I’m Elena and during the summer I had the opportunity to reach one of my goals: to be in charge of exchange programs. Due to the fact that I had participated in 5 before my EVS. I was an experienced participant and I felt the need to develop my leadership skills, too. I chose two completely different camps: an eco- camp and a camp with people with disabilities. The reason was that in that way I could have a variety of challenges and experiences.
Slatinka, the location of my first eco-camp, it’s a fairy tale village in central Slovakia, literally in the middle of nowhere and the Slatinka Association was established in 1993 as a reaction to the construction of the Slatinka water dam on the Slatina River. The accommodation was in the beautiful, old school of the village and the living conditions were a bit challenging since there wasn’t running water, the village is remoted and the phone signal was poor. The work was manual and mostly done in and around the village. We constructed dry toilets, we did gardening, painting, cleaning of the trails and we really had fun during work. Beside that I gained lots of practical skills since I learned how to properly use some tools, I also became more conscious about environment, climate change and sustainable living. As a leader I had many responsibilities and I’m thankful that I had a great co-leader that we could communicate efficiently and spread the tasks equally. What I’ve learned in this camp as a leader is how to motivate the volunteers, deal with conflicts and be creative in the kitchen, cooking tasty meals with a few ingredients! The highlights for me are: our trip to the Low Tatras and the fact that almost all reached the top, the night that we cooked parene buchti and the volunteers were so enthusiastic about this sweet, Slovak meal and our trip to Banska Bystrica.
Barlicka Assosiation hosted my second camp in Presov, the third biggest city in Slovakia. Barlicka is a centre with people with mental and physical disabilities and our task was to organise activities for them. At the beginning I was concerned about the language barrier but soon I’d realised that our strong willingness to make those people’s days the best of their life overcame that obstacle. All people who are working in the Association were supportive and we were provided all the materials that we needed in order to implement our activities. The volunteers but also we, the leaders had many ideas and I’m glad that the clients seemed to have a great time. We created colourful pinatas, a handprint tree of volunteering, we went for trips, we danced a lot and our favourite, daily activity was body painting. The urban location was perfect to organise some activities for the volunteers after work in the city, like bowling and climbing wall but it was also close to landmarks like Kapusiansky castle which was nice for visiting during the weekend. My favourite day though, was for sure the Feast of Cultures where everybody cooked some traditional food and presented our countries. However, we were not alone because the clients helped us with the preparations and it was such a great feeling to share part of your culture with them. I have to admit that I was really emotional in this camp because of the social work, the connection with the clients but also because of the strong dynamic of the group. Because of my studies I’ve been provided with medical knowledge about several diseases and disabilities and after this camp I’m aware of how to work and communicate with these people, the difficulties that the face in their everyday life and ways that they could be adapted in the society and become independed.
After leading two international voluntary camps I feel more mature and self-assured, I crossed my limits and I got to know myself better. Overall it was a great experience and I feel grateful for the chance I’ve been given.
Elena Krokidi (2019): I’m a 22 years old Biomedical Laboratories Sciences student from Greece and I was an EVS volunteer at INEX Slovakia who’s always looking for opportunities to develop myself.