The most important I learned about Volunteering is sharing. Sharing of your experience, knowledge, skills, time and willing. The more you give, the more you have. The act of giving creates a multiplier effect, adding something to the life of those in need but also intrinsically rewarding the giver too, making him or her happier as well.
In this article I will share my experience of volunteering for the European Solidarity Corps in the project “Sustainable Development”, organized by the Greek organization “Solidarity Tracks”. It was an Individual volunteering for 2 months, started from the end of March.
My Volunteering took part at Greek resort Lefkada, which is recognized as one of the most picturesque in the country. The island got its name (Lefkada means “white”) due to the steep white rocks along the West coast. The island is part of the Ionian archipelago, famous for its white beaches and emerald crystal-clear sea waters.
So, I got a chance to see 2 different moods of the area: April with low season, rains and empty streets, and then May, when everything started to come alive, blossom and getting ready for a tourist season.
In special occasion of Easter we created a postcards for the Elderly Care Center of Lefkada. Within the workshops we painted cards with ornaments using colored pencils, paper, paint and other art supplies. In such a way we created something unique and special with a warm touch of our creativity and wonderful Easter spirit. There is a tradition of carrying candles to the church for the Resurrection of Christ, usually candles are with a huge variety of colours and designs. Thus, we decorated candles making a unique self-made artwork and sharing our creativity.
I was a part of the team community Mural Painting at Nydri Primary School. The event was organized by the association Melanydros together with Amaka, Solidarity Tracks and Goodness Tour. We used art as a tool for healing and social support and created a joint Odyssey-themed mural.
Our team visited the traditional annual concert of the Music School of Lefkada. Young musicians presented the work done in the ensemble during the school year, mixing traditional and art, Western and Eastern music through well-known melodies.
I joined the Art exhibition “Dream Points” by Greek visual artist Babis Pilarinos, organized by the Cultural Center of the Municipality of Lefkada. Art works of Babis Pylarinos lead to an invisible, an inward-textured associative landscape. He use a gentle light, which does not blind but caresses the eye, spreads diffused without casting, threatening shadows and reveals hidden aspects of ourselves, dripping with nostalgia. Interior landscapes of our childhood and aromas forgotten by reaped wheat, by half-lit and wet arches, a dance voluptuous of the senses. The painting of Pylarinos, like a warm summer rain, submits the materiality through the incarnation, takes flesh from the dream and transforms it into an image.
I even felt myself more Lefkadian while wearing traditional folk costume of an island. It’s characterized by simplicity, unpretentious and elegant line. The traditional costume consists of a very long pleated dress with long sleeves that is open at the front. The ‘Kotolo’, a thick petty coat is worn underneath. A padded wooden board, the ‘Spaletta’ is still used to support the chest and a long scarf to cover the bare area at the front. The front of the dress used to be decorated by attaching gold chains with ornate pins into the ‘Spaletta’ through the scarf, this also held the scarf in place. The ‘Kefalopani’, a long headscarf, covered the heads. The most beautiful was the wedding gown as usually its made of silk in bright colours.
To understand the customs and traditions of island I visited the Cultural Centre of Lefkada and Folklore Museum of Karia. In Cultural Center I was impressed by collection of traditional dress not only Greek but also other countries and even Ukrainian. Also, I checked the historical center, art gallery, Ex-Libris room and archeological exposition.
I went to the island mountains to visit the Folklore Museum of Karia Village. The Museum honors the creativity and vitality of unique “Karsaniki stitch” embroidery style of Maria Standraka, who made it only with a one hand. I’ve been admired not only of handmade exhibits, but also collection of old objects and furniture which remind a traditional house of mountainous Lefkada.
Activities and involvement
Within the activities of my organization I’ve been involved into local community in order to promote a cultural approach to sustainable development, implementing awareness campaigns to mobilize and convince components of the society of Lefkas for different areas of the challenges.
Within the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, Solidarity Tracks I held an activity “Accessible Sport For Everyone” on one of the central squares of Lefkas. We brought people together giving an opportunity to try different sports exercises just open air. Within the Sport session I wanted to show the positive role sport and physical activity play in communities and in people’s lives. Sport has fundamental rights and a powerful tool to strengthen social ties and promote sustainable development and peace, as well as solidarity and respect for all. To start doing exercises does not require much time, special equipment, amount of money or any additional things.
We launched the Art & Cycle Project “Solidarity Trails: cycling around the Lefkada lagoon”. The event was attended by more than 50 people (locals and international volunteers).The main aim of the event was to promote cycling activity as an alternative way of sustainable development of Lefkada island and as a means of social integration and acceptance of all different social groups.
Within the event we organized an artistic workshop for decorating bicycles with paper, balloons and fabrics. The cycling route around the lagoon (approximately 8 km) passed with the help of the Municipality and the Police of Lefkada.
As my organization provides an on-line educational support for the ESC volunteers, I successfully completed e-learning courses and got a Certification on Social Activism and Social Entrepreneurship, Public Speaking and Leadership, Visual Art, Emotional management and ESC Volunteering. The courses explain how to address real social problems in your community, how to find solutions, it provides skills, the tools and methods to create innovative ideas. Also, you could ask expert database with all the relevant issues. The study was instantaneous, a lot of interactive, useful tips and practical tasks. I definitely recommend it to all. Check more information at e-learning.youtheclub.eu, esc2learn.org, learn2volunteer.com
I’ve been involved into “Time Bank”, a network for exchanging services and knowledge (know-how), supported by the Solidarity Tracks. It forms a mutual exchange of services and knowledge on the scale of a local community. Here you can share your competences and knowledge and offer your time, under the form of services with regard to your skills. You are entitled to receive other services, on a mutual basis, according to your needs and wishes.
We held a dissimination event in Lefkada Cultural center to present the results of the Project “Сlandestine immigration: Awareness & Inclusion through ART” in order to raise the public’s awareness about the danger of clandestine immigration. The main aim of the Project was to develop a new skill in order to support young people from immigrant background or wishing to emigrate in the frame of the human rights values. Through the all Project stages we raised awareness against illegal immigration via theater practices, created tools & innovative methods of education about immigration through art and theater and developed a professional network between Euro Med youth workers.
We organized intercultural workshops on the study of the Greek language and history, Ukrainian culture and traditions in Basque Country, breaking the stereotypes about Spain.
I maintained the social media of my organization. In particular, I wrote a posts on “Green O’Clock” page – Greece online magazine blog about actual events and activities in Lefkada, linked with sustainable development.
Support for Ukraine
Solidarity with Ukraine I felt everywhere: from people, activities and even buildings with Ukrainian flags.
I gathered all concerned people in Lefkada for activity “Art As A Tool For Creative Learning”. I told more about Ukrainian culture, attributes and history of my home city, Kyiv. Together with volunteers from France, Latvia, Tunisia, Italy, Spain, Slovenia we created an art exhibition. In addition, we held creative meetings with three groups of children from Lefkada. Greek kids created posters in order to support Ukrainian children.
I’m grateful to “Solidarity Tracks”, especially Mohamed Chaabouni, Alexia and Ioanna for the opportunity to become a part of the Project, for the hospitable and warm welcoming, support, solidarity and high level of Volunteering.
Don’t wait for a change, make it happen! Just follow your heart, do something noble and beautiful, awake and start live the full life from today.
The article was prepared by Sana Lisova – journalist, researcher, public activist