JANUARY AT SVITAC: a wonderful start to the New Year – volunteer’s blog

Sretna Nova godina (Happy new year)!

As always a new year starts with some reflection on the previous year: and what a year we have had! So many wonderful volunteers and visitors have come and gone, we have seen regular and new Svitac’s children and participants learn and gain so much, and we have enjoyed so many fun, happy, perfect moments that it is impossible to recount them all! (We suggest you read back over some of our old blog posts to see the highlights!)

Unfortunately, like with every year, we also shared some sad moments. Last year ended on the bitter sweet note of saying good bye and wishing good luck to two wonderful Svitac staff members: Slađa and Cat. Slađa was our fantastic daily workshop coordinator for all of 2016, she was a brilliant daily coordinator and translator, a supportive mentor and friend, the children loved her and her kindness and patience are hugely missed. We wish her all the best with this coming year moving onto pastures new. We also greatly miss Cat’s amazing energy and presence that she brought to the centre over the last 3 months, she made a lasting impact with her thoughtful contributions, work and training in special educational needs and sign language. We wish her a wonderful coming year doing great work in the UK.

Despite the sadness of saying good bye to great people, this new year has brought the great pleasure of new faces to our Svitac team. At the end of December, the lovely Milica took over the role of daily workshop coordinator. We were also joined in December by Taha and Junus, both from Turkey, and volunteering with us for 6 months. This month we have also been happy to welcome two more volunteers: Bonnie from Australia, with us for 2 months and Eduardo from Argentina, with us for 1 month. All of them have slotted into life at Svitac flawlessly, bringing fresh and exciting ideas and energy to the team. We are really looking forward to working with them and getting to know them all better over the coming year.

In fact because we currently have such an internationally wide spread and culturally diverse team, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to run a series of culture themed lessons at the centre! So this month we have been teaching the children about some of the different cultures and ways of life that our volunteers experience back in their home countries. So far we have had a themed day about Scottish traditions, specifically focusing on Burns night (25th January). We also held a themed day about life in Australia on Australia Day (26th January). Both of these themed days included creative activities, as well as educational elements such as: small facts about the countries, typical foods, language and dialect, traditions, history, etc.

The children really enjoy learning about different cultures and traditions from across the world and we will be continuing these themed lessons covering the following countries that are represented by volunteers at the centre: Algeria, Argentina, England, France, Germany and Turkey. Eduardo will also be running some Spanish language lessons for the 8+ years age group class. This will be a new and exciting opportunity for that age group as currently Svitac only offers foreign language workshops in English and German.

This month Svitac has also began offering two new evening workshops for teenagers and adults aged 16years+. If you or anyone you know wish to learn a new and interesting language with native speakers then our Turkish Language workshops might be perfect for you! Ran by our two brilliant volunteers from Turkey: Taha and Yunus, every Tuesday evening, 18:00 – 19:00, at the centre. Also if you have made any new years resolutions to exercise more or just wish to get fit, then our brand new Fitness workshops are the classes for you! Lead by Alex, Ben and Bonnie every Tuesday and Thursday from 16:00 – 17:30, in the dancing room at the centre.

Another exciting project that has taken place this month was the open call for portraiture artworks to be sent off to a UK exhibition. Our Arts Coordinator (Eleonore Pearson) arranged for Svitac participants to be part of a large scale portraiture exhibition with the art gallery that she used to work for in the UK. The gallery is called Solent Showcase Gallery and is based in Southampton, England. The exhibition they are showcasing is called “Small Faces”, and will feature 5000 miniature (A6 sized) portraits made by artists, children, and people from across the world. Many of our children from the 3-7 years and 8+years age groups created and contributed some artworks to this exhibition. As did all the participants from our evening adult art class (which is held by Eleonore every Tuesday evening, 19:00 – 20:30, at the centre). ‘Small Faces’ exhibition will be open to public 3 March – 21 April 2017, in Southampton, so we will be doing another blog post at a later date giving more information about the exhibition and the artwork on show. So stay tuned and keep your eyes open for that post!

The final big news that we have for this January is that we have launched two fundraising campaigns! Our two campaigns have been launched with the aim to raise money for two of our annual events: Summer Camps and Future Shorts Film Festivals. We just want to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported our cause so far, your contributions are helping us to continue to run these great events! For more information or if you would like to donate to our campaigns please visit our omprakash page (links below).

https://www.omprakash.org/global/omladinskaorganizacijasvitac/crowdfund/svitacs2017futureshortsfilmfestivals
https://www.omprakash.org/global/omladinskaorganizacijasvitac/crowdfund/august2017summercamps

Alternatively you can donate through Firefly’s Just giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/fireflyinternational/svitacsummercamps

As a final signing off we would just like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped make 2016 a special year for Svitac in some way – you know who you are! We also want to thank those who continue to support and help us in 2017, and welcome those new faces that are joining our journey throughout the year. We’re looking forward to sharing another great year of activities, fun and stories with you, and we hope you are too!

Do remember to follow us on Facebook (Omladinska Organizacija Svitac), Twitter (Svitac_BiH) and Instagram (svitacbrcko) for more regular updates!

Eleonore Pearson, Svitac EVS volunteer

 

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