#ArtIsMyLife | Therese

Giorgos Moutafis for SolidarityNow

“We sing Congolese gospel. The Bible says that to sing is to pray twice”

Therese, 30 years old, comes from Congo. She studied to become a nurse but her dream was to work in the music field. As a teenager she was singing in a band. When she announced to her father her decision to study music, he tried to change her mind by saying that she would not be able to find a proper job with such a degree. “Music is my passion. However, by listening to my father’s words, I was discouraged and decided to give it up. When I got my degree, I couldn’t find a job and I blamed my father for that”, says Therese.

It took her a long time to sing again. During that time, she had to leave Congo and travel alone to Greece. It was a difficult journey. Her first stop was in Lesvos. She moved to *Volvi on September 2017. “At the beginning I was sad. I was going to church, but I was just an observer. I was quite shy, and I did not want to participate in any activities. Moreover, I was not in the mood to connect with people”, Therese tells us. In December 2017, two Congolese, Richard and Moria, formed their own band in Volvi. They have been singing gospels every Sunday in the church. But the woman’s voice was missing from their band. So, Richard approached Therese and invited her to participate in the band. At the beginning she refused, but Richard insisted, and Therese became the first female member of the band. “We sing Congolese gospel. The Bible says that to sing is to pray twice. That’s why I want to sing and pray”, she notes. We ask her about her relationship with the rest of the band, which now is consisted of 3 women and 2 men. “We complete each other, and we are all equal. We never fight. Sometimes, I argue with Moria but we are actually teasing each other as we are very good friends. One word that describes our band is solidarity”, underlines Therese.

Therese has been given asylum status in Greece and wishes to live here. Her primary concern is to find a job in order to be independent. She has already applied for many jobs with the assistance of the NGO Caritas. This month, she is meeting with one of SolidarityNow’s  Employability Consultants. “I really want to find a job, because staying here (in Volvi) and doing nothing gets me stressed. It’s not good to sit and just do nothing”, she says. Therese would like to use her diploma and work as a nurse, but she knows that at this stage the lack of Greek language skills is an obstacle. “I cannot work as a nurse. I do not speak Greek, but I’m ready to do everything, to work as a housekeeper, as a babysitter, I can do everything. I know I’ll find something”.

*Therese is a beneficiary of the Child and Family Support Hubs program, which is implemented by SolidarityNow, supported by UNICEF, with funding from the European Commission’s humanitarian aid department (ECHO).

**The Organisation Internationale De La Francophonie (OIF) finances French language courses for asylum seekers in Athens and Thessaloniki.

*** Iliaktida as UNHCR’s partner has the management of Volvi Accommodation Scheme, through IATAP