volunteer adventures

January 15, 2012, 4:31 pm
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Last December, crazy volunteers from Skopje and Bitola decided to explore Pristina during the Skena Up Festival… Check it out our experience in the Kosovarian roads in this awesome video and pictures!!!!

Statues on the 5th of December – by Sara Fantova and Matilda Norling
January 12, 2012, 2:48 pm
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On the 5th of december, Matilda, Koen and me (Sara) went to the center to promote volunteerism by doing the thing that Skopje is the best in, STATUES.

ON ARRIVAL TRAINING IN SARAJEVO by Sara Fantova & Jadwiga Mistak
November 25, 2011, 7:13 am
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Luxury and delight – two words describing on-arrival training. But we deserve after 15 hours in the bus going through Serbia and even part of Croatia, definitely we deserve. Some of you already have seen our room and bathroom in the photos, but its worth to know that only we have a bath or so called Jacuzzi 😉

Last Sunday night we took a bus from Skopje to go to Sarajevo, after 15 hours and several stops to check the passport we arrive to the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We were tired so we slept and after went to dinner. After dinner we had the first session of the training, we were too much so we were split in two groups.

The next four mornings and some afternoons were dedicated to the training, we spoke about how to solve problems, the different positions that each person takes in front of the problem, identity, what is normal for us and for our community, about our host country, about our personal projects, learning process, evs as service, youth in action, aha moments… We also made some theatre.

We had also great opportunity to express ourselves during AHA Space, space for learning, findings, feelings, facts and joker. We tried not to follow the polish –complaining stereotype, but nobody is perfect, so one AHA-space changed into group therapy 😉 What was surprising – people who never met before listened and solved together more or less significant problems and motivated each other. Was it worth? AHA, for sure.

On Thursday afternoon we had the free afternoon to visit Sarajevo. First we went to the Olympic museum, which I didn’t like too much. After we went for a walk in Sarajevo, we went to the top of a hotel to see the skyline of Sarajevo at night. After we eat cheap “cevapi”, and after we went to two bar-pubs.

Last day, it was all about reflecting about all the training. We spoke about all we learnt, about how we felt… At night we had a good bye party in the hotel.

Pictures by Sara Fantova & Marta Maja Lipińska

Tree Day in Macedonia by Koen
November 23, 2011, 2:29 pm
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Today – Wednesday, November 23 – is one of the days in the year that is proclaimed ‘Tree Day’ in Macedonia. Although we already planted some trees last week on ‘Tolerance Day’, we were excited to join the masses to some place outside of the city, using the free busses that leave from the big Sports centre close to our house.

Together with the volunteers from Kreaktiv in Skopje ambitious plans were made the night before to go early in the morning. When we finally were ready to go in to the wild, with the 14:00 shift, five young Europeans went on their way to re-forest Macedonia, one tree at a time.

As is usual in Skopje there is little to no information at bus stops, so we decided to wait on the street in front on the arena, all of us feeling the usual combination of uncertainty and despair when waiting for a bus to come. After a few minutes we decided to look around the corner at the main street to see a bus full of children with a small improvised Tree Day sign in the window racing passed us. The children waved at us enthusiastically. Then we saw the bus leaving towards the – undoubtedly re-forested – horizons.

Fifteen more minutes of waiting brought the unanimous decision to walk back home. Apparently our EVS colleague Anouk did plant some trees on mountain Vodno. The trees that were left from Tolerance Day, but no-one will ever know or see the difference, I guess.

Back home we found small consolation in our own garden. Our beloved pear-tree; that gave us almost unlimited fruit-goodness during summer but now sadly has lost all its leaves seemed to be in need of some extra autumn attention. Pictures below.

Set out your shoe
November 12, 2011, 7:58 pm
Filed under: Culture, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

The start of the mandarin season, a new kind of candy with marzipan from the shop around the corner and the smell of freshly baked gingerbread reminds me of the arrival of Saint Nicholas (‘Sinterklaas’). Coincidence or not, today children’s best friend arrived in Antwerp by boat from Spain. At least that is where he supposedly lives since the 19th century. Some say the tradition goes back to Nikolaos of Myra, a Greek bishop to whom many miracles were attributed.

