volunteer adventures

Topilnica Good Veles Kaput
May 7, 2012, 12:55 pm
Filed under: On the way, Uncategorized, Veles

by Sylwia Gorska

Few weeks ago, while staying in a beautiful village Papradista, 60 km from Veles, I had a chance to meet Igor Smilev and heard his story about the struggle for closing the lead and zinc smelting factory located within the city of Veles, whose operation has had devastating effects on people’s health. Igor is an environmental activist the leader of Green Power and citizen of Veles. In 2002 he and his friends contributed towards shutdown of the factory, in 2011 they organized one of the biggest protest in Macedonia against restarting of the factory. There have been a lot of studies on environment and people’s health, they all show that we can easily name the consequences of the factory an “environmental genocite”. I recommend watching a movie “Topilnica Good Veles Kaput” on youtube, words of a German engineer, who said them when he realized what his project had done to all the area and people.


Unfortunately for some money will be always much more important event then human lives. One of the director of the corporation that intends to restart the factory had filed a lawsuit against Igor for “endangering security”, “unauthorized recording”, “slander” and “insult”, requesting EUR 20,000 damages.

The case will be held on the 9 of May in Veles. Igor has a lot of friends, inhabitants of Veles and international organizations, giving him support. Let’s hope it will be enough to win this absurd case. I don’t see any other possibility. If he wins he plan to give the money to hospitals, especially gynecological departments, since in Veles was the highest level of miscarriages and anomalies of human embryos. On this day a big protest is planning. All the inhabitants of Veles and other cities will give support to Igor and fight for a normal life. 

“My friend Kim” by Sylwia Gorska
October 25, 2011, 4:25 pm
Filed under: On the way, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Some time ago we had an unusual guest in our house. Kim from South Korea, who stopped by during his travel around the world on his…bike! Yes, because Kim decided to give up his job as a Japanese teacher and travel around the world for 2 years, only on a bike, with almost no money or even mobile phone! He has like 50 kilo on his bike and a small blue box with a sigh “I need food”. He has also a big heart, inner humility and many priceless stories to tell! As what’s the most important strong belief in good people and that there is something more than money and social position in this world.

Meeting Kim inspired me and started to think that if you really want everything is possible. How often we even don’t try to do something simply just because. Because we have no money, no time, some responsibilities, we live in wrong place, in wrong time…always something. In fact to fulfilled your dream you don’t have to be a hero, you have to find a faith and courage to change something in your mind, to follow your heart not the crowd.  I know it can be hard but you have to search until you find, it can be a place, a person…when you find it, you will know that you don’t have to search any more. What’s most important you have to find yourself, your inner peace, without it you cannot build good relations with the world.

How it’s possible that Kim is travelling in this way without spending any money? I know the answer but I’ll not tell you. You have to figure it out alone!

You can follow Kim’s adventure here


Good luck Kim! Let your stomach is always full!

My first trip trough Makedonija by Laura Kroes
June 24, 2010, 6:01 pm
Filed under: On the way

After living in Skopje for almost three weeks now, it was time to travel around and see the non-Skopje parts of Macedonia. I decided to hitch-hike from Skopje to Struga. Annes, an ex-EVS volunteer wanted to join me, so we made a ‘Струга’ sign and went out on the road. The good road for hitch-hiking was too far to walk, so we decided to go to a worse place instead. It turned out that it wasn’t that bad at all, some guys picked us up pretty soon and took us to the ‘good road’.

After waiting for about 30 minutes, somebody picked us up and brought us to Gostivar. A city in the North West of Macedonia. When we arrived in Gostivar, the driver offered us a coffee and ice-cream. When the coffee was finished, he wanted to show us his workplace; it turned out that he works for a company that distributes energy drinks, called ‘Big Bill’. Which is pretty funny actually. After receiving some raincoats (just in case we needed it…) and two ‘Big Bills’ each, we were ready to hit the road again!

After waiting for a while, two Albanian guys gave us a hitch-hike to Struga. One of the guys had been working in the energy drink business as well. I guess it’s popular around here… At this moment he’s working in the cigarette business, selling about seven different brands, and of course he insisted to give us some package of his ‘luxury cigarettes’, called ‘Tabaccheria’. After buying us drinks (even more energy drinks..), chips and chocolate bananas at a gas station, we went on to Struga. It was a bit of a smoky ride (they smoked for about two hours with all the windows closed), but a fast one.

After arriving in Struga we went to a youth exchange with other EVS volunteers about ‘Life is in your hands’. We weren’t sure of a place to sleep when we left Skopje, so it was really great that Marta offered us a bed. She’s a Latvian volunteer, working for another magazine named ‘Do Right’.
We had a nice evening with the other international people, drinking too much beer, and after climbing the stairs of three wrong apartments, we finally arrived at the right one.

The next day, a great thunderstorm woke me up at 9.00 a.m. I wasn’t able to sleep anymore, so I went outside to see what Struga has to offer. Around 1.00 p.m. I asked a bus driver if he was planning to travel to Skopje. He couldn’t speak English (bus drivers never want to speak English with me), so we started talking German with each other. I tried to ask him at which time he left and how much I had to pay, he told me; ‘keine sorgen!’. And after a free bus ride and two free cups of coffee, I arrived back in Skopje.

Jar of dreams by Andrzej Bukowski
November 18, 2009, 1:55 pm
Filed under: On the way

“I’ll go there quickly to make a movie and come back to Skopie”. This was my plan before I went to Struga on a documentary project. The truth was different. After I came I started to have a bad feeling about the whole situation. Divided into groups, all the time brainstorming. Dreams as a theme of our film confused me. The weather was like it is in a village in Ireland –  raining all day. The jar of  my feeling was full of strange colored water. But after a few days something swithed in my mind. The jar started to be filled with new liquid.

