Omar Alshakal is Refugee4Refugee’s Director and Co-founder. Omar works on the ground on a daily basis and oversees the NGO’s entire operations. As a Syrian refugee himself, he brings invaluable insight when designing and implementing humanitarian aid interventions from a practical perspective, using a beneficiary approach to best serve the refugee communities in both Lesvos and Samos. In emergency situations, Omar’s responsiveness is extremely fast, often taking the role of mediator and always knowing what to do, who to talk to and how to keep everyone safe. Omar is an incredible human and humanitarian. He fights inequality every single day and his drive to help everyone in need is extremely contagious.
Omar fled his home town of Deir Ez-Zor in 2014 after ISIS took control and he was severely injured during a missile strike. He swam for 14 hours from Turkey to Greece to reach safety and, after witnessing the humanitarian crisis that was taking place in Lesvos, he co-founded Refugee4Refugees in April 2017. Nowadays, the NGO is working in both Lesvos and Samos, growing step by step to increase the impact and quality of its interventions.
Imaya is the Head of Operations and Co-founder of Refugee4Refugees. She has been volunteering in Lesvos since 2016 and together with Omar, created our organization in 2017 in order to provide emergency relief and sustainable support to asylum seekers upon their arrival to the shores of the Greek island of Lesvos. Imaya is a “jack of all trades” and is responsible for overseeing the NGO’s field operations in both Samos and Lesvos. Amongst many other things, she is in charge of managing fundraising initiatives and building long-term sustainable relationships with the NGO’s donors and partners, both locally on the Aegean islands and internationally. Imaya is one of the main pillars of this organization, with vast experience in humanitarian and development programs in the field. Her technical expertise has been instrumental to in defining the strategy and organizational structure of Refugee4Refugees and hence enabling the sustainable growth of the organization.
Imaya compliments her vast experience in the field with a solid academic background that is directly applicable to the work that Refugee4Refugees undertakes in the field. Having graduated with a Law degree in Spain’s Basque Country, she is currently studying a second degree in Social Work whilst working full-time at Refugee4Refugees, a true testament to her intellectual and professional capacity. She has volunteered in various different initiatives for the last ten years and has also lived in India and Italy.
Ines is Refugee4Refugees’ Field Coordinator in Lesvos, where she is in charge of leading the NGO’s operations in the field. Through her experience in humanitarian, development and private sector contexts, Ines has brought an exceptional level of professionalism to our NGO, optimizing the management of our activity from a strategic, relational and administrative point of view. She is in charge of supervising the work of the current Volunteer and Project Coordinators, managing financial reporting, fostering donor relationships, acting as a liaison with other NGOs and Greek authorities and devising numerous documents for the accountability of our operations. Ines is extremely resourceful when it comes to her management capabilities, but she also has a great sense of humor and wit, something tremendously valuable when working in contexts where there is so much suffering.
Ines was born in Madrid, Spain but has struggled to stay in one country for too long. She graduated in International Business Management in Edinburgh, Scotland, but has also lived and worked in England, China, Australia, Kenya and now Greece. She has worked in the field of international development as well as in the energy sector as a strategy consultant. She has now decided to leverage all her skills towards the humanitarian field by coming back to Lesvos for a third time.
Ana is one of our Volunteer and Project Coordinators in Lesvos. She is in charge of running the educational and social activities with the children currently living in Moria Camp and does so with tremendous amounts of energy and sensitivity, keeping children engaged in the process. She is in charge of ensuring that our project provides a safe place for the children to express themselves and have fun, something that she has managed to do with relentless passion and ability. Furthermore, Ana coordinates our cleaning project, both in the surroundings of Moria Camp and throughout the beaches of the south shores of Lesvos. She is also responsible for managing the volunteers during the recruitment process and throughout their stay with Refugee4Refugees, including both international and community volunteers that live in the refugee camps of the island. She oversees their work and helps those with experience and those without in order to provide the necessary support to create a team atmosphere that allows for the effective implementation of our projects.