In Belgium, the Netherlands and a part of Germany Saint Nicholas can be compared to Santa Claus. He is an old man with white hair and a long beard. He wears a long red cape and an alb and on his head stands a red mitre. He carries a big book with him stating whether the children have been good or not. If they have behaved well their names are written on the golden pages, if not, their names are written on the red pages and they risk go be taken in a bag to Spain. Saint Nicholas is always accompanied by his white horse and traditionally one Black Pete (‘Zwarte Piet’).  Black Pete helps Saint Nicholas by carrying the candy and the presents and going down the chimney to put the presents in the shoes of the children. On the evening of the 5th of December Belgian children set out their shoe and a plate with food for the horse near the chimney, a window or a door. In the morning they find gifts, tangerines and chocolate.

Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated in Europe in many different ways. In Czech Republic for example children disguise as Saint Nicholas, the devil and the angel and sing songs from door to door. In the German part of Switzerland the saint sits on a donkey and does not come from Spain but out of the woods. In Croatia ‘Sveti Nikola’ visits on December 6 bringing presents to children as a reward for their good behavior. If the children have been bad, they will be visited by the creature of ‘Krampus’, who will make the parents punish the children.

Belgians most popular television show about the arrival of Saint Nicholas (‘Dag Sinterklaas’) is almost 20 years old but is still being shown on national television every year during the weeks before the 6th of December. I suggest you all set out your shoe…

November 7, 2011, 11:03 am
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Speaking whit my housemate Koen, volunteer from The Netherlands, I realized that things that for someone can be normal, for other people can be disgusting.

We’re talking about cheese. My island is quite famous for the huge number of sheep (there are more sheep than people…) and from their milk we produce cheese of different kinds. One of them is called Casu marzu, that literally translated becomes “rotten cheese”. The explanation for this weird name is easy: inside of this cheese you can find live insect larvas. These larvas go into the cheese and create a soft cream. Of course, if you want to eat this cheese, you have also to eat the larves, but this has never been a problem for the people of my land.

In this video you can see how relaxed is the Sardinian man with green t-shirt while the other one is a little bit perplexed.

Problems started when oversea people (from Italy and the European Union) decided that, according to the food hygiene-health regulations, maybe the larves can create illnesses for the stomach and the cheese was outlawed for a time. This didn’t stop the production of Casu marzu and the sole effect obtained was just an increase in the price. But every law has a loophole: because of the insistence of the sheep farmers, the government declared the cheese a “traditional” food and now its productions is no longer considered illegal.

According to some statistics, Casu marzu is one of the most terrryfing foods in the world. Well, only people from outside the island think this because in Sardegna this food is considered a delicacy…Personally, I don’t eat it, but for us it’s normal to see other people eating Casu marzu with relish. They assure that it’s fantastic and if you try it for sure you’ll enjoy..

By the way, no one died eating Casu marzu!!!

November 1, 2011, 10:15 pm
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Wanna make a perfect barbecue in October on the beach?

All you need is:

– 1 grille from the oven,

– 2 Polish,

– 2 Germans,

– 1 Spanish,

– 1 Sardinian,

– Ohrid trout and wine as much as you like!!

Last week during a cold afternoon Kuba, volunteer from Poland, had this brilliant idea… People from South-Europe (me and Manu, from Madrid) looked at him astonished. Was it possible? Was it good to spend the evening in the beach with that cold weather when we could cook the fish comfortably at home?

Well, it was possible…

As soon as we arrived in the beach, the Polish (Kuba and Grzegorz, another volunteer) and Germans (a couple that’s travelling around East Europe by bike), equipped with light on the head, started to find wood and make a hole in the sand to build a barbecue with a normal grille and two stones. Manu and me were more and more amazed… In less than no time, the fire was ready and our teeth stopped to chat with cold. Straight afterwards also the fish was ready and it was extremely good..

And so, thanks to North European savoir-faire, we enjoyed exquisite fish, good wine and excellent company!!