Volunteer Stories from Greece, part 1

Volunteer Stories from Greece, part 1

“Just two connected souls in Athens”

-“How much can I receive back opening my heart?”


-“Have you ever tried to ask it to yourself?”

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.


Edoardo, Italy.

Evs Project

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.


Hello! My name is Zenia and I come from Greece. I study psychology and  I am a volunteer at IASIS NGO, specifically at the Day Center and the youth center «Connect your city», for over a year. During this year I have experienced a lot of things and had the opportunity to meet new places and people ! My time at the Day Center, which is a place where people with mental health issues come and spend their time by participating in teams,  was very productive I can say… Me and my colleague organized some educational and some entertaining teams for the members of the Day Center, we also organized a webinar about physical and mental pain and we visited some people that weren’t able to come in person, in order to evaluate their needs.


Although all of these were fascinating and very educative for me as a student, I would like to share my experience about my travel abroad in the framework of “O’visor project”! The travel took place in Tirana, Albania at December 2021.  I really enjoyed this travel and I remember myself being ready to participate again in the rest of the activities in the framework of this project, something that I did later haha.The most exciting part for me from participating in this travel was that I got to know people from different countries and cultures.  I won’t forget the people that I met, the good times we had together, and the new things I had the chance to learn and experience. Being a volunteer makes this even more interesting and fun, because it’s the place that I want to be at this time, where  feel more fulfilled and complete. I enjoy every moment during my time as a volunteer and I think that everyone,who has the time and the chance, should try  it too! 😉





As a volunteer in IASIS I have the chance to take part in a variety of programmes which help you to communicate, know new people, have many experiences, get knowledge and help others who are in difficult situations and it’s very difficult for them to recognize the bright side of life.

Especially as a psychologist volunteer I was very lucky to participate in free psychological phone line 10306, which is  24 hours open line for people who need to talk with a specialist and feel powerless to deal with their feelings, the anxiety and the problems of everyday life. It was very important for me that I was a member of psychological team and  I had the opportunity to help vulnerable people. Hearing “thank you, you made my day. It was so nice to talk with you” was a big prize for me!!


Hello! My name is Deppy and I am from Greece. I am a psychologist and I am currently studying Counselling Psychology as my master’s degree. I have been a volunteer at IASIS NGO Day Center and Connect Your City Youth Center Athens for a year. At first, I did my internship for three months as an undergraduate student and after that I joined as a volunteer. As a volunteer in IASIS NGO, I was given the opportunity to participate in many activities. For example, my partner and I organized environmental teams, cognitive empowerment teams, we were trained in taking the psychological history, we organized and presented webinars about physical and mental pain or the stigma of diversity in the workplace and we volunteered in activities concerning the European Mobility Week


My experience as a volunteer made me understand the beauty of giving and how much satisfaction someone feels when they are selfless. I gained a lot of memories and knowledge, I became more mature, wiser and what impressed me the most during this year was the people I met and how each person was willing to help and made every situation more beautiful in their own way. As I said earlier, I made lots of amazing memories that I keep in my heart, and I will try to apply what I learn to my everyday behavior because I truly believe that each person can make a difference. I am grateful for the beautiful experience and memories I have gained!


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Volunteer Stories from Hungary, part 1

Volunteer Stories from Hungary, part 1

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.

My name is Eleonora and I spent 9 months in Valencia as part of the ESC program. During this time, I volunteered at an employment center for people with mental and physical disabilities. I was lucky enough that my friend and I could participate in this program at the same time, in the same city, but in a different project.


I’ve always wanted to try myself in a foreign environment, to get out somewhere where I’m really on my own and it’s not just a short vacation. In addition, I also made sure that this whole plan fits my personality, my profession and, last but not least, that I can help others during my stay. As the name of the program indicates, this is a Solidarity Board, that is, it provides assistance to those who are disadvantaged for some reason. I wanted to be a part of this program as its mission is completely in line with my views. After all, there is nothing more beautiful than taking care of the well-being of your fellow human beings.


On the first day, I went to the employment center with my coordinator, where I introduced myself to the director, colleagues, and the employed mentally and physically disabled people. Luckily for me, the physiotherapist working there knew a little English, so in the first couple of weeks I managed to get used to the place better, to learn how the daily routines go. In the meantime, I studied intensively and used the Spanish expressions immediately, and although I did not understand the answers, I was happy that at least they could understand me.

Already in the second week, I was able to hold physical exercises and group sports lessons, of course with very basic instructions and “imitation” methods. When something really had to be explained, I had help and tried to learn and enrich my vocabulary and expressions.

