In Transylvania, in Romania, a group of young Europeans are on a very special year-long mission. Generation Y followed them as they took up the challenge to bring smiles to children in hospital
For some the work allows them to make their most of their talents.
“This is what I want to bring together in a creative way: art and working with children. I would like to develop both after my year here,” explained Lisa Köstner.
Working as a volunteer can be a rich source of inspiration, according to Lisa who makes short animation films based on her experience. Last September, she left Austria to come to Cluj-Napoca, in Romania.
“I finished high school last year and I looked for possibilities to go abroad. But since I didn’t have the financial means, some friends told me about EVS,” she says.
The aim remains to offer a whole world of experience to young people aged between 18 and 30. As Lisa and Julio Del Pino Molina from Spain did, Hannah Dando from England and Viviane Clemens from Germany found a place to fulfill personal projects.
“I didn’t yet know what to study. And I wanted to do something useful. That’s when I thought about taking a year doing volunteering. I thought it might be cool,” said Vivianne.
The group is preparing artwork to present to a very special audience.
“We often work together before we go, in order to see what we can do in different hospitals,” explained Viviane. “Other times, we first work on our own and later show each other what we’ve done, so that different ideas can be created.”
Hannah and the other volunteers have gained something of a hero-status among their young patients.
For Hannah for variety is key: “We’re split into two groups. Me and Julio go to Pediatrics and Nephrology through the week and we alternate on days. Lisa and Vivi go to two separate hospitals. And then on Fridays we all come together and work in Psychiatry.”
Julio stressed the importance of treating each child as an individual: “What we are doing here is developing social-cultural animation for the kids. It’s not something very specific, we adapt it to every kid’s needs.”
“We don’t know and we don’t want to know what illness they have exactly. Our work is not to help them that way. We’re here to help to fill their time. When working with them it’s absurd to go with a preconception of their limitations, because they have this or that illness. Each kid is a world and the only limitations are the ones you give yourself,” Julio added.
Ioana Bere coordinates the volunteer project dubbed ’3G! – Go. Give. Gain’: “You [the volunteer] go out of your comfort zone and your comfort situation at home; you give time, energy and ideas to the project; and then you gain… personal growth, I would say.”
Julio explained his motivation: “I have a community responsibility, especially in these days. I cannot work in my own country due to the political situation, for instance. But yes, I do feel everyone shares in the responsibility and also that this is something that I’m receiving not giving.”
“I think people start to understand that the value of volunteering – besides the fact that you bring something to the community – is that you are the first person to benefit out of it,” said Iona.
“And when you get to realise that you understand that you’re doing a service for yourself firstly.”