We asked the volunteers we work with what the volunteering experience was like for them. Here is what Stefania and Oana shared with us:
“For me volunteering is the way to professional and personal development. I got acquainted with volunteering in 2016, in the first year of highschool. Volunteering hasn’t brought me only experience along the way, but also very good friends with whom I share the same values, interests and desires.
I started with activities inside the highschool, then I became a volunteer for the Foundation of Social Services Bethany. Since the summer of 2020 I had been volunteering for the Successful Youth Association from Iași, and currently I am part of the Management Office of the Iași Bioengineering Students Association as Educational Department Assistant, following that next year I’ll take over the coordinator position inside the same department.
I have to face challenges in each stage, activity or campaign, but I accept them with an open heart because I know I’ll gain experience and this way I learn every day to appreciate myself for who I am and what I can do.”
“I haven’t always felt the desire to volunteer. Before me, my grandparents, my parents and my younger sister have volunteered, in different ways and with different motivations. For a long time, I associated the idea of volunteering with the forced labour the grown ups had to do under communism, which was wrongly called “volunteer work”.
After many years in which I studied a lot, worked even more and fulfiled my desires regarding my career and my living standards, I realised that all these put together haven’t brought me more happiness, not even more peace. I was quite often dissatisfied with the political class, the educational system, the way people are treated by the state authorities, the evolution of society, corruption and so on.
That's how questions about the meaning of life came about. Did the Creator send me to Earth just to have a good career, to read, to go to the movies and on vacation, and possibly to write stormy petitions and go to protest? Only then did I understand that change does not fall from the sky just because I ask for it, I understood that petitions and protests have their purpose, but that it was necessary to actively contribute to the expected change.
The writer Amos Oz had a creed that I really liked and illustrated with a story that, in short, sounds like this: "Imagine a catastrophe, for example an explosion, a fire. People have three types of reactions to such a situation: the first is to run as far as possible to take cover.The second reaction is to organise a protest to demand that the guilty be fired.The third reaction is to bring a bucket of water and throw it over the fire, and if you don't have a bucket, use a glass and if you don't have a glass use a teaspoon If all the people in that area come with teaspoons full of water then the fire could be extinguished". Amos Oz dreamed of establishing a "teaspoon order" that would include all people who bring change through small gestures to the best of their ability.
It wasn't until I started volunteering, 6 years ago, that I realised that life really made sense. I understand how my small contribution gathers with the contributions of others and makes things move. Sometimes I saw the results of our, the volunteers work right away and I felt a joy from another world, other times I understood that the results will be seen in years and years and it was still good, because as my mother says: "it is worth planting trees even if you are not sure that you will see them grow and that you will be able to enjoy their fruits".
There were also times when the joy of volunteering literally anaesthetised physical pain that refused to give in to medication, and that's not magic, there's a scientific explanation for this kind of "therapy." By volunteering, I met absolutely fabulous people (volunteers, NGO employees, beneficiaries), I learned new things, I gained optimism, I evolved in many ways, and most importantly, I began to understand that the future can be better and that things can change for the better if we put our "teaspoons" to work."