My Trip to Greece

Over my spring break this year, I had the fantastic opportunity travel to Greece for a week (plus two half days) to work with a non-profit organization called Threads of Hope. The organization, which was started in 2011 and officially recognized in 2014, employs women who have been victimized by the sex-trafficking industry. The women go through training where they are taught sewing and invaluable life skills, and then are employed making bags sold by Threads of Hope to support the costs of running the organization. (To donate, read more, or to shop the products the women make, visit the Threads of Hope website!)

I first heard about this opportunity from a family friend who has been living in Greece with her husband and kids for the past several years. From the moment I heard about it, my curiosity was peaked, and I wanted to learn more. Towards the end of the summer, I was able to meet Cecilia, the director of the organization over dinner when she came to the US to raise support. By the end of the night, she invited me to come out for a few days to see what the organization was doing in real time, and that’s exactly what I did! I was really lucky to be able to spend the week with the family friend who started it all and her family, who made wonderful hosts (and tour guides and translators) as I explored the area!

While the details of the entire trip would take up multiple pages, I’ve condensed everything down into my favorite moments from each day! If you’re interested in reading more about my trip, you can check out my daily travel log on my wordpress site!

DAY 1 (Friday):

Getting flowers from my host mother when I arrived at the airport in the afternoon! Flowers are my favorite things, and it was such a sweet gesture… it’s all about the little things!

DAY 2 (Saturday):

Despite the fact that the day was uncharacteristically cold and rainy, I loved just hanging out with my host family by the fire. The downtime was much-needed after the previous full day of flights too, so it worked out perfectly.

DAY 3 (Sunday):

Following a morning service at a historic church in Athens, I got to take a long walk around the older part of the city center, which included great food, souvenir shopping, and spectacular views of the city and the Acropolis.

DAY 4 (Monday):

My first day in the Threads of Hope office/workroom. I loved being able to meet the five amazing women who are currently employed by the organization, as well as see Cecilia in action. I also got to meet the newest addition to the Threads of Hope team, a recent college graduate from Canada who just moved to Greece and will be staying for the year!

DAY 5 (Tuesday)

After work on Tuesday, I got the chance to hang out with Ellen for a few hours! We grabbed lunch before spending some time shopping around in the garment district, and I really enjoyed getting to know her a bit better.

DAY 6 (Wednesday)

When I came into work on Monday, Ellen and I started working on a new bag style that she’d prototyped over the weekend, and since then I’d been spending a good portion of my time working on recreating a second bag. On Wednesday, one of the girls who’s worked at Threads of Hope the longest was tasked with doing a third bag in the new style, and she totally ran with it. By the end of the day, she was way ahead of me and had put about 75% percent of her bag together just by looking at the prototype and using techniques from other bag styles she’s worked on. My favorite part of that day was definitely seeing her enthusiasm and ambition shine, and watching her get excited about her own work! While that may not seem like much, all of the girls started training at Threads of Hope with zero sewing experience, and the fact that she was able to draw from everything she’d learned in order to construct a totally unfamiliar style so quickly was really impressive and fun to watch!

DAY 7 (Thursday)

Finally getting down to the ocean! Despite eating out by the shore a couple times early in the week, I hadn’t had a chance to actually be on the beach yet. Even though it wasn’t high season, and no one was in the water, I couldn’t fathom being in Greece without at least dipping my toes in the water (which didn’t end up being as cold as I thought!)

DAY 8 (Friday)

Shopping in the local downtown area! For my last night, I went shopping with my host family’s mother and oldest daughter and totally had a blast! I’m so used to shopping by myself and being in and out quickly, but I really enjoyed the girl time and having some outside input on my picks!

DAY 9 (Saturday)

Painting with my host family’s youngest daughter! I almost never get downtime to paint for fun, so this was a rare opportunity. Plus I was in the company of a mini painting prodigy, which made it even more fun!

DAY 10 (Sunday)

While this technically wasn’t part of my time in Greece, my journey home included an overnight pit stop in the UK, and I was able to spend most of the day roaming around London and checking out some of the major touristy sights!

PC: Christiana Sallard