An Independent School • Grades 5-12

Kia Davis '95: Business leader and volunteer

Kia Davis ’95, a global business consultant based in Dubai, volunteers with refugees on Samos Island through the organization

Business leader and volunteer |  Dubai, UAE and Samos Island, Greece

October 2018

By Paula Bock

Life journey: After getting my MBA from Insead, an international business school, I lived in London for five years and spent another year working on business projects around the world. For seven years, I’ve been in Dubai, chosen as a base to work with global clients because of its proximity to Africa, Europe, and Asia. Now, however, I’m spending the summer in Greece, volunteering with the refugee crisis. 

On volunteering in a community center for asylum-seekers

Built for 700, the refugee camp now has nearly 3,000 people in cramped conditions. Nutrition and sanitation are poor. Lines for prepacked hot meals can be two hours long. Poor cleanliness means some people prefer to bathe in the sea rather than shower in dirty conditions. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees provides $100 a month “cash assistance” for asylum-seekers in the camp, but it doesn’t go very far.

Snapshot of a person, a place

One of our volunteers who lives in the camp is a dapper Iraqi hipster with full beard and wide smile. In Iraq, he was a gym teacher and model. Here in Samos, he spends the day attending our English and other classes, and volunteers at the community center. At night, he hangs out at the seafront with friends, or briskly walks along the seafront promenade, always in his hat with a feather in it. Because of the poor conditions of the camp, he only goes back there to sleep. 

We have gotten used to not asking what people's daily plans are. Kia davis '95

On how asylum seekers organize their days

Unable to work, and with children unable to enroll in the local schools, there are very few ways to pass the time. Our community center provides an outlet during the day, but there is very little to do and very little money to do it with. The days tend to while on, and we volunteers have gotten used to not asking what people’s daily plans are. 

This article was first published in the Fall/Winter 2018 Lakeside magazine. Paula Bock is innovation and communications strategist for Mobilizing Myanmar, an initiative leveraging Burma’s smartphone revolution to connect women and the poor with economic opportunity. She’s the mom of a Lakeside 10th grader.