The importance of volunteering for me. “It is not an action but the action of many”
I started volunteering in 2018 when, after returning from my 6 months of Erasmus in the Canary Islands, I started to see with different eyes my home, my territory. So I decided that I couldn’t just stand by and complain, but I could work for things to change. I started with environmental volunteer activities, Clean Up at the beach taught me how a small gesture like for example to abandon waste if multiplied for all people who do not pay attention to this dynamic becomes a huge problem.
I subsequently participated in actions to enhance the urban decorum of the neighborhood where I live with other residents and understood how active action by stakeholders if supported by institutions leads to results that reflect the will of stakeholders and to more durable and functional results.
Of course my actions have not directly changed the world for the better, but they have helped me understand what are respectful attitudes and behaviors for other individuals and for life together in society and on the planet. So I think if we all participated in forms of volunteering, the world would be a better place.
The coronavirus began to spread and negatively impact people’s lives in the year 2020. We were frightened and unprepared for what the future held. We had to take care of our own needs as well as the lives of others who were close to us. I was constantly assisting and caring for my grandmother throughout the quarantine. She is a 70-year-old woman with health concerns who has undergone numerous operations that have left her body weak. It was more difficult for her to get herself supplies because she lives far from the city. I would visit her every three days while keeping my distance and wearing gloves and a protective mask. . In such moments, I realized that even though we were keeping our distance, we had never been closer. Yes, such times were difficult and it wasn’t easy to see your loved one in such a state while yet wanting to hug her. The coronovarius pandemic has put everyone to the test and shown just how far humanity can go.
My name is Doris Lalević and I am a third year law student. Through my previous education, I participated in many activities. I was a founder of a volunteer club in my high school with whom I was part in many activities such as raising money for local NGOs for helping stray animals, helping children with disabilities, cleaning local parks, and making a presentation for awareness of overweight children and the importance of physical activities. I was a project assistant in the music festival ’’Danilovgradation’’. I took part in UNICEF’s UPSHIFT where I had a chance to present a project that could contribute to the development of my community. I have been a Red Cross volunteer since 2018 and I was a volunteer at NGO Zid for two years. I participated in the workshop ’’No impunity for the past ” that is supported by the EU. I was also part of the Student Council and I represented first and second year at my faculty of Law, where I provided protection of student’s rights. Currently I am volunteering in NGO Mladiinfo and I’m putting effort in improving the position of young people, providing information, promoting volunteerism and active participation in society, as well as raising society’s awareness of issues and problems concerning young people. I have also been volunteering in ESN – Erasmus Student Network since this year.
In the journey to discover the wholeness of myself, the universe and their relationship, my compass is the spirit of initiative and love for people. By participating in a show with a project on the theme “Albania at its best when…” I realized that the united youth has tremendous potential to give the world the colors it wants. Since then I have contributed to several national and international youth initiatives. Creating the chapter of Girl Up in Albania is one of my most beautiful and growing challenges and experiences. Girl Up gives girls the resources and platform to start movements for social change. Through Girl Talk, Bootcamp, Inspire Session, online awareness campaigns and joint video conferences with girls from around the world, the club aspires to empower girls to raise their voices, develop leadership skills and encourage them to take initiative. In addition, engaging as a facilitator in a digital cultural exchange program has taught me that the starting point of everything is building healthy communities. Building opportunities to understand the interrelationship of human rights and sustainable development, as well as cultivating the competencies of global citizenship constitute the axis of my activism and initiatives.
Well, this is a short story of the beginning of a connection between a person who was supposed to be the one who needed something and another one who was looking for someone to take care of in order to feel alive for a reason.
Finally, who gave and who had back more from this connection, who knows it, but I am sure about one thing: I had back more, I mean MORE, that I could never expect.I am Edoardo, an Italian EVS volunteer who works in the field of interventions at Iasis ngo in Athens.
My job consists in delivering food bought in the supermarket or collected at the Equal Society, the social kitchen of the town, clothes, and other goods to the people’s houses, people who have special needs but also do other activities keeping company, sometimes just listen to them.
K. is an elder woman, she suffers from mental health problems, and she is not that kind of ‘special’ person, she is more than Special, at least I am sure she is, and she lives in Athens.I used to visit her at home once a day every day since three months bringing her the lunch. She doesn’t speak English and I can’t speak Greek, so at the beginning I saw a kind of barrier between us, and actually it is been, then day by day we start to generate that connection teaching one simple word to each other, and step by step we started to communicate, still with some difficulties of course, but I felt a special empathy, I was totally connect to her soul.
