Roma Children Need Care Too – Triine Viisma – 11 Months Volunteering in Skopje – North Macedonia
11 months in Macedonia
In June, 2018, I attended a project about EVS. I knew that something like this exsists but I wanted to know more. After the project I came back to Estonia, met Marco and told him that I would like to go abroad to volunteer… he was just looking for somebody for a project called ”Roma Children Need Care Too”.
I did not know anything about Macedonia but I knew that I love to work with children and the project sounded perfectly challenging.
I arrived in Macedonia in October, 2018. The beginning was exciting, scary, fun… all kind of emotions. I happened to have the best Spanish flatmate called Ana. She was so welcoming, open and ready to show me around the town called Skopje. I remember the first was sunny and warm… seemed perfect when coming from Estonian October. Thanks to Ana, the first 5 months of my project were amazing, since it felt like I had a best friend from the day one. It is so important to have somebody support you when you move abroad, you are on your own and do not really know anybody. We had a lot of chances to travel around the Balkans, have fun parties with all the other volunteers and work with amazing children in Shutka.
When I tell people that I was wokring with street children, they usually react as it is a very hard job. It is, but there is so much more! The children are full of life, love and energy. Their eyes are shining even when they do not know what an iPhone is. They might not have the best living conditions but their openness and shiny personalities do not let you feel bad about them. The experience with them was eye-opening and full of love for me. I worked in a Day Care Centre, where we gave them food, helped them with homework and taught mathematics, alpahbet, we were drawing and painting a lot and even watched movies sometimes!
Macedonia as a country was more difficult for me. It has amazing nature, big mountains, beautiful lake Ohrid and my personal favourite place – Matka Kanjon. But other than the nature, it can be very different from Estonia. I did learn how to socialize more, because the people there are so friendly but what was heartbreaking for me, was the dirtiness. They do not have the best solution for taking away trash yet, so I hope it will change very soon. I do have a lot of hope for the young people living there, since all my local friends were open-minded, smart and saw the bigger picture. I have never had friendships like that in Estonia. I am so grateful for the people there, who always supported me when I needed that the most.
Overall, the experience was eye-opening and fun. It was something I could not have in Estonia and this is the best part of it.
Special greetings to NYH, VCS family, all my friends and volunteers there and all the people I met along the way and had the chance to work with.
This Project was financed by European Commission’s Erasmus + Programme