In June, our Serve the City community saw two Big Volunteer Weeks taking place – one in Romania and the other in Bosnia and Herzegovina. To know a little more about these events, we went straight to the source.
Keep reading to hear what the organisers and volunteers had to say about their Big Volunteer Weeks!
This year’s Big Volunteer Week in Timisoara, taking place from the 4th to the 10th of June, gathered together 30 volunteers of all ages to work on projects focusing on youth, social exclusion and the urban environment. Volunteers worked with children at partner organizations including Onesimus House orphanage, Foundation for You and Debora House for female victims of abuse, and provided practical help to 6 low-income families. The volunteer week also included a big clean-up at a local park.
Georgi Dugulescu, City Leader of STC Timisoara, shares that:
“The Big Volunteer Week brings us more partners and friendships and this is the most important thing for us. We start by doing small things for different people,, and grow from this. We had a great team ! A diverse group of volunteers with different talents doing small things together…This is what I enjoyed so much! I loved being with people from the projects (beneficiaries) – we didn’t not only clean but we brought them joy ! It makes me happy to see how grateful they were. “
Jay Benfante also writes about how this week was for him:
“I got to spend a lot of time with teenagers during the week that were having their first volunteer experience. Much like my first experience volunteering they took a risk and did things and went places that they had never done before. We visited a Roma family living on the outskirts of Timisoara. We visited them and painted their living room and patched some holes in their floor for the father (who was disabled) to get around more easily. Many of the youth hadn’t been to this part of the city before and were apprehensive. We had too many volunteers to fit in the small living room so many of the youth gathered outside to play with the kids. This turned into a project of its own where the youth would come and play games and sing songs with many kids from around the neighborhood. They were already speaking of how excited they were to go back and visit the kids. If we can keep creating moments like this, I think we are exactly where we need to be. Crossing the line. STC Big Volunteer Weeks are an important way for us to grow roots in the cities we serve”
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Two weeks later, another big volunteer week took place in Mostar. Jay, who had helped organise this event, writes about the ways in which it built community connections:
“Our second BVW in Mostar was smaller than the former year, which can be discouraging. We always want growth and that can be all we focus on. But this week though it was more quiet it was much more personal. As we experience those we serve and those we served alongside, turn from acquaintances to friends. We did many social projects with people with disabilities, spending quality time together and sharing many laughs and smiles. One highlight for me was seeing the sacrifice of our returning volunteers and their commitment to the work. Many university students came out to cross the line in the middle of exams, others sacrificed time that could have been spent on the coast, tearing up old floors in a homeless shelter. We have hopes of a new core team of volunteers forming in Mostar, during this next year. Looking forward to seeing how they share love in their city next!”