Working with a team is usually hard for me. But a few hours with people who are focussed on the same stuff – shoothing videos and editing, gives almost unlimited energy. Tiredness is just one state in the process of making a film. Moods change like sine wave. Once you are happy with ideas and results but next moment you’re stuck for four hours because the editing program is not working. You need to keep saying to yourselves “it’s good work, it’s not so bad, it will be super film” to not feel demotivated. The final result is always suprising. From nothing you get a material thing – film. And it’s not so important what is inside the movie. What’s important is the feeling of exitment when you say to a group member “we finished our work, we have a film”. The positivity of everything around starts to grow.

But not only this changed the color of liquid in my jar. Ohrid lake spread its unique energy of silence and concentration, happiness and meditation. Feeling which was hidden inside me started to go out from my body. Charging energy of body and brain by the sun in the morning and walking on the coast in evening. The liquid started to be almost transparent, you can almost see inside your soul. Everything is balanced.

After changing my enviroment to Skopie, I’m scared to lose those thoughts. I am trying to drink water from the jar really slowly to keep as long as possible the positive feelings which I gained at Ohrid lake

Eulogy for All Small Cities by Tomas Marcinkevičius
November 13, 2009, 10:59 pm
Filed under: On the way

Rain, which has been steadily washing streets of Kavadarci since early morning, decided to take a rest for a few hours. Water vapor rises from streets of the Macedonian wine capital and creates thick fog, which, together with falling twilight, conceals the identities of scarce passersby.

Kavadarci park is just wonderful. Lampposts by carefully laid walking paths refuse to light and the only colour that can be seen is fading yellow of autumn leaves. It’s all quiet as I go up the hill in what has probably been a botanic garden at some time. Locals probably see no pleasure in walking here in this wet weather, so I meet nobody on my way up, except for monuments of Macedonian guerillas.

On the top I can sit for a while and rest my head from noises of busy Skopje. City lights and random lizards are my only companions. Silence is incredible, the kind that you can only experience in small cities.

Kavadarci has about 30-40 thousand inhabitants. Any person of common sense leaves this city (it is evidently a town, but I’ll call it that way, Kavadarci deserves that) after finishing school. And why wouldn’t they, when there’s Skopje and Sofia and Belgrade?.. So, the city folk seem to comprise only from children, teenagers, their parents and grandparents. On Friday night, underage public rules the town, hanging around in parks and in front of provincial night clubs. People over 18 are not of abundance in the crowds.

The city is famous for its huge winery as well as tobacco and ferro-nickel industries. I think I know what it’s like to grow up here. I come from a similar city. Artificially inflated in soviet times, made into an industrial hub for wine and fridges, it all fell down after regaining independence. I loved it, its parks and silent streets at night, its inner aggression and dissent, its subculture, the feeling of being somewhat special in my own small city. I left it for Vilnius after finishing school and so did most of my friends. Those, who didn’t, will do it. I feel pity for those who won’t, as I see them struggling to find a job, taking up alcohol and drugs, regressing and killing themselves slowly every other day…

Real Lithuania is not Vilnius as well as real Macedonia is not Skopje. Small cities all over the land make the country what it is. These small cities and their inhabitants have their own culture, which is neglected every day. They’re provincial and abandoned, but still, they keep on passing the days, keep on moving to some direction, usually straight to the abyss, but they’re still moving. Strong and unpretentious, they will be a foundation of every nation till all human civilization goes bust.

Seesawing stars by Christopher Fleming
November 12, 2009, 10:52 pm
Filed under: On the way

Ohrid lake. Photo by Andrzej BukowskiAbove the winding road to Struga; stars appear to seesaw in the dark. The moon comes tumbling after, as if it were tied to a piece of string. Passengers sleep in the dim interior of the coach.

The same road by day, in driving rain. Ascending into cloud that hung on the mountains like gossamer. Fresh rain like a great dew on the landscape. Grey fog on autumn boughs. Rock and wood.

Blue sky promenade by the great lake. A yellow volkswagon from Ohrid (a dusty red bus in Skopje). She’s looking at me with what I’m sure is affection. I confess my complete lack of direction. Remarks on my silence.

Some things never change. Like some theatre where only the backdrop is rearranged. Characters act familiar stories and utter lines I’ve heard before. Alcohol distorts the politics of our night – dictates approaches made to strangers, like cold callers naive to the dancefloor protocol. I get distracted by chemistry and energy as we play second guess the sexes.

What a strange train’s company… by Ludivine Egounleti
November 12, 2009, 10:43 pm
Filed under: On the way

Two days ago, with my roommates, we went to Thessaloniki for the week end.  Here we are, Friday evening, waiting for the train, 30 minutes late. This is not a surprise, actually, we expected worst, but there is one thing that we didn’t expected. As the train was (finally) coming, dozens of people started to go on the railway, and stand in the middle of the railway, to get to the train faster, and get the best places, which are, actually, the seats. The train, and after a few fights, we got in, and sat ! But this was the last strange thing of the trip, concerning trains. After two days in Thessaloniki, we thought about buy our way-back tickets, for the day after. We call the train’s company, and hear that “It is impossible to book a train ticket one day before, we have to do it the day we want to travel”. Well, let’s go tomorrow morning, and book our tickets… we didn’t expect that “It is impossible to book a ticket now, you have to wait one hour before the train leaves” … Well, these people are strange, and the worst, I think, was to see that we could use this tickets during 2 months, after the day we bought it … well, it looks like this is not the end of surprises !

March 12, 2009, 3:20 pm
Filed under: Culture, EVS, Life in Skopje, On the way


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