I did my volunteering in a Day Care Center for Children from Street in Shuto Orizari, Skopje. Around 120 Roma children and teenagers are hosted there.
For sure at the beginning, it seems to be easy. Everything was new, culture, environment, country, people in my life. I needed time to adapt myself to this new environment and start learning basics of Macedonian language to be able to communicate with kids. The language barrier was a problem because they did not speak English. At the beginning I was using the body language and my own SMILE. The honest smile can break a lot of barriers. The gestures and being friendly helped in overcoming this problem. When I went for the first time to the day care center I was surprised. I had to work on myself, and to get adapted to this target group. Kids often tried to trick me so I had to learn how to filter information from them.
They were from poor families so I was glad to see them coming every day to get some food, education (in center they could learn alphabet, math’s, art etc.) and of course to play games. The activities with teenagers like making bracelets (I was asked to do bracelet every day!) and French classes which were funny I will always keep in my mind. My talks with some of the children brought me a lot of reflections. I shared with them my French lifestyle, experience and I gave them some advice’s. I tried to convince them about necessity of further education. Work with these adorable Roma kids was also life lesson to me. During volunteering program you might develop deep relations with children, discover personal stories which make you think how lucky we are compared to them.
One of my favorite moment during 10 months was summer 4 days trip with the kids to Ohrid. I have never seen such a happiness in the eyes of children. For most of them it was the first time to see Ohrid lake. They didn’t know how to swim but they easily found another way to have fun in the water. They were enjoying the sunshine and warm sand under their feet and it made them very happy. When the kids are happy I am happy too.
After this kind of experience you have changed; about the way you live your own life; you see differently some minorities that before you knew nothing… Its the change in you. I can ensure you that if you dare to go on the adventure abroad you will not regret it; you will come back with a desire to travel more and with beautiful memories in your mind. As soon as possible, I would like to come back to Macedonia and visit again the children in Shutka. What’s more, Balkan region is very surprising so I would be glad to discover more of this place.
“I speak not for myself but for those without voice…those who have fought for their rights…their rights to live in peace, their right to be treat with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated” – Malala Yousafzai. Each human being should have the right to get education that help a lot in the future life.