My ESC Volunteering in Slovenia – “Compass of Solidarity”
Project “Compass of Solidarity” in Slovenia
My name is Eldin Spahić and I am an active member of the European Solidarity Corps. I found the opportunity to volunteer in Slovenia on the project “Compass of Solidarity” online, on the page “Peacebuilding Network”. The incredible range of community-driven activities that I read about in the advert prompted me to apply. I wanted to test my knowledge empathy by dedicating myself to all these events. Soon after I had applied, Miloš Popić from the organization Svitac (Firefly Bosnia) from Brčko District contacted me. He helped with the application process and later was the person who told me I was the chosen candidate for the project in Slovenia. Prior to this project, I had already completed a “Security and Peace Studies” course at the Faculty of Political Science, the University of Sarajevo and all the activities for this project were related to my experience and what I was researching, so I was overjoyed to get the great opportunity to further develop and improve my skillset. I am very proud to have represented in the best light, myself, and my qualifications as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina as a country and the organisation there.
I arrived in Ljubljana by bus from Sarajevo in mid-September and I officially started the “Compass of Solidarity” project then. I arrived in Ljubljana in the morning and then I travelled for 1 hour by bus to the city of Radovljica, which is about 40 km away from the capital of Slovenia. Henk Persyn from the “Manipur Institute” Begunje in Gorenjska was waiting for me at the bus station in Radovljica. Hank is also the project coordinator in Slovenia, together with Barbara Otoničar. Having them as hosts and mentors means your project will be successful because they are two wonderful people. On the first day, I had to make up for the sleep that I always miss when I travel by bus for long distances, so I only had a meeting in the afternoon and I was presented with the schedule, activities, obligations, rules by my mentors. In addition to daily volunteering, the project also involved research of the host country. Thus, in addition to the capital of Slovenia, I travelled throughout the region, visiting the cities of Tržič, Radovljica, Bled, Kranj, Škofja Loka, Jesenice, Kranjska Gora, and the coastal city of Piran. Additionally, I visited some parts of Italy and Austria with a group of volunteers from other countries, who were also my project colleagues, which gave this project an international dimension and contributed to the quality of the project. In addition to me and Sajma Kapić from Bosnia and Herzegovina, young people from Albania, Georgia, Italy, Ukraine and Slovenia also worked on the project, which opened the space for me to expand my network of acquaintances and get to know new cultures. The activity I enjoyed the most during the project is when we spent time with and helping people in wheelchairs; I have never seen this kind of help, assimilation, and socialization of disabled people before.
The organizations “Sonček” and “GoGo” with which “Zavod Manipura” cooperates, organize trips to mountain lodges involving all-day socializing and walking through nature. For me, this activity was a wonderful experience, and I will never forget these people for the rest of my life. Also, working with animals in the Zoo Park “Rožman” near Ljubljana was a very nice activity, because we worked with endangered animals from all over Europe and host Joža, who is a great man, from whom I learned a lot about animals. It is important to mention “Caritas”, Ljubljana, where we worked on various activities on Fridays. We went from packing leaflets to promote humanity and solidarity to packing donated medicines for the South American state of Venezuela. It is important to mention the village of Leše, which we jokingly used to call the “main village” in Slovenia. The house we lived in was in this village and very soon we all integrated into this beautiful area. At the end of the project, I can only say that Slovenia is a country where people live in harmony with nature and where nature is highly respected and preserved. I have nothing but praise for the hospitality, I’ll always carry this wonderful experience with me and I am very happy to have met many wonderful new people.
I would like to thank Miloš Popić, as well as the organization Svitac (Firefly Bosnia) from Brčko District for the great opportunity. I’d also like to thank “Zavod Manipura” Begunje na Gorenjskem, more precisely to Barbara Otoničar and Henk Persyn. Finally, I would like to thank all of my colleagues and the other organizations who participated in this wonderful project, one I will remember for the rest of my life!