I am 20 years old Lithuanian guy who decided to volunteer in a small Latvian village called Vaiņode. Yes, I know, many people are saying - why would you go to volunteer in a place which is just 7km from your home country?! But I have a reason for that.
Firstly I am really interested in my homeland, in the Baltic land. And I want to get to know better what culture, what history, what traditions and what songs are coming from this land. But the most important probably the language, so my reason was to get to know better my own blood. Therefore Vaiņode is very interesting and special place which has one of the best water in Europe! It also has an important economical and political history with my home country because of the railway Klaipėda - Skodas - Priekule - Vaiņode- Mažeikiai - Jelgava - Rīga. Unfortunately the railway was closed and it is still closed until this day because of some not very nice reasons. But what has been nice? For sure it is my volunteering time.
In Vaiņode school, where I was volunteering, I met a lot of super nice and active youth. In January, February and March I was trying to make so much fun for them, we made events like talent show or Novus game tournament. Every day on breaks we played some board games or draw, everyday on the second longest break we implemented some just dance time or different dances. Besides that, once I organised for four students a trip to my home town to show them the theatre play. As well I organised Theatre group after lessons, which was incredible and amazing. Sometimes even 50-60 students came to join the theatre.
Later world crises came with one unknown virus and everything had to be closed. So firstly, when everything closed, I went to panic. I didn’t knew what to do, I ran away to the Latgale with some friends and stayed in a forest untill the situation would get better. After some time it did get better. and I came back. One of the first things I did -we played some online video games with students. After that I met students individually to have a walk, explore the nature. We also started bicycle rides - especially in the abounded airfield which was just perfect. Then the restrictions softened and we started to meet every evening with students in school’s stadium - we played basketball, volleyball, other games, again rode bicycles. As the school time had finished, we now had place where to organise something. I tried communicating to many people in Vaiņode and thankfully after one month finally we got the key of a house that we called Youth House. Many new activities were realised there - board games, talking, watching film, also outside activities! Finally August came and the last month of my project started. Of course- on this month there was a lot of pressure, we had to finish everything what we couldn’t finish in quarantine time - the Escape Room. We worked a lot on it. I mostly worked on the practical work: cutting boards, implementing the holders for lockers on the wall, arranging boxes. We brought a lot of stuff to the room, a big thanks as well to some volunteers from Liepāja who managed to come and help us! So when the room was finished we started to invite people, arranged some groups etc.
In general I loved Vaiņode, volunteering with youth here too. But I have to admit that I really felt a bit left alone - it was only me and the other volunteer Agata who organised everything. That was a bit sad and hard, would be good to have some people at least to talk with. But in general I am happy that I spent time here. It was hard, but enjoyable!
Strategic EVS project “Corners of Europe” is financed by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union that in Latvia is administrated by Agency for International Programs for Youth.
This publication reflects only the viewpoint of the author.