Ana was born in Brazil and is a psychology student who decided to take a gap year from university to be able to come to Greece and acquire practical knowledge that is directly relevant to her field of studies. Through her work, Ana has proven to be an incredibly compassionate soul, providing direct support to refugees living in the island, always looking to get to know people’s names and listen to their stories. She has had the opportunity to visit different countries, learn various languages and meet a lot of special people along the way.
Mohammed is one of our Volunteer and Project Coordinators in Lesvos. He is in charge of our clothing and hygiene item distribution project. Mohammad is the lead coordinator of our “Free shopping experience” distribution warehouse in Moria village, where families come on a daily basis to choose the clothes that they want in a space that is set up like any other clothing shop. He makes sure that every person that comes to our “shop” can get the things that they need, which also includes a hygiene pack. For this, he is also in charge of organizing our storage warehouse, where we sort and store all of our donated items in order for them to be ready when the “shop” needs restocking. He leads our distribution project and manages our team of volunteers whilst retaining a team-player attitude, making him a respected and beloved person in all group contexts.
Mohammad is from Iraq. He left his hometown back in 2013, running away from war and all the destruction it brought with it. Mohammad’s hopes and dreams kept him moving forward through his journey, from Iraq to Syria to Turkey and finally Greece. Mohammad like thousands of other refugees had to go on one of the most dangerous treks across the sea in attempt to make it to Greece. It has been 3 years since Mohammad arrived at Lesvos and since then, he has volunteered his time and effort to help hundreds of other refugees, spreading love and hope for a better future.
ANNE VAN dongen
Anne is our Field Coordinator in Samos. She is in charge of leading all of the NGO’s projects in the island, which are aimed to provide support to the refugee community currently living in Vathi Camp and its surroundings. She currently manages our volunteers from the recruitment stages and throughout their stay with Refugee4Refugees, including both international and community volunteers that live in the refugee camps of the island. Anne is responsible for our “Free shop” distribution warehouse, our storage warehouse, and our burgeoning children recreational activities. Due to the increasing overcapacity in Vathi Camp, the hygiene conditions have become a serious health hazard. Anne, together with our volunteer dream team, also coordinates our cleaning project within the surroundings of Vathi Camp in order to improve the living conditions of the people living there.
After studying Hotel and Event Management in Utrecht, Netherlands, Anne graduated with a degree in Business Administration. She has always had a passion for helping others, which is why she has previously volunteered for long periods of time not only in Greece but also in South Africa. After reading about Refugee4Refugees’ post about the new projects in Samos, Anne got in contact with the NGO, and without missing a beat, she decided to come the next day. In Samos, she has been able to combine her organization and business skills with her passion to help people.
Janine came to Lesvos to join Refugee4Refugees in October 2018 as a volunteer, always willing to lend a hand in any and all of the NGO’s projects with a positive and proactive attitude. She is still supporting the NGO by utilizing her technological prowess to manage our social media accounts from back home in Switzerland. She has been instrumental in telling the NGO’s stories and sharing our vision with the world.
Janine is from Zurich, Switzerland and in 2016, after watching the refugee crisis as it exploded across Europe, she decided to quit her job and offer her help and assistance to refugees in Idomeni, Greece. After this experience she returned home but, not long after, she felt compelled to return and take a leave of absence in order to continue to contribute her grain of sand. Janine currently works as a Digital Producer for a TV production company back in Switzerland.
Elena has collaborated with Refugee4Refugees on numerous occasions, and as such, she has become a key member of our team. Since 2017, Elena has been a key member of our team, in charge of leading and coordinating fundraising efforts in order to obtain the necessary funding to keep our operations running to the highest of standards. Furthermore, Elena, who is currently based in the Basque Country, Spain, has been the person in charge of managing the complex logistics of collecting, storing and shipping containers filled with various clothing and hygiene item donations, amongst other things, from Spain to Greece.
Elena studied Physiotherapy at the Basque Country in Spain and completed a Master's degree in the field of neuro-rehabilitation. Since 2011, she has been a part of the Scout group "Txispeleta Eskaut Taldea", where she is now the coordinator responsible for training fellow Scout members.