Actually, I really don’t know who is getting more from this relationship, but I can say for sure that since we will connect ourselves to the other one for a little while every until the end of the time that rests until the end of this experience, none of us will feel that un-useful and alone.
Hello! I’m Ioanna and I am a volunteer in Iasis NGO. My relationship with volunteering began systematically when I completed my internship as a psychologist in the organisation of Iasis and especially in the program “intervention of the community”. Volunteering gave me the opportunity to participate in many social activities, trainings, and become an active member of a group of young people with common visions and goals. Below I quote a personal story from my experience as a volunteer that it has a special meaning for me.
This summer a big fire broke out in the area of Penteli and Pallini. Apart from natural disasters in the forest area, many houses had serious material damage and the residents had to face a great crisis. Iasis organized groups of professionals, employees and volunteers to record what the citizens needed and be there to offer them immediate assistance. My participation in this group was an unforgettable volunteering experience and it is an inspiration and motivation to continue being a volunteer. We visited all the houses of the area in order to offer food, water, medicine,food for animals and phycological and social support to the owners of each house. We visited the house of a lonely man and gave him food and water. The man told us that all his musical instruments were burnt as well as many books. It was a very emotional moment when he decided to give us one of his favourite books to thank us for our volunteering offer.
My name is Vladimir Tsvejanov and this is my story. I spent a memorable 9 months within the framework of the volunteer program, during which time I volunteered at an employment center for people with mental and physical disabilities.
I got to know the program through a dear friend of mine, and considering my active volunteer history, I immediately liked the opportunity the program offered and what it represents. Finally, with the help of the Hungarian Voluntary Foundation and (with my catchy profile picture), I was invited to Valencia, in warm Spain. My host organization is BONAGENT, where I covered two locations with my French roommate.
The members of the host organization were waiting with open arms. I was surrounded by support and understanding, and early on I was taught the term “Poca a Poco” (Step by Step).
As I mentioned, I worked at two locations: the main building and a farm. At the headquarters, they were entrusted to the careful hands of Noelia, and although no one spoke English, we were able to understand each other. Working with the participants was easy and I was always greeted with cheers and applause when I walked through the door. A general week was filled with various crafts, mainly drawing and board games. However, some days were spiced up by preparing for my own circus performance. They didn’t shy away from exercise either, we held soccer matches, played tennis and took long walks in the nearby parks.
The aim of the session on the farm is to teach the participants about farming, growing vegetables and making money from it. At the beginning of each week, we walked around the land, examined what happened to the plants over the weekend, and wrote down the weekly tasks. Then the work could begin. We weeded, dug, tilled the land with a small tractor, mowed lawns and bushes and planted new plants, from which we later harvested the vegetables we deserved for the work. They took what we produced to the organic market every weekend. The profit generated was divided among themselves.
I was able to meet new people in both places. We supported each other, we cared about each other, and although I didn’t always understand, when they laughed, you couldn’t help but join in the wave of laughter. These people showed the value of everyday pleasures and reminded me of a feeling that is lost in the rush of the world.
My name is Sára, and the idea of ESC volunteering first occurred to me when I was still an online university student, and I also worked from home, so the biggest variety was the screen I spent long hours in front of. I felt that I needed something that would take me out of the ordinary, that’s when I found a volunteer opportunity in England, in Bournemouth.
In February 2022, I landed at the airport in the southern English seaside town to start my 6 months volunteering with the YMCA in Bournemouth. Before my arrival – although I toyed with the idea many times – I could not have imagined how incredible and at the same time it would be a strange feeling to sleep in Budapest one day, and the next day to move to an unknown country, unknown city for months accompanied by heavy suitcases. I was lucky because the international volunteers who were already out there quickly made the unknown seem natural to me.
The YMCA organization tries to help those in need in almost every major city in England. In Bournemouth, their main profile is supporting people struggling with housing difficulties, homelessness, and various addictions, as well as organizing youth groups and programs. During my daily work, I mainly worked in the city center with the residents of the YMCA hostel, for whom the YMCA tries to help the process of recovery and reintegration with diverse group sessions, self-knowledge and community-building groups, but also with individual therapy sessions. During my time abroad, I was able to get involved in the work of many such groups, my favorite was perhaps the art therapy session, which was also a social program for the residents, but also provided an opportunity to quiet down.
In addition to the experience of volunteering, the company also gave a lot of extras. For six months, we lived together with seven other volunteers and two ex-volunteers – for months, this community took over the role of family for us. Although our mother tongue was different and in many cases we had a different cultural background and system of customs, after a while it was no more natural for us to live together, to share this phase of our lives with each other, without thinking that it is only temporary.