAC (Closed Controlled Access Camp) through a presidential decree. As a result of this reclassification, all non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating within CCACs are required to officially register with the Greek government to continue their activities within the camp.

After navigating a rigorous registration process, we are successfully registered with the Ministry of Migration and Asylum. While this official status ensures the protection of our work, it also entails adherence to specific registration requirements.

All volunteers and staff members associated with an NGO working in the camp must be registered through the portal facilitated by the Greek office for registration and migration. This necessitates the uploading of documentation previously shared with Boat Refugee Foundation onto this portal.

Given the novelty of this registration process, we anticipate some initial challenges. Please take note of the following key points:

  1. Upon receipt of your documents, including translations, we will commence the registration process with the office. They retain the authority to deny or request additional information within 60 days of submission. In the event of a request for additional information, we must respond within a 10-day window.
  2. According to article 10 of the decree no. 10616/2020 from the Greek authorities, the register will be maintained as long as our organization remains active in Greece. However, it remains unclear whether your details will be removed from their database upon your departure (as mandated by the General Data Protection Regulation). You may need to personally request the removal of your information.

We require the following from all volunteers:

  • A copy of your passport
  • A signed volunteer contract, code of conduct, solemn declaration, solemn self-declaration
  • A completed form with your contact information
  • Criminal Record Check (VOG) (requested for Dutch volunteers after passport submission)
  • Criminal Record Check (VOG) translated into Greek by a sworn translator

For the registration of medical and MHPSS (Mental Health and Psychosocial Support) volunteers, the Greek government requires additional documents. For medical volunteers, the following documents are required:

  • Copy of diploma
  • Diploma translated into Greek
  • Apostille
  • CCPS (BIG registration)
  • CCPS translated into Greek
  • TELIKO registration form

For MHPSS volunteers, the following documents are required:

  • Diploma relevant to MHPSS work
  • Diploma translated into Greek
  • Registration with a psychological or professional organization (optional)

4. Preparation
Once you are invited to complete the registration, you will also gain access to the Shared Drive for your location. Here, you will find information about the location you are heading to, the context in which you will be working, and training modules that we expect you to complete before your departure.

As an external volunteer, you will work with our interpreter team; volunteers who live in the camp.

Before you leave

Are you going to Athens or Lesvos? Click below for more information.


The teams are led by the area manager, who is also responsible for the support crew and external translators. The MHPSS coordinator is in charge of the MHPSS team.


In Athens, we witness the consequences of the long-standing flow of people on the run and the measures of the current ruling political party, which seeks strict measures against those seeking refuge. As a result, and combined with Athens being the capital of Greece, demonstrations frequently occur, which can escalate into violence. Although you can work more easily in the metropolis and enjoy more anonymity, safety measures are still in place. Upon arrival, you will receive a comprehensive briefing on these safety measures.

Accommodation and transport

In Athens, you are responsible for finding your own accommodation. We allocate our financial resources primarily to medical and psychological assistance. Consequently, we ask all volunteers to cover their travel and accommodation expenses themselves. To assist with the higher costs of living in Athens, you can declare your rent up to a maximum of €300 per month. Additionally, public transportation costs to and from work are reimbursed. You will receive more information on this when you arrive in Athens.


Our Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) team in Athens provides services aimed at the well-being of individuals who are refugees and migrants living in Athens. Our team supports them to become more resilient and independent.

Our MHPSS team, consisting of a psychologist, a social worker, and volunteers with backgrounds in mental health care, offers various forms of psychological and psychosocial support. Our team employs a strength-based, integrated, and multidisciplinary approach to enhance people's resilience, using their own knowledge and skills as a starting point. We aim to empower, motivate, guide, inform, and connect individuals, enabling them to take control of their lives and assert their rights.

Our MHPSS team provides psychosocial support, including individual psychological support sessions, individual case management, and activities in psychosocial support groups.

Before heading to Lesbos, it's essential to understand that you'll be facing challenging and inhumane conditions in the refugee camp. The situation in the camp is often described as hopeless and desperate. As an organization, we can't assist everyone with everything, and especially in the initial days, you might feel discouraged or frustrated as a result. It's good to prepare for this and discuss it with others during your stay in Lesbos.

The coordinators are always there to answer your questions and help you process your initial impressions. There are also options to speak with a coach or a psychologist.


