I have been 10 months in Birzai (Lithuania) doing an Erasmus + European Volunteer Service (EVS) called “Hi-5”. My project was related with children, I spent first 6 months in an orphanage and the rest 4 months in a taking center.
Thanks to the opportunity I had given I could know a new culture and language. Because of living in a small town, you can really see how people lives in the country. Also, I had the opportunity to help another associations: museum, school, youth center and kindergarten in Birzai. I feel so thankful to them, to give me the chance to have more experiences. In the museum, we made a touristic trip around and we made a report with our: what we like or not and what they could improve. At the school I have made few presentations about my country and what a volunteer means. At the Youth center I was teaching young local people Spanish language and in kindergarten I could have the chance to help them in sport activities.
In a volunteer schedule you have time to travel and to make small or big trips depending of the money you have. With the money you receive and depending of the place you are working you can travel more or less. Because for example, I was so lucky to work in Pagalbos Centras (Hosting organization), because I could eat there and they provided to me clothes. I could travel around Lithuania to know more about country. I have discovered a country full of nature (farms, lakes and forest) that I could watch wild animals so close and with not so many people, so for me it is perfect to really enjoy for example by bike.
During EVS project I had the opportunity to meet with others volunteers in the country. We have the on-arrival meeting: that times is usually in first few weeks in the country and it is perfect moment to know how to deal in the country. So, you get in contact with people around Lithuania that they can be sometimes your best friends (contact point when you travel or to have support). And the middle term (that meeting is usually in the half of the project), then I could meet other volunteers and know how they were doing here. Collect together our fears, emotions and feelings. After that week, I realized that when you do a volunteer in a country, you have a huge community of volunteers in that country and in others, that you can ask for help, to host in their flats and even to show you the city they are. And problems that you have they can have too, so by sharing you improve and grow as a person and volunteer.
This year here, it was special hard for myself because I got injured during my stance and when you are in foreign country everything is more difficult. You do not know people, language and how to deal there. So, you depend exclusive to your hosting or coordination association. The European card did not cover me during these months, and although Europe provide to volunteers an insurance health company (CIGNA), it changed the rules in middle of our project without any previous consultation. They got strict and for me was one of more problematic things here. When you are sick and you need a treatment but you need to wait around two or three weeks for them to reply…and sometimes you need an urgent surgery and then you feel that your life is not important for them. On my case, solution was to find the private hospital related with insurance company. Because in that hospital, thanks to the relationship between them, volunteers in Lithuania we did not have to pay anything. Anyway, when you are around three or four hours by bus of the hospital, because that hospital is in the capital. You realized that something is wrong. If volunteer projects are related mostly in small communities and you do not have that support in that places. Something must be change in our projects.
I experienced sadness, anger, homesick and mostly dejection because of spend months on the bed waiting for me to heal. During these months I realized how important tt is the health and that sometimes we need to wait to recover our bodies before anything else. Making a balance I had wasted time, energy and health during this year, but in another hand, I made new friends, enjoyed new experiences, I have been in new countries and I discovered my own limits. Sometimes you need to explore the world and to know your limits, also what things are important or really not. I also found a lot of people who helped me in that weeks, they were interested on my health. I am really happy to have them on my life. Thanks Lithuania for everything I hope to come back soon!