What is volunteering? Does it work for free or for food? No human trafficking? Does everything is safe?

As an NGO we are working with international volunteering opportunities already for 6 years. We sent Ukrainian youth to Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Spain, Great Britain, Romania. But questions from potencial participants about EVS (European Voluntary Service)/ (now) ESC (European Solidarity Corps) are similar to questions we get 6 years ago.

This summer 16 Ukrainians participate in short term (1 month) volunteering project in Gdynia, Poland. And all of them came back home healthy, alive and with new experience. How it was? What it was about? Why go for volunteering abroad? Find the answer from impressions from our volunteers.

* Shortly European Solidarity Corps is the opportunity of volunteering for youth from 17 till 30 y.o. in EU countries (at least for Ukraininans). Activities are different, but mostly they are happen on base of non-governmantal organisations. Duration: 2 weeks – 12 months. There are financial support for volunteers such as pocket money (volunteer allowance), money for food, paid local transport (if its needed), paid accomodation and money for trip to venue where volunteering project is happen. Working hours: 7 hrs/day, 5 days a week. All volunteers are still alive 🙂 Much more you can find on official web-page of program (and even ypu can look for some opportunities for yourself) – https://europa.eu/youth/solidarity_en

Kateryna Bezhynar, Kremenchuk city:

Did you have the feeling that all life was not going according to plan? When you graduate from university, you sit six months out of work and without any sense of life; when you think, “This is such a boring life?” You may not have had one, but this story is about me.

When I was asked to fill out a volunteer questionnaire, I thought it wasn’t serious. Where I am, and where volunteering is. But I still filled it.

I think it is normal to be critical of everything, but it is not normal to doubt yourself as I did. So, I was selected, so there is no way to retreat. Long preparations have begun. Questions such as, “What to bring with you? What is the weather in Poland? In what conditions will we live? How do we eat? ” The questions are ordinary to a person who has never traveled outside the country with a bunch of strangers. These questions will arise, but if the opportunity comes, don’t worry.

Because of all the “do not want” and the reluctance to leave the comfort zone, I still went. Already on the spot it became clear that they will take care of us.

We were met at the station; spent where needed; conducted trainings; collected weekly to evaluate everything that is happening; mentors assisted in crisis situations.

So, from the beginning, all doubts were dispelled and I felt myself in my place. Gradually, the taste of life began to return. There was not much work, so we had plenty of time to talk to different people, walk the city and have fun. Time flowed too fast.

Also volunteering is a great opportunity to get to know the culture of another country. Prior to that, I knew a lot about Poland from the stories of Ukrainian earners, but now I know what it looks like through the eyes of the Poles themselves.

In general, during the project I had no desire to return home, but I enjoyed every day and am very grateful for the chance. Now I feel that I cannot sit sad in four walls, and I plan and take further steps for my own development.

I can assure you that everything will be fine. You just have to believe in the best and not be afraid to step into the unknown. It may be where a new page of your life will begin as mine began.

Later we expect here more texts 🙂

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By alena

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European Solidarity Corps    Eastern Europe & Caucasus Resource Centre    Громадські ініціативи України