STORY OF MY LIFE: How is one travelling leading me to another?

I could conclude that travelling by volunteering is my best way to discover and explore both places and people, to collect impressions and to experience moments.

Two years ago I discovered volunteering abroad. I’ve been freshly returned in my home country Bulgaria after a summer job in France. I felt very curious to discover what living in a new land is and I didn’t feel like going back to any of my previous occupations – writing for a media; graphic designing; PR-ing for a theatre; organizing exhibitions; translating for French hunters. All those are very interesting occupations, but I was searching for something completely new as an experience, as an emotion. Then I decided to join a NGO in England, where to live in an international community with between 30 and 50 other volunteers, where we were sharing everything – daily life tasks, activities, costs, lessons, studies and living spaces. The main purpose of that organization was preparing and sending volunteers to development projects in Southern Africa and India. It’s there that I first heard about EVS (European Voluntary Service) and here am I in Kalamata now, 2 years later.

africa day in DublinVolunteering for this organization was an exchange agreement – they assure me a job and instead of money I receive food, accommodation, Development Instructor’s studies (in the frame of the Program “Fighting with the Poor”) and opportunity to take part in different activities in and out of England. I spent there around a year and a half and that lead me for a week in Dublin to make promotion. I spent amazing time during Africa Day, meeting so many different African nationalities, who take part of the Irish community. Then I went twice in Denmark to volunteer for a sister-NGO and experienced meetings, stories and things that I have never done before. Like meeting refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Shri Lanka and Nepal… people who had recently crossed the borders for the sake of their lives.

One ordinary day while I was volunteering in the English promotion office of the organization, an interesting nomad person, born in the Netherlands, but living in Bulgaria, contacted me for more info. We had a nice chat so decided to stay in contact via Facebook.

the volunteering project in CreteThis was a destiny-changing contact, because several months later, I read a post, shared by the same person, describing a volunteering project in Crete, Greece. The shared video was showing a beautiful Earthen-house, constructed entirely by natural materials – clay, shells, recycled tires and bottles. So, I left a comment that I admire such an inspirational project! Later during the day I received an answer by the owner of the project, saying: “There are still places for volunteers. Welcome to join!”

It’s amazing how just a simple Facebook post brought me to one of the best volunteering experiences and travels in my life until then! I invited my best friend to join me and we spent five amazing weeks on the beautiful, extraordinary Crete with lovable weather, gorgeous landscapes and splendid beaches! But when going there, I even couldn’t imagine that this trip will later bring me to another one – which is already the craziest one in my life until now!

Volunteering in NepalThe guy who was running the Cretan project told me about an opportunity to become a volunteer in Nepal, helping in Earth-bag building construction in order for locals to recover from the apocalyptic earthquake from 2 years ago. I even didn’t need 5 min. to realize I want to join such an adventure. While I was Skyping with the NGO, they told me: “In Katmandu water from the tap is poisonous, so never even brush the teeth with it… the air is so polluted, so make sure you are wearing a mask…be careful where and what you eat, because for an European stomach to escape diarrhea in Asia isHoli Festival in Kathmandu impossible, but anyway in the village there is no other option than dal-bat (rice with lentils)…take a water-filter or purifying tablets, because in the village there will be only spring water…and take really warm clothes and a good sleeping bag, because in Nepal there is no heating system, so in February you will be freezing. Are you still sure you wannna come?” … My answer was: “I’m happy that I booked my ticket before this conversation.”

But then it wasn’t at all as scary as it sounds for the ears of a Westerner and I’m even not a proper Westerner, because I’m coming from the Balkans! So in Nepal I experienced a totally differeVolunteer in Nepalnt culture, customs, beliefs, way of living and way of seeing life, that even for one second I couldn’t be bored. During these 2 months in Nepal, in the village, where we were building the Library, I discovered a life without internet, without phone, with rare usage of electricity, with fire cooking, outdoors shower taking, non-stop rice & lentils diet, amazing moments of playing, dancing, singing and drawing with the locals. I joined a Sacred Hindu ritual for Sivataratri and the world-wide famous Holi – the Festival of the Colors. I did a spontaneous trekking through the Himalayas until Annapurna base camp (4130 m.)

I could conclude that travelling by volunteering is my best way to discover and explore both places and people, to collect impressions and to experience moments.

Volunteering in Nepal

 

*** this article has been published in the LiNK Magazine, issue #101, pages 48-51

 

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