Monday, September 25, 2017

Insights on my EVS in Liepaja

I got an opportunity to write an article about my EVS in Liepaja, Latvia. Firstly I'm going to introduce myself to you. I am Saad, from Pakistan But I'm living abroad (Europe) for last 7 and half years. I have been in Italy for last three years. As I was in Italy my Italian teacher told me about this project in Radi Vidi Pats on 21st July 2017. She told me I could learn so much through this project, for example about this other country, about their culture and also can learn about people and I should avail this opportunity. At first I wasn't sure about this because it was a month long project so I asked her for time to think. I came back home and did research about this organisation named Radi Vidi Pats. I came to know that this project is all about how to fix bikes and riding. I love bikes and riding so my love for bikes compelled me to say yes to this project and this is how my journey started...

Welcome to Liepaja

InformaGiovani is actually the organisation that helped me with my trip. I volunteered for this project and on 5th September 2017 I flew to this cold but beautiful place Liepaja,Latvia. I was very excited about my trip but when I reached here the room that was reserved for me was completely a mess and i wasn't satisfied. Actually it was very untidy and specially very cold place to live for human beings. Any how I managed myself and made that place suitable for me to live.

Next morning we were called for meeting. There were some specific tasks assigned to me. As I started I found it really difficult to adjust in such foreign language and culture. Next day the other 2 long term volunteers Luka and Eeva took us to city tour. I was stunned by the beauty and calmness of this place. During first week of my stay I visited an animal shelter Luvas Sirds (NO DOG NO FUN). I visited whole place and took,some dogs to walk. It was completely new experience for me as I am not a very dog lover person but all in all it was fun. They also showed us (Luka and Eeva) multimedia data for Bikes repairing. It was honestly very helpful for getting information before actually get started a practical task. In the last day of my first week mean Sunday I went to Lithuania for visit that was amazing journey for me. In the end my first week was beyond my expectations. I surprisingly enjoyed it very much.

As the second week started there was lots of practical works waiting for me. At the begining of the second week I visited old Radi Vidi Pats work place. There was once I visited in my first week but that place is so bad I have no words to describe. Any how that was some kind of godown where a pile of rotten wooden planks were stored, that place was a complete mess. I really got angry when i first saw that place but with lot of effort and hard-work I and other volunteers and head of the Radi Vidi Pats organisation we turn that crap place into an acceptable godown and also in the second week they told us how to work with cycles, tyres, changing tube, repair and maintenance of vehicles. I found it very interesting for learning purpose but on the other hand very dirty and unhygienic to do. During my second week stay I visited the famous Liepaja beach. I found it really beautiful place, so far best place till now during my stay and also that weekend I went to youth house to attend Latvian culture programme. I really got inspired by that. Latvian people have very beautiful culture and I also learn that they are also very generous and beautiful. At the end of second week I could say that I felt more comfortable then previous week.

Volunteering at Radi Vidi Pats
 As I am passing my third week here in Liepaja, I'm enjoying myself and spending my memorable trip of life. We had usual routine meeting on Monday with staff and other volunteers to discuss our problems, our last week and coming week tasks. As I mention you before that I am Pakistani so our staff give me a task to organise a cultural night so I put light on my Pakistani culture and tell them about my country more and to clear their view and prospect about my country if they have any doubts. That's the main task but we have also other tasks too. I am away from my country for so long so I tell my organisation about my problem that I maybe can't properly do it so they suggested me at Leipaja university where a group of Pakistani students can help me to complete my task. So I had meeting with them which helped me a lot.

I think this experience in Liepaja, Latvia will be very memorable for me. Only one thing I dislike about this country that majority of people believe in evolution. They don't believe in any religion and also they don't believe in God. Any way everybody is free and have rights to follow any religion and believes and we should respect this. As being stranger here I was very confused earlier but as passing time I think I am falling in love with this place. My staff here also very helpful and made our trip memorable by giving us challenging tasks. Sometime I have problem to communicate with people here because of different language But the good thing is in the other side of the country they mostly speak English.

