Two Ukrainians in Romania

Anastasia and Mykola are two long term volunteers from Ukraine, hosted by Team for Youth Association in Baia Mare. Part of their activities include working with visually impaired people, organizing and implementing after-school activities for children and facilitating intercultural summer camps organized in the rural communities around Baia Mare.  This is their story so far:

Anastasiia Lukianenko, 22 :

Nowadays with such a busy lifestyle not everybody can find time for volunteering. Fortunately I did. After a really inspiring EVS story of a friend of mine I realized that it was just a perfect time to try something like this.

A lot of people asked me why I had chosen Romania. Well, to tell the truth, the project written by T4UTH looked as if created just for me so I decided to try my fortune. And after an online interview on Skype with Solvita, the coordinator of our project, I became a part of “Eye care/Day care” team.

The project has two completely different target groups: kids of age 6 – 13 and visually impaired people. So far I can say that I made the right choice as I really enjoy my activities. I have never had experience in work with blind people before. English lessons with blind ladies were one of the best things I have done here. One more interesting thing I should mention is a movie festival for blind people. Yes, it is not a mistake; I also couldn’t believe it is possible! But it is real and pretty amazing. As for activities with kids, I enjoyed my experience in camps which we had in summer. I felt like I could do it all over again.

I can’t help but say few words about Romania as it is. First thing I would like to mention the beauty of its nature.  You have to see the mountains and fields, rivers and waterfalls to understand what I mean. By the way, the region we stay is called Maramures and it is famous for its friendly and welcoming citizens. I can confirm this fact. It goes without saying that their hospitality made my integration to this country and culture much easier so now I feel like I fit in this place.

I would like to say that your EVS can not be what you expect and it will surprise you for sure. It is only up to YOU if it makes a difference or not.

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Of course my EVS has its own ups and downs. Time to time I felt bored and didn’t understand what to do, maybe I even wanted to change things around me. So, sometimes my EVS wasn’t perfect but our life isn’t perfect as well. I definitely advice you to try EVS if you want to discover an absolutely new culture and to change your life.

Mykola Mysko, 28:

Dreamer, nomad, philanthropist, rebel, depressed or optimistic or just a person who no longer wants to be identified just by his/her job, no matter who you are European Voluntary Service is a good opportunity for you. Furthermore, it’s one of the very few voluntary options that is completely free, but also provides you with accommodation, food, and other facilities and even with pocket money.

When I’m writing these words, almost 8 months of EVS are behind me, 8 out of 12. I found out about EVS after my then-girlfriend left me to go to Italy. There she found her love and ended up getting married and moving to Spain with her husband after her project was finished. So, I got interested – some cool stuff must happen in EVS 🙂

Meanwhile, besides being a kind and curious person, new motivational factors appeared: both my English level and my economic situation in Ukraine needed a change. I started to apply for different projects; it was quite random and therefore inconsistent and non-effective. Suddenly I got an offer from my sending organization: their partners from Romania needed a few Ukrainian volunteers and here I am – in Baia Mare.

Fabulous nature and plenty of mosquitoes in the summer, friendly, hard-working people and a big population of poor Romani, tasty and cheap wine and lack of variety of bread, fresh air from the mountains and smoking people all around. Every place has its pros and cons. As for me I’ve decided that my cup is half-full, because “Life fails to be perfect, but never fails to be beautiful”. And, surely, “beauty is in eyes of beholder”.

What do I do there? My project is about work with children and with blind people. Of course the project matters. Wrong project could lead you to exhaustion and depression. The right project could help feel like you could one day save the world. I can’t say that any EVS project is either right or wrong. Actually it’s not only about volunteering, or being right or wrong. I suspect it to be mostly about YOUR self-development. At least I hope so, because in some cases the project, the host-organization, other team-mates and my motivation do not work as I would like. It’s up to you; it’s up to your expectations, wisdom, energy and peace. It’s up to your ability to “develop solidarity and promote active citizenship and mutual understanding among young people”. As someone once said: “Some things in life are out of your control, you can make it a party or a tragedy”.

Do I like it? Yes. In my case most pleasure comes not from the project activities. I hope I’m a minority. Nice country and people, multicultural environment and time for myself… that’s what I really enjoy. If I was someone else – I would add to this list food, parties and traveling, mostly by hitchhiking.

Maybe because of autumn weather, maybe because of runny nose in this very minute, if you are reading this it could seem that I am not happy with my EVS. I am. Why? Funny-sounding Romanian words, sunsets with mountains on the background, sound of church bells and wedding processions, picturesque wooden gates, empty and mysterious streets after 9 pm, stray dogs and night bicycle trips, delicious Gigi-covrigi (lovely takeaway pastries and bagels) after activities, green leaves in November, plastic money that can be washed in washing machine, and of course – the people. Poor and happy Romani children along the roads, woman in a bank who offered us a bottle of juice after money exchange, local guy who helped me with laptop for free, few guys that picked us up hitchhiking and told funny stories and fed us, my mentor who lent me few euros when I run out of money, kids that presented me with bracelets, kind grannies at the open market, cheerful young people, and obviously – full of energy local volunteers, who help us from time to time.

Just love the life and life will love you back. So do I. At least, I try to do. And from time to time I succeed. And then I’m happy

Sometimes to feel happy I only need my girlfriend from Latvia, another EVS volunteer. She is leaving in few days. And unlike my ex-girlfriend, I haven’t gotten married. Would I recommend it (EVS)? For sure, if you aren’t on your straight line to success and are capable of doing things differently than you are used to.

Anastasiia and Mykola are implementing the ”Eye Care / Day Care” project,  a twelve months European Voluntary Service (EVS) hosted by Team for Youth Association, in Baia Mare, in Romania and financed by the European Commission, through the Erasmus+ Programme.


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