This is what Kinga, our first EVS volunteer, wrote independently in Croatian (translated here) about EVS and his commitment to Brave Phone.
“I come from Gdansk in Poland and I am a student of Slavic Studies and Cultural Studies. As part of my first subject – Slavic Studies – I learn Croatian, and I love Croatia, Zagreb, and of course the Croatian language. A few months ago I thought that I could come to Croatia on a volunteer project and so live in my favorite country and, most importantly, learn more Croatian. On the Internet I found a Brave Phone project that I loved, because I love working with children, and thought I would be able to express my creativity through this project. I have been working in the Children’s House Borovje for three weeks and am now running summer workshops, and during the school year I will lead the workshop with some co-leaders. I can say that I am now very fond of this voluntary exchange and I think it is worthwhile to go to a foreign country to EVS projects like this one. You don’t have to go for a year like me; it’s possible to go on short-term projects lasting up to two months. Through EVS you can volunteer in all European Union countries and countries which are partners in the project (such as Croatia). What do you have to do? Actually, not much. First you have to find a project that you want to be part of, in the country where you want to volunteer. All projects can be found on the website: https://europa.eu/youth/volunteering/project_en. You might be thinking that this all sounds great, but it’s hard to go somewhere to work for free, and you have to live somewhere and eat while you do it. This is not a problem because the EVS project provides funding for an apartment or room and board, travel expenses and a small allowance. Just as I came to Croatia, so each of you can go other countries (not only in Europe, because there are projects in Africa and South America, etc.), meet new friends, learn the language, be creative and help to implement projects. During your EVS exchange, visit as many camps as possible, where you can learn a lot while also meeting new friends and having fun.”
Since then, we have hosted several more volunteers. We would especially like to draw attention to Audrey from France, who worked with Brave Phone for a year (school year 2014/15).
Audrey has led workshops with children in the Children’s House Borovje and successfully integrated with the local volunteers. When asked what attracted her most about the Brave Phone programme, she said “direct work with children, the large number of local volunteers and doing something meaningful and worthwhile.” She believes that she also improved her professional knowledge thanks to her volunteering, as she is a social educator.
From September 2015 we hosted Judith from Spain, who was with us until the end of summer 2016.
“My name is Judith and I am from Barcelona (Spain). I am a 23 years old psychologist who decided to become in an international volunteer for Children’s House Borovje. While I was on my last year of college I heard about EVS (European Voluntary Service), a program involved in the Erasmus+ project which one helps you to go abroad and have a different experience. In my case, go to Zagreb and volunteer with Hrabri Telefon for a year, living on my own for first time, in a country with a different language and culture, staying away from my family and friends. To summarize: go out of my comfort zone. Nowadays I am on my last month of my project and I feel that it just started. This experience has let me work with kids, gaining experience about how to communicate with them without talking the same language. All what they have taught me and I have learnt w
ith them is extremely value for me, either in personal and professional way. I know I have become in a better person thanks of this experience, people and kids who I worked with, problems I had to deal with, friends I have made and the country I just discovered.“
From September 2016 until August 2017 we hosted Cristina from Spain, a positive, mindful young person who made our project more special. This is what she said while reflecting on her one year journey with us.
“When I look backover the last year I can see how much I’ve learnt and experienced through this EVS project and I cannot be more grateful about it. It gave me the opportunity to improve my skills and grow professionally, working with children and facing linguistic barriers. But it’s not only that, you also get so many knowledge about yourself when you leave your comfort zone.
Brave Phone, and more specific Children’s house (where I was volunteering) has an amazing project focus on children and I’m glad that I have been part of it during my stay in Zagreb. If I have to resume it and get best things about it, I would say thanks to my colleagues, friends and all the people who make it a bit more special, also I keep all I have learnt about Croatia, all places I have visited and the wonderful kids (of course).
I just want to encourage people to volunteer (doesn’t matter where), while you’re helping you’re getting even more than you give, it’s great.”