Saad Ali

A long journey to Latvia

Hello! My name is Khalid and I come from Muqdisho, Somalia. I left my country because of a civil war and the past twelve years I lived many countries in Europe, now I live in Italy and I'm a student.

This is me...Khalid
One day my teacher asked me if I'm interested to participate a social programme volunteering, European Voluntary Service. I didn't know much about it but later I accepted it because personally I love integration and other cultures. And this is why now I am here in Liepaja, Latvia.
We are repairing the bicycles, rearranging the workshop for bicycles. We went to present the freakbikes in another village, far away. We drove like 4 hours one way. There was a school and children and I liked it. I liked to be there and speak and give the bicycles to those children to ride.

me, while learning how to fix bikes

Now this week we are repairing the windows in the hosting organisations' house we live in. So I learn to use different tools. I like when I see that I can do something, that something becomes better than it was.

I like it here in Latvia. There is no summer, it is cold. But the people are very good, social, they communicate. They speak English, almost everyone, they help. I see Latvian people give a lot of freedom to their children. In Somalia it is not like this. In Somalia children are not free. They sit all the day at home, because parents are too much afraid that some accident can happen and then if you have to take someone to the hospital, it costs a lot of money. That's why children are not allowed to play, to go to the sea, because people are afraid of hospitals.

"I 💟 Liepaja"
Here in Latvia I was first time in my life in the forest. I had seen it only in movies before. We pick up mushrooms. I don’t eat mushrooms. In my country we don't eat mushrooms. But I liked a forest. It was very good idea. I would be afraid to go there alone, but with other people, other volunteers, it was good.
I also like here because I am all the time with other people. Sometimes I miss my Italian friends, but I am here with other people and I feel good. I don't like to be alone.

My mentor and me, at the beach
For me and other volunteers I see that EVS is a good way to get socialised, to get to know different people from different cultures. You communicate a lot. For me people are the most important and here I feel them, I am with them and it is a big value for me. People are good. And I wish for everyone to be a good person. Only good can change the world.

Khalid, Liepaja (Latvia)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Welcome back in Lefkada

I spent the last month of my EVS making toys for children, the task was to create educational toys with recycled materials. I had the opportunity to enhance group work and cooperation with the other volunteers and, of course, it was a nice way to improve my creativity.

Moreover, I had the possibility to work with a greek volunteer at the touristic information point, It was a great experience, I learned a lot of Greek words and I became more curious to discover the city and the people of Lefkada.

Since I was very thrilled to become familiar with this Island, I started walking around Lefkada, and I was so charmed by the local traditional architecture, the houses covered with iron sheets and painted in light colors, with wooden and colorful window shutters, stray cats adopted and fed by locals enjoying small and vivid gardens full of beautiful flowering plants. They say “the people make the place”, and I wanted to get in touch with the deep, real soul of this island, far from cliché and stereotypes, so I started touring and collecting street portraits of people from Lefkada in their daily life, while they’re working, walking or simply enjoying a coffee in cafenios

Lefkada people

Lefkada people

Lefkada people

Lefkada people

During my EVS, I had the idea of volunteering in a refugee camp. Thanks to the support of my sending organization, InformaGiovani, I asked for a few days off and I went to Katiskas refugee Camp, in Ioannina. At the entrance of the camp there were children playing around the miniature of Hams’ old clock tower. 

The refugees have engraved on the clock tower the arrival date on the camp, the date when their life stops.

Katiskas refugee Camp

Katiskas refugee Camp

No school for children and teens, no work for women and men. Everybody was waiting to move forward, to be relocated in North Europe: Germany, Sweden and Great Britain. Thanks to the support of the Ngo’s and the volunteers, their daily life was better, the children were busy with English classes, women and men were involved in workshops organized by the volunteers.

Katiskas refugee Camp

Katiskas refugee Camp

I learned a lot during my EVS, but the most important thing is that even a small gesture done with love can change or improve others’ lives. So, let’s make the world change!

From Lefkada, with love!