Personal testimony – ESC individual volunteering

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Our long-term volunteer Karolina from Poland was part of the Green Fingers project on individual volunteering during the whole of 2021. In addition to helping our Green Fingers team with