Encounters through volunteering

by Kristina Zimaj (Montenegro)

The last thing I expected Albania


Travelling, meeting new people, exploring and volunteering has been always my passion. For me these mean learning, growing and living. As a member of charity association Vincentian Marian Youth, I went to a two-week-long project, Service Camp, in Shkodra, Albania on July 2016. The purpose of the camp was to serve different groups of people in need. I served one week at center of mentally disabled people. It is interesting when you find your self helping people that you never met before, and most probably you will not meet again. A rhetorical question arises - what makes one do that? It is because the spirit of the camp was like that and it inspires you - helping others without any interest and doing so with modesty. And the best thing is when you see dozen of youth and teenagers were doing so with full of enthusiasm, it triggers you even more. It was so interesting for me to work with people with mental disorder and hear their life stories. I heard words that expressed remorse for their acts, regret, compassion, and above all - a huge loneliness. They were people who, either did not have any relative, or have some that rarely visit them. I have never though that someone can suffer from loneliness - NEVER. I have never though that someone would say: "this was the most cheerful week" just because we went there and spent time with them playing cards, doing crafts, or draw an amateur portrait of some of them. After such an experience, what a youth like me can think is starting to be thankful for some things that I never thought before - my beloved ones. Once upon a time, I used to think that we all have what we deserve to have, but life made me to realize that this is not always the case. Unfortunately, there are many cases where people miss the beloved ones or miss even the basic needs. Inequality seems to be the biggest challenge to overcome. All I know is that we all have different mission to accomplish. As a Kosovo passport holder, I can not move freely in Europe due to visa restriction. However, I have overcome this challenge many times due to my desire for travelling. I go in Europe and I meet youth who have full of opportunities, and we here in Western Balkans face unfair obstacles to reach our dreams. Here I find another inequality. That conversation I had in psychiatry of Shkodra, made me think to think very deeply for this issue. It made me more empathic person and open minded.