Time2Give: Laundry service on the Island of Lesvos
Cisco employee, Emil Niclas Hofseth spent almost a month volunteering at one of Europe´s largest refugee camps. – My first world problems were set on hold. This is his story.
It’s been a couple of months since returning from Mytilene on the island of Lesvos, Europe’s frontier towards the constant flow of migrants. I was lucky to be able to support “A Drop in The Ocean” on one of their humanitarian programs, more specifically contributing to their Laundry Service program supporting their operation of collecting, washing, drying, folding, packing, and distributing up to 800 kilos of laundry every day.
It all became possible with a nudge from my employer, Cisco. For several years the company has been facilitating Time2Give, a giving back program for funding volunteering. As a regular Cisco employee, you can use up to 10 days per calendar year, with pay, to give your time to a cause that matters to you. Humanitarian aid, charity or for example supporting the local community or environment. This year we are given an additional 10 days to work on projects that will help Ukrainians who are affected by the war, adding up to a total of 20 days.
A Drop in the Ocean
For me it started earlier this year when our global Customer Success organization took the initiative to inspire us with a “Global Day 2 Give”. Through a colleague I was introduced to the head office of “A Drop in The Ocean” where we volunteered for the day. During that day we learned a lot about the organization’s programs supporting people in need, and how the refugee crisis in Europe has escalated after the war broke out in Ukraine the early spring of 2022.
After learning about where the most pressing needs were, and how I best could help, I started preparing my paperwork and arranging my travels. A Drop in the Ocean was very supportive, and the volunteering community on social media is always there to help. Few weeks later I had my feet on the ground in the camp right outside of Mytilene, and my regular reality and first world problems was set on hold for a few weeks.
A sign of hope
Being a veteran, it was quite different to visit such a reality without being part of a deployment. But I quickly adapted to the situation, and it was a very emotional experience bonding with the beneficiaries of the camp, all with their different stories and backgrounds – singles, families, young and old. A perspective it’s hard to get when traveling in a uniform. It is a terrible situation, especially for children, growing up under these conditions, perhaps knowing nothing else.
This makes it even more powerful to see how resilient and adaptable humans are. Despite the terrible conditions you can still see teenagers flirting, toddlers playing with stray puppies and people cracking jokes and making the best of the situation. That gives me hope.
A broader perspective
Several tons of laundry later, having introduced elements of automation in some administrative processes and evangelized Cisco’s free learning portal: “Skills for All.com” to introduce people to jobs in technology, I am now back to my e-mails, chatrooms, and video meetings, and it is easy to forget what is really going on out there. So, I can do nothing but recommend my fellow colleagues, and fellow human beings, to get out there – travel, broaden your perspectives, and help people in need – you never know when things might turn.
Despite the terrible conditions you can still see teenagers flirting, toddlers playing with stray puppies and people cracking jokes and making the best of the situation. That gives me hope.
– Emil Niclas Hofseth, Volunteer.
What is Time2Give?
As a regular Cisco employee, you can use up to 10 days per calendar year, with pay, to give your time to a cause that matters to you. You might decide to volunteer at a non-profit organization, a charity or support the local community or environment.
To learn more about how you can contribute, visit A Drop in the Ocean.
Emil Niclas Hofseth, Customer Success Executive at Cisco.
Emil is a part of the Customer Experience organization for the Nordics and Benelux. In his present role, Emil is responsible for customers’ value realization from their investments in Cisco’s solutions and services, as part of Cisco’s overall Lifecycle Value Management chain. This includes business/domain alignment and post sales orchestration across the Cisco portfolio of services and solutions. Emil joined Cisco in 2016, has an Executive Master of Management degree from BI Norwegian Business School in addition to a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Oslo Metropolitan University. He enjoys good food, wine and gravel riding.
Connect with Emil: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emilniclas/