The inhumane situation in Lesbos has persisted for several years. It's not just the refugees who are kept in these deplorable conditions; the local residents of Lesbos have also been overwhelmed for years. This often leads to tensions on the island, which can quickly escalate into demonstrations, riots, clashes, or even violence directed at people in the camp, journalists, and aid workers. Depending on which side expresses their grievances, these tensions may focus in and around the refugee camp or in the center of Mytilini.

Organizational Structure

The teams are led by the Area Manager. The MHPSS Coordinator is responsible for the MHPSS team, the Medical Coordinator oversees the medical professionals, and the Volunteer Coordinator manages the support crew, external translators, and community staff.

Volunteer accommodation

As a volunteer, you can stay in our volunteer house in Mytilini. Here, you can relax and socialize with other volunteers. It also serves as the starting point for our services. The house has the feel and facilities of a hostel. You'll share your room with up to four others (both males and females). To live in the volunteer house, you'll pay €10 per day for the first 30 days. From the second month onward, your stay is free.

You're not obligated to stay in the house. You can choose to find your own accommodation, but we recommend staying as close to the center as possible since you'll frequently be in this area.

Driver's license

Boat Refugee Foundation has several team cars available for volunteers. These cars can be used to travel between the camp and your residence. It's mandatory to have a valid driver's license in Greece and be able to drive a manual car. Sometimes, you may need to drive alone on the island, and in case of evacuations, it's crucial that everyone can operate the vehicle.

Mavrovouni camp

Mavrovouni Camp was previously a Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) but is now formally categorized as a Closed Control Access Camp (CCAC) by presidential decree (source: https://migration.gov.gr/en/ris/organogramma-ypyt/).

Compared to Moria and the early days of CCAC Mavrovouni, living conditions in the camp have improved. The tents have been replaced by Refugee Housing Units (RHU) by the end of 2021, meaning everyone now stays in iso-boxes, RHUs, or Rub-halls with access to hot water and electricity (although not always reliable). However, due to the recent increase in arrivals on Lesbos, there are not always enough accommodations available, resulting in limited privacy and rest for newcomers.

The weather conditions at this coastal location are harsh, with high winds. Summers are hot and dry with little shade, while winters are very cold and wet, with limited shelter.

In 2022, the number of people arriving on the island increased by 164.8% compared to 2021. 476 boats reached the Greek islands, bringing 11,496 people. The number of incoming boats increased by 158.7% compared to 2021 when 184 boats arrived with 4,342 people. 26,133 people were illegally pushed back by the Greek authorities. Source: 2022 annual report, Aegean Boat Report: https://aegeanboatreport.com/annual-reports/.

RSA - Refugee Support Aegean provides an extensive look at the current situation on Lesbos. Learn about the challenges faced by refugees, camp conditions, and the tireless efforts of organizations striving for a better future. Read the full article here: https://rsaegean.org/en/lesvos-2023/.

Medical program

The medical program aims to improve the quality of life in the camp by increasing access to medical care and ensuring that medical personnel are always present in the camp.

Team composition

The medical team comprises doctors, nurses, and support crew volunteers. The doctors and nurses typically have backgrounds in emergency care, general practice, tropical medicine, psychiatry, or other clinical specialties. Their experience varies widely, from veterans with thirty years of experience to those in their late twenties. The support crew assists the medical team.

Approach and services

From our clinic, we provide medical care to camp residents. Our clinic is open seven days a week from 17:00 to 00:00. We also provide daytime care on weekends and holidays.

MHPSS program

MHPSS stands for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support. In addition to medical support, we aim to provide mental support to the people residing in Mavrovouni. The MHPSS team consists of 3-4 volunteers. The activities of the MHPSS team include:

- MHPSS consultations during medical services

- Follow-up consultations after medical services

- Referrals to other organizations where possible

Overview costs
Boat Refugee Foundation’s existence depends on the many volunteers and donors, without which we’d not be able to do our job. Our financial means are mostly spent on medical and psychosocial care. That is why we ask all volunteers to pay for their own registration, travel and stay. 

Apply now

Have you carefully reviewed the information and feel adequately informed? If you have not done so already, please apply as a volunteer by filling out the application form for the position that interests you. If you have any questions, please contact us for more information or ask your questions during the screening interview.

We have a number of team cars available for our volunteers.

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