Volunteer Story: Joao in Bosnia

Volunteering has always been a big part of who I am. After a brief experience in South Africa a few years ago, I decided that this summer this is what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work with refugees in Europe where help (from what several people tell me) is always needed. […]
Volunteering has always been a big part of who I am. After a brief experience in South Africa a few years ago, I decided that this summer this is what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work with refugees in Europe where help (from what several people tell me) is always needed. So I started doing extensive research on where I could go and what to do. I tried a couple organizations in Greece but they all told me they had enough volunteers for the month of July – which I thought was great but I still wanted to help out.
And that’s when I found indiGO. I had no idea who they were but what I read and learned from the website convinced me to apply. I did apply and received a quick response telling me they needed a lot of help in Bosnia, which for me was completely unexpected as I had no idea the crisis had reached Bosnia in such manner. In less than a week I made all the arrangements and booked my flight to Sarajevo, everything was very fast and sudden.
I suddenly found myself there and everything was super surreal! I came in ready for anything and to do anything and that was exactly what happened. At the House of All shelter I was in charge of Geography lessons, sports activities (mostly football of course) and other random activities. However, I did a bit of everything like eggplant/onion chopping, washing dishes, playing with the babies in the playroom, taking the men for a walk or to get some coffee, etc.
There’s too much I can say about my experience and I’m 100% not the only one who was or will be in this situation and with this motivation. But what I can say is simply that this experience was more than life-changing. I learned so much everyday about the beneficiaries culture, religion and language! To sum it up and from what I told the other volunteers before I left is that there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing their primary concerns shifting from basic instincts of survival and escaping from unthinkable situations to their complaints being about the lack of washing soap, the fact that someone didn’t clean that day or only receiving one roll of toilet paper… I feel like we’re giving them a “taste” of normality that they haven’t had in so long. There’s much more I can tell about my experience but I feel I’d be spoiling it already and that’s something I absolutely think you should see for yourself! indiGO gives you that opportunity and helps you in every way possible all along the journey.

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