We are Eszter and Bogi and this summer we spent 3 weeks in a small village in Finland in Markkuu. Before the project, none of us had been to Finnish soil and we didn’t know each other, so everything and everyone was new to us. The aim of the project was to help the local community, primarily in manual work. In the process, we learned to build a fence, make a roof from self-adhesive shingles, distinguish between types of potatoes, and heat a sauna. We were taught all these jobs by the local residents, sometimes we worked under the supervision of one of them on the local tourist trail, sometimes someone else guided us at the local country house, but we also helped on a family farm. All of this was a great experience for us, as we were able to get to know the people there even better, their daily life, their work ethic and what is important to them in this small rural community where they live.


Fortunately, our days were not only filled with physical work. In one week, the main role was played by programs organized for children. We baked chocolate salami, played football, played dodgeball, made potato prints with them and even organized a treasure hunt for one day. But there was also the case that we participated in a family sports day held on the beach of the local small lake and organized programs for the participants, among whom there were already many familiar faces.


Our leaders were very kind and welcoming people, we often felt that they treated us volunteers as family members, even though we only spent three weeks there.


We both came away from Markkuu full of experiences and sad, as the volunteer team and the locals are all great people to whom it was difficult to say goodbye. We are very satisfied with the project, because in addition to the friends, mosquito bites and experiences we gained during the three weeks we spent there, we learned a lot about certain jobs, ourselves and different cultures. We will never forget this little village and hope to have the opportunity to go back at least once.

I’m Kata, my ESC story probably started with the fact that I dreamed of participating in the program back in the days when it was still called EVS. It seems that there was some chemistry between me and the Aarhus Red Cross, even via Zoom, because as I found out, they decided right after the interview that they wanted to work with me – so I started my project in November 2021, contrary to expectations, in sunny Aarhus.


Aarhus is the second-not-so-smallest city after Copenhagen. As a Budapester, used to the hustle and bustle, I was a little nervous about whether I would like this ‘small town’ existence. Well, I can say that I had no reason to worry from this point of view, this city has a lot to offer; beach, forest, museum, alternative party place, mainstream party place, pub, cafe, non-profit eco cafe, techno club, art gallery, youth center, contemporary dance studio – so everything is here.


And what was my volunteer work? We had to organize pop-up second-hand clothing fairs for the local Red Cross. After that, we had one month to organize each pop-up. Our work had a kind of cyclical nature: we collected the clothes from the containers – usually with a van – and then selected and priced the best pieces. We were both quite afraid of driving, me, who has had a license for ten years but has not yet acquired a routine, and my partner has only driven a small automatic car so far. Once we even parked right on top of someone, we had to be rescued, but then in the end we got so into it that I managed to drive the largest vehicle allowed by category B driving license.


I think that the world can really open up as a result of such a program – especially for us Hungarians, for whom it is not necessarily natural to spend some time here and there around the world approx. since we were 16 years old. For those who, like me, would rather participate in the program towards 30 and are afraid that everyone around them will be too young, I have to say that this will indeed be the case.


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Volonterske Priče iz Srbije, part 1

Volonterske Priče iz Srbije, part 1

Crveni krst: Prva pomoć u pandemiji

Crveni krst je tokom 2020. godine dosegao oko milion ljudi, kroz tri oblasti u kojima su volonteri bili aktivni. Te oblasti obuhvataju podršku javnom zdravlju i obezbeđivanje vode, sanitacije, higijene, podršku smanjenju socijalno-ekonomskih posledica u lokalnim zajednicama, kao i jačanje kapaciteta samog Crvenog krsta Srbije. Na samom početku kovid krize u Srbiji, Crveni krst je formirao centar za pripreme i odgovor na nesreće, kako bi poboljšao koordinaciju aktivnosti u kriznim situacijama – u kojima je tokom prethodnih godina često bio vidljiv nedostatak organizacionih kapaciteta kada je reč o volontiranju.

“Kao organizacija i kao društvo susreli smo se sa krizom koja se po razmerama ne može porediti ni sa jednom drugom,” objašnjava Branimir Knežević iz Crvenog krsta. “Pored izlaženja u susret osnovnim potrebama ljudi poput odlaska do prodavnice, nismo zaboravili ni na potrebu ljudi da komuniciraju, što je onima kojima je pomoć bila potrebna mnogo značilo u vreme socijalne distance.

Knežević je dodao da je bezbenost volontera bila na prvom mestu i da prilikom organizovanja aktivnosti tokom krize – dobrovoljnog davanja krvi, pripremanja obroka u narodnim kuhinjama i pomoć ljudima sa ograničenim kretanjem, niko od volontera nije bio zaražen.

UNICEF: Mladi za mlade

Za UNICEF, ovo je bila godina inovativnih rešenja. Zajedno sa Mladim istraživačima Srbije, ova organizacija je sprovodila program Volonteri na mreži.

“Onlajn volontiranje je jedan od načina da se mladi aktiviraju, povežu međusobno i da koriste tehnologije koje su njima bliske i dostupne. Omogućili smo mladima koji žele da volontiraju da se povežu sa onima kojima je pomoć bila potrebna. Oko 800 volontera je uključeno i više od 4000 mladih dosegnuto kroz ovaj program. Mladi su se okupljani onlajn i radili korisne i širili informacije o tome kako se zaštititi od virusa, delili savete o tome kako sačuvati mentalno zdravlje,” objasnila je Stanislava Vučković iz UNICEF Srbija.

Ujedno UNICEF je u onlajn sferi sprovodio projekte Upshift i Generation Unlimited, s ciljem da se mladi ljudi animiraju i finansijski podrže da identifikuju ekološke i društvene probleme u svojoj zajednici i rešavaju ih. U UNICEF-u veruju da nije bitna samo sanacija najvidljivijih posledica ove pandemije, već i osvrt na njene dalekosežne posledice po mlade, poput gubitka socijalizacije, školovanja, nedostatak pristupa medicinskim uslugama i slično.

“Diskontinuitet u obrazovanju koji su mladi iskusili zbog krize, može da se premosti time što ćemo pozvati mladi da se uključe u volonterske programe, programe stručnih radnih praksi, kao i u ostale aktivnostu zajednice gde će kroz praktične stvari da usavršavaju i stiču veštine i znanja koje možda nisu uspeli da steknu u školi ove godine”, rekla je Vučković.

NVS: Volontiranje kao građenje proaktivnog stava

Poučen iskustvima iz prethodnih godina, Novosadski volonterski centar se u začetku krize izazvane pandemijom povezao sa Crvenim krstom, gradskim institucijama, kao i omladinskim organizacijama poput OpeNS. Oni su zajednički pružali pomoć – osim usluga usmerenih na ugroženo stanovništvo, volonterii NVS su u susret Međunarodnom danu volontera bili ispomoć i pri pravljenju privremene kovid-19 bolnice u Novom Sadu.

“Upravo ta aktivnost je primer fleksibilnosti u vanrednim situacijama,” primetio je Vojislav Prokosovački iz Novosadskog volonterskog centra. “NVS je formiran kako bi se promovisali pozitivni akspekti volontiranja i uključio što veći broj mladih, i ne samo mladih, ali i da se podigne kvalitet rada sa volonterima i uspostave određeni standardi. Jako je važno volonterima dati aktivnu, participativnu ulogu kako bi se osećali korisno, a ujedno je bitno obratiti pažnju na dve ključne stvari – bezbednost volontera i sticanje znanja kako bismo zajedno gradili aktivno društvo.”

RYCO: Fokus na region

Za neke organizacije, prelazak na onlajn aktivnosti značilo je usporavanje i neretko odlaganje projekata i aktivnosti. Ipak u RYCO-u vide i pozitivnu stranu te situacije – ova godina bila je prilika da urade opsežna istraživanja o potrebama mladih volontera, njihovim očekivanjima i preferencama i na taj oblikuju izuzetno ambicioznu platformu za regionalnu razmenu volontera.

“Platforma će funkcionisati kao centralna informativna baza gde će i volonteri i organizatori volontiranja moći da se registruju i prate, odnosno objavljuju prilike za volontiranje. Ideja je bila da na ovaj način odgovorimo na potrebe i jednih i drugih, ali i da platformu koristimo kao jedan od osnovnih alata koji ćemo koristiti za primociju programa prekograničnog volontiranja”, objasnila je Ines Bulajić iz RYCO, dodavši da su u kreiranje programa uključeni mladi, volonteri, potencijalni volonteri, organizatori volontiranja i donosioci odluka.

Idući korak je razvijanje tri prototipa programa koji će biti predstavljeni u pilot fazi naredne godine. Na osnovu povratnih informacije, biće kreiran finalni program prekograničnog volontiranja.

MIS: Tradicije kroz inovaciju

Za Mlade istraživače Srbije, imperativ u 2020. godini je bio – tradicija kroz inovaciju. Tako je MIS uspeo da održi u akciji nekoliko svojih projekata usmerenih na zaštitu životne sredine, volontiranje i aktivizam mladih – ali kroz fleksibilna rešenja koja su ponekad rezultirala događajima koji su bili čak napredniji i ambiciozniji u odnosu na svoje uobičajene postavke. Velika akcija čišćenja u okviru projekta Šta nam teško je umesto 100 volontera na jednom mestu okupila po 15 volontera u 10 mesta širom Srbije, u sinhronizovanoj akciji.

Na samom početku pandemije, fokus MIS-a je bio na bezbednosti volontera – apelovali smo na volontere da se ne samoorganizuju i ne volontiraju pre nego što pronađemo način da volontiranje učinimo bezbednim”, kaže Lena Tatalović iz Mladih istraživača Srbije. “Ali kada smo se vratili našim aktivnostima, prilagodili smo format kampova, tako da smo organizovali volonterske vikend kampove, pri čemu smo vodili računa da sve mere bezbednosti budu ispunjene. Ova godina nas je naučila da možemo da pronađemo nove načine, ali da ne treba ni da zanemarimo stare, te da kroz inovativnost, ali i zadržavanje tradicije gradimo otpornost.”


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Testimonials Series – New Vision Organization

Testimonials Series – New Vision Organization

I am Armando. I am the executive director of New Vision Organization, one of the partner organization of O’Visor Project. I was very happy with the finalization of the project, an event which brought many great opportunities to exchange practices and get inspired. Myself and all the other partners did our presentations regarding our work during the course of the project and this way everyone could show their local activities.


This exchange of practices is a great method of learning and then being able to pass the lessons into my personal work. Guidebooks were also a good concretization of our work. I am looking forward to event greater work and bigger things. 

Hello, I am Endrju. I am very happy that I was part of this event. I believe this project is very inspiring and being able to actually see each partner work is also great. I got to meet many new interesting people and listen to thoughtful advises and stories. Luxemburg was also great, and I made good memories from it. 

For many years I have been engaged in volunteering actions so I thought this is a great project to be able to share my passion and experience with other people regarding the importance volunteering has for society and self-development.


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Testimonials Series – Moby Dick ETS

Testimonials Series – Moby Dick ETS

From the 7th to the 10th of October I had the opportunity to take part to the Final Conference and meeting of the O’Visor project, organized in Luxembourg, as representative of Moby Dick ETS. Unfortunately I just took part to the last moment of this big project but just this moment made me understand the strong energies and the commitment of the partecipants that in different occasions and events stressed the importance of volunteering. During this days all the representatives of the 10 associations involved showed through photos videos and speeches the way in which they disseminated and promoted the importance of volunteering.


I’m really proud and satisfied about this experience that give me the opportunity to understand how many people fight for values in which I firmly believe. This motivates me to move forward on my path devolved to social policies.


-Giuseppe Giliberti

The “O’Visor” project organized by the BRAVO association represented an excellent opportunity to share best practices about volunteering and the specific actions of each individual country. Each nation, in fact, faces different challenges which, thanks to the culture of volunteering, are welcomed and managed through the commitment of numerous associations involved.


The project also represented an opportunity to create a solid network between those associations that share the culture of volunteering and its values. This allowed for dialogue and laid the foundations for future collaborations and development of the project follow-up.

Personally I participated in the first and last meeting of the project having the opportunity to see the evolution of the activities which, from a phase of mutual knowledge, evolved into a sharing of ideas and values through a training course that has expanded the knowledge about volunteering by the NGOs involved and allowed the creation of new project collaborations concerning this subject.


During the entire life cycle of the project, I also shared with the colleagues who participated in the other meetings, the contents that emerged and the side actions such as workshops and meetings with young people in the area, necessary for follow-up of the activities.


Overall, I am very satisfied with the project from a point of view of both the contents and the logistics organization and I want to thank BRAVO for managing a complex project to perfection in all details.


-Paolo Schetter


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Testimonials Series – BRAVO

Testimonials Series – BRAVO

My name is Una Alispahić and I’m a Board member of BRAVO. At the beginning of October, I got a really special opportunity to travel to Luxembourg and attend the Final Conference of the O’VISOR project which in my opinion, is the best project that BRAVO has implemented thanks to the project team that has worked hard to successfully deliver outputs. 


Now that a certain period has passed since the Final Conference, I summarized my impressions and I can confidently say that the O’VISOR Final Conference is one of the most valuable experiences in my life that I will forever cherish. Even though it lasted three days, it was still enough time for all participants to get closer and gain one special experience. The presentation of local activities and their effects on everyone involved, which was shared by partners from ten different countries, was the conference’s high point. Through presentations, we were all able to observe how much the O’VISOR project has benefited our local communities and given young people chances to expand their horizons and acquire new knowledge.


Even though we all said goodbye we know that this is not the end. The O’VISOR project is much bigger and it will continue to live in our societies as we will continue to promote the idea that:


”Only What You Give is Yours”

Spending three days in Luxembourg and talking about volunteering can only be described in one word UNFORGETTABLE. It was really a great honor for me to listen to how young people from ten different countries present the volunteer activities of their countries. During the three days of attending the meeting and seminar, I learned how different people contribute to the community in different ways, and how age is not an obstacle for anything.



Although a little sad that such a project has come to an end, I am really happy that I had the opportunity to be a part of it, and most of all I am glad that together with super amazing people and the youth of Bosnia and Herzegovina I had the opportunity to make our country a better one.

-Nedžma Salkić


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