Refugees Are Not Victims - Project Manager

Refugees are people and not victims, and this is a weird job ad not a normal one.

In Second Tree, people have always grown in the team, building skills within the organisation. It was like this when we started as four volunteers, and it is now that we are a team of 20-25 – many having been here for years – managing several projects in refugee camps in Greece and training institutions and organisations in more than 20 countries.

BUT we have been awarded the project that we’ve always dreamed of. In it we have put all our ideas on how to change the humanitarian world and refugee reception systems (yes: a very unambitious project!). So, we thought: we will need more people, with a large array of skills; people who share our objective and ethical commitment and, maybe, feel unhappy with what they are doing now?

We can offer an enormous amount of work (but for something really meaningful) for a very small salary (but the same as the CEO and all of top management).

So, if you are a disillusioned humanitarian, who is looking for a place that really cares; or you work in another sector and want to start helping, this might be for you.


We are looking for someone who has:

    • Intelligence: You have changed your mind and made someone else change their mind, through rational conversations, at least once in the last two weeks.
    • Honesty: There is nothing you wouldn’t say, except the things you say you wouldn’t say. If you mess up, you say so. If someone else messes up, you say so too.
    • Engagement: When you read the Wikipedia entry for Aumann’s Agreement Theorem you get excited. You don’t want to “be yourself”, and you will try to improve us.
    • Ethical drive: You have decided (no matter how recently) that it’s not about what you’re good at or what you like to do, but about what is right to do.
    • Sense of humour: You are ruthless. Listening to this advice for humanitarians, from an Afghan teenager with an extremely painful story, moves you.


Second Tree was founded by a group of volunteers working together in one of the worst refugee camps in Europe. Some lived in the camp, some did not. From the beginning, we realised that making such a distinction – even with good intentions – “othered”, victimised, refugees. At the time we didn’t know that this was called community engagement, we just knew that we were building a community.

More than 8 years later. Second Tree has kept the same ethos, and has turned it into a community engagement model, a policy, and a package of training programmes for local authorities, international institutions and civil society organisations.

We still work in the refugee camps in Greece, our root and innovation lab, where we keep learning and develop new ideas. But now we also advocate – through writing, public speaking and advocacy – for a humanitarian world and a reception system that doesn’t see refugees as victims.

Ultimately, spreading this philosophy is what Second Tree has specialised in: having trained international institutions, local public authorities and civil society organisations in more than 20 countries. It is also the basis of the Project we are recruiting for.


The community engagement model that we have developed is called simply “Refugees Are People”, or RAP. Because, too often, in the humanitarian world and in the receptions system in Europe, refugees are not perceived and treated as people, but as victims.

People that you need to protect, because of their vulnerability, or celebrate because of their heroism, or avoid upsetting because of the culture there are trapped into. This depiction is often used by NGOs, activists, academia, and individuals to foster support, highlight injustice and counter anti-refugee sentiment. However, despite being well-intentioned, it undermines and disempower refugees in a similar way to how opposite form of “othering” (perceiving refugees as invaders, thieves, etc) do.

At Second Tree, we put significant effort into countering these victimising sentiments. It’s not easy. We all carry biases within us, and committing to this belief requires constant discussion and self-reflection. We don’t assume people’s trauma, heroism or culture, and therefore we don’t patronise, romanticise or stereotype. Instead, we view everyone, refugees and non-refugees alike, with CARE: as Capable, Accountable, Reasonable, in one word, Equal.

It means engaging intellectually, disagreeing, joking with refugees as you would with other people, and holding them to the same standards – not lower, not higher – as anyone else. This, the practicing of joint responsibility and the same high expectations for everyone involved, is how Second Tree has managed to build strong communities.


We’ve put into this project all of the things we’ve always wanted to do. And now that it’s has been approved, we have to do those amazing things! It is the continuation, but with a significant expansion in both scope and depth, of a previous project, co-funded by the European Commission. We are leading a consortium of 17 partners, plus 7 associated partners, in 11 countries, 7 municipalities, and 4 academic institutions across a 3-year timeline.

Our community building training will provide the foundation for the creation of integration task forces in 12 territories in Europe, being the instrument through which municipalities gain relationships of trust with migrant communities. A community monitoring system developed for OSCE by a professor in our network will be implemented in the territories as a sustainability tool for the Task Forces.

There’s another component that is very exciting: the Transnational Research. One of the important features of our model is that we develop relationships with people and maintain them even after they leave Greece. We have a huge number of friends and Second Tree friends and former students scattered across many different countries. Each of these people has seen and been able to compare the integration systems of at least two European countries, knowledge that is completely untapped by States and European institutions. 40 of them will be hired as refugee co-researchers, and will be trained by the universities in the project to interview the others. They will then analyse the data, collect that knowledge into a working paper, and present the results of their action research. By the project’s conclusion, this network of 200 refugees will be formalised into a refugee-led association in Brussels, using the findings of their research to drive advocacy and lobbying efforts for policy change at EU level.

These are the roles we envisage for the project.

How To Apply

Send an email to [email protected] including (at least):

  1. What you think we are wrong about in this article
  2. Something you would have wanted to know 5 years ago
  3. Which one(s) of the roles you would be interested in
  4. Another thing about you of your choice

In your email:

  1. Put “RAP IL” as the subject line
  2. At the bottom, copy-paste the link of the ad you are responding to

If the application includes all of these, we will get back to you in a maximum of 48 hours.