Volunteering: Youth for Peace and Sant’Egidio community

It’s 5 AM in the morning and yes, this is the perfect time for me to tell you another story: the story of how I get into the volunteering and do not want to get out.

Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity where an individual or group provides services for no financial gain to benefit another person, group or organization.

Volunteering. n.d. In Wikipedia. Retrieved February 27, 2017 from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volunteering

I’ve heard so many times from the acquaintances who volunteered in various countries around the world and enjoyed it tremendously. So I was constantly curious, how volunteering works in Ukraine, my dear Motherland, who suffered a lot these years.

I started searching, «just googling it»; the most promising method is to find the organizations on the popular social websites and that’s it!

I found some: it was Youth for Peace and WWF community of Ukraine.

I hadn’t written them the very next second; I’m a person who analyses first and then dives deep into the ocean, so I waited. I didn’t want to be rude, pop out of nowhere and say something like ‘Take me: I’m so fine, you cannot reject me’ which was the characteristic I have never thought about myself in my entire life (the self-esteem is still low but I’m working on it).

I waited until the day “Youth for Peace” announced a call for volunteers! It was a week after when I filled in and sent them my application; I was still unsure, but I couldn’t wait any longer. They needed volunteers to help on Christmas lunches and the preparation before it. The Christmas was coming to the town of Kyiv and everyone needed a tiny miracle.
I was waiting and waiting, until the day of 21st, when one of the coordinators called me, asked if I am still ready to come on 25th of December and talk more about my willingness to help.
The thing that scared me a lot more was not the idea of the volunteering itself in the organization I didn’t know much about (though I did my deep research before even applying), it was mostly about the new people and new relationships with them.

To be honest, I was scared as hell, trembling while going upstairs (and not using the elevator) to prolong the time of arrival. I tried to be as slow as I can and turned the «turtle mode» on; unfortunately, my legs didn’t listen to me: I came a half hour before the meeting.
The first recollections of the evening: I was asked if I came to help to make sandwiches and I said «no», buffering like the old-fashioned equalizer on the antediluvian computer. My mind went blank. Hands were sweaty and I wanted to run away because I forgot what to say and started to address myself in 3rd person. I was so embarrassed, thank the heaven above Olya took me away and I was saved. Not for long obviously: there were more people to get acquainted with!

So many new faces and names; I would surely lie if I’ll say I recalled them on the very first evening. While the next meeting, I could say if I’ve seen this person before, but sometimes it was hard to distinguish who is who.

At first, she told me the history of the establishment and the community of Saint Giles, as people refer him in English, or Sant’ Egidio in Italian, who patronaged beggars, poor people, and others.

Later, she showed me some photos and videos about the Roma children and their community; couple videos were about the elder people who live in the retirement houses. Also, she mentioned about the couple projects they were in process of making.

Incredible, I still cannot understand how on Earth they manage to do events regularly and keep it all organized!

As time passed by, a couple of «freshly baked» volunteers which were noticeably older than me (not that I mind it) came by and we were introduced to our mentor Eugene for the task – to congratulate Roma children, who live in the suburbs of the capital, with the holidays and present them gifts.

We moved to the kitchen, we talked and we made the gifts, and we talked again: about the community, about the volunteering, about the life itself. I was the youngest in there at the moment and that was magical to be surrounded by a group of adults (funny, but I still can’t realize or take the fact that I am an adult too) who had their full-time jobs, completed degrees at the universities behind their backs, bright minds, creativity and strive to help and change the society; the fire in their eyes could burn the infinite number of enemies, but when it comes to the people they love it would just warm them up without causing any damage.


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