Research has shown that people who volunteer often live longer. This is maybe the best description of the impact of volunteering for the people. Because volunteering is a way of living that brings happiness, promotes compassion, unselfish caring, patience and love.
With these values, 32 young volunteers from Hungary, North Macedonia, Poland and Romania went on a journey called CUTE – Cooperate, Understand, Tolerate, Empower in Hortobagy, Hungary from July 22 to July 31. And this journey was full with cooperation, learning, self-development, friendships, games, smiles and the most important – volunteering at the bird hospital in the national park Hortobagy. In mixed teams from all countries, the volunteers were engaged with all their hearts in helping the injured birds by making their places more suitable for recovery and living. There were many storks, buffs, eagles, and the star among all those beautiful birds, the talking raven Negro. These volunteer actions were an excellent opportunity for the young volunteers to focus on cooperation, understanding and tolerance. And they were pretty good at that. Together they managed to fulfill the volunteer mission leaving parts of their young but great hearts in the bird hospital.
The nine days in Hungary besides the activities in the bird hospital were filled with many team building activities, workshops, rally biking, treasure hunting activities, photo mission in Debrecin. All of these activities under facilitation from our host Andrea Kereztesi from the Hang-Kép Egyesület, Sound-Picture Association from Hungary were a remarkable opportunity for the participants to learn the power of inter-cultural communication and tolerance. Each team prepared for their national evenings with dinner. In these evenings all of the participants had opportunity to find out more about the other cultures. There were many word games, dances and laughter. In those moments, there was one big family of young people who, regardless of their different cultures, were breathing the same air, were dancing to the same songs and were eating the same national dinner. The main lesson of these evenings was that we are all people who share same or similar values. The borders between the countries are just lines which must be connections between the people instead of obstacles.
Last but not least, the national park Hortobagy. This magical place which was home for the participants for those nine days allowed its glory to shine through. The participants had chance to see the national park in eastern Hungary, which is rich with folklore and cultural history. The Racka sheeps, Hungarian Grey cattle and Water buffalos were attraction for all. And the real pleasure was to see the great Hortobagy Sheppard riding five horses while standing on his two legs. It was breathtaking for everyone.
This journey may be over, but the lessons we learned from it will remain with us. The knowledge acquired and memories from Hortobagy are what will push us further and inspire us to be more active in our communities, to help and cooperate.
And from the Macedonian team, a big thank you and appreciation for the Volunteers Centre Skopje for making this journey come true.