My experience volunteering in Panatau Romania

11.11.2015

My experience as an EVS (European Voluntary Services) volunteer in AMURTEL Romania began in April this year. I left Portugal with a lot of enthusiasm because I really identified with the project “Whispering to wild horses” which has as main goal to help children through a holistic education. I thought that I could learn more about yoga, meditation and vegetarian lifestyle, so in my luggage I brought with me many projects, dreams and ambitions that were changing with the passage of this experience.

Upon arriving to Bucharest for the first time I came across with my first challenge in Romania, taking a taxi. Fortunately, Didi, the coordinator of the project had warned me previously and given indications about what procedures should I take. I arrived around 5 am to the house where other volunteers (Nuno and Giorgia) lived in Bucharest. I was very well received by Giorgia who was kind of sleepy but with a smile on her face opened the door of her house as if she knew me already.

The next day I went to Panatau, the location of my project. The coordinator of the project drove me there and my new adventure in rural Romania began. That day I had the opportunity to know more details of the project and about the work I have to do there, I met Amurtel Family, the other EVS volunteers, Jone, Luca, Antonio and Emanuele and my new home.

The first week I was in Poieni, on the organic farm of the Association (Amurtel Organic Garden), along with the other volunteers we prepared various activities for the children related to the nature in order to create greater environmental awareness for them. I also had the opportunity to work in the kindergarten in Bucharest on the day of Festivalul Pamantului (The Earth Festival) where I had the joy of being a fairy for a day.

My volunteer work is mainly in Fountain of Hope. For me this Center is an important place because it makes the difference in this rural environment; they provide a hot and tasty vegetarian meal and the opportunity to do extracurricular activities in an intercultural environment for the children who attend the Panatau school, usually children between the ages of 6 and 14 years old.

My volunteer work consists mainly in helping to serve the meals and prepare extracurricular activities for children. I must point out that some of my favorite activities were during the month of May, the intercultural month. In these four weeks we’ve shown a little bit of our countries to the children: the Basque country, Portugal and Italy; through non-formal education we’ve taught some words from our languages, a little bit of geography and culture, we’ve elaborated traditional games, craft activities and typical recipes for each country.

bruna coaseDuring the summer, along with the other volunteers we did various activities: we helped in the organic farm, we did a mosaic, we did some artistic paintings in the cultural building of the village, we created Romanian cinema sessions for children and adults, we promoted the European Voluntary Service, we did a children’s festival, among other projects. The Summer project I would like to highlight was Festivalul Copiilor (The Children’s Fest). It was very enriching to work with other Romanian volunteers, it was more easier to communicate with children due to the language barrier. These volunteers, Anca, Valentin and Cranta, they brought new ideas, all the materials for the activities and lots of positive energy. It was very inspiring and they gave me a new energy.

My volunteer work also extends to Familia AMURTEL (the AMURTEL Family) where I help in what is necessary to do in the daily life. I had the opportunity to help to prepare the food for winter, for example Zacuscă, jam and eggplant salad. Being with the AMURTEL family is a lot of fun, I do not consider to be volunteering work because I see them more as a new family. I felt more integrated with them when we did the “Outward Bound” camp, in which during 4 days we had to live together, and we did various activities such as cycling, canoeing and camping. These days had provided me a greater connection with each one of them and allowed me to know better their personalities, goals and dreams. Another one of my favorite moments with the AMURTEL family was when me and the other volunteers, Jone and Luca, have organized a picnic near the river in Panatau.  It was a lot of fun and we had the opportunity to socialize in a different environment.

Travelling all over the country was one of the best experiences I had in Romania. I had the opportunity to experience the culture, the traditions and the diversity that this beautiful country has, I feel like I’ve  learned a lot in this short period of time.

My integration was easy and fast mainly because of the help of other volunteers who always supported me and guided me throughout my journey here in Romania. Right now I’ve only got two months of volunteering left and I feel more comfortable and welcomed by the community of Panatau. I am fortunate to have an excellent mentor and to have good neighbors, who bring me gifts such as fruits of their garden or Placinta cu mere (apple cake). I feel very grateful for this amazing experience and the truth is that despite all the difficulties of living in a small village and the place where I am staying is not the best; right now I don’t want to go back to Portugal I would like to stay longer in this wonderful community.

I would like to thank AMURTEL for this amazing opportunity and to all the volunteers who were part of my journey here in Romania. Thank you all for everything.