1-9th of September Macedonia hosted the second part of the study visit called “EVS as one more step toward INCLUSION”. The nine day visit included visiting many associations and NGOs around Macedonia, to give the participants an opportunity to make contacts for future endeavours.
As the project started we had the first energizers to get to know each other and to do some team building. One of the funniest exercise was “mission impossible” which seemed not doable at first but in the end we managed to finish all the tasks. Just finishing that exercise showed that the participants worked well together. The team even managed to put together a anthem for the project. Another task was to give yourself a code name, It was fun and people had a chance to be creative. When in Skopje of course we had to have a cultural walk around the town to show the participants the city.
In general the group was very diverse, with participants from 9 countries: Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Estonia, Italy, Croatia, Turkey and Poland. It gave an opportunity to have a wider view on what is going on in Europe. By wider view I don’t mean only for the participants, but also the Macedonian NGOs as the group shared some ideas and vice versa. For the first few days The Group had a chance to meet NGOs and associations around Skopje. To start of the group had a visit from Macedonian National Agency. After that it was time to go around Skopje and visit Macedonian Agency for Sport and Youth, Sumnal association in Shutka, VCS, VO MOJOT SVET, Center for youth activism KRIK / КРИК, LEGIS and Macedonian Montessori Association. It was very inspirational few days. The participants had a chance to meet many organizations that worked with disadvantaged youth, refugees, children and various other topics.
After staying in Skopje for couple of days it was time to hit the road and see what other NGOs are up to in Macedonia. The first stop was in Kumanovo, where we visited NGO CID MULTI-CULTI Center. It was great to see an active NGO that has an interesting approach on hosting EVS volunteers.
They try to be as open as possible with hosting volunteers. Even if a volunteer does not speak English very well they try to host them in pairs. So that one would be more advanced in english and could help the other. In that way low level of English does not stop you from participating EVS. It was also great to have an discussion about how to reach children from rural areas and how to include the parents more.
Second destination was Prilep where we visited Youth Council Prilep and Youth information center. The Youth information center works together with CEGA. CEGA has been active 19 years and they have established two centers in Prilep and Kavadarci.
Last but not the least we visited Bitola where we had a chance to meet two NGOs YMCA which was established in United Kingdom and was one of the first NGOs. These days it’s widely spread organization that operates in 119 countries. The second NGO in Bitola that the team met was SFERA. The Organization puts its main effort in ecology and topics related to nature. After that the participants were guided around Bitola to see and gain some knowledge about the city.
After arriving in Struga the participants were divided in teams according to their country. The main idea was to continue on what they already started at the first part of the project in Split. Which was how to apply for accreditation for a NGO. In Struga the participants had to take it one step further and start thinking of an idea to apply for an EVS or training project. In the evening all the teams had a chance to introduce their counties at a cultural night. We had some quizzes, powerpoints, videos, dances and a lot of food from all of the countries. In general it was rather informative evening. For example we learned what would the world without Romania be like and European Union vs Italien way.
Following few intense days traveling and visiting a lot of organizations, the group had a chance to visit Ohrid. The city is well known for its history, old churches (365 to be exact) and touristic sceneries. After coming back to the hotel without losing anybody there were still time for a dinner. This time our hosts took us to a traditional Macedonian restaurant. The food was great accompanied with live Balkan music.
The final day started with NGO Fair, it gave the participants a chance to represent their organizations and presentations of the project. Presentations were mostly either EVS projects, training courses or Youth exchanges. As the main idea of the project was to find partners and develop a project with your NGO. It was great to see that some cooperation was already established between Participants and NGOs. Estonians had an idea to cooperate with VCS (Volunteer Center Skopje) for their EVS project. Polish and Bulgarian participant joined in writing a project. Since the project trainers Gjoko and Duby had a lot of experience in writing projects the participants had amazing chance to get some tips and tricks to better their ideas and formal part of things.
Last but not least a big thank you for Duby and Gjoko for this project, and not to forget the wonderful team Meri, Milena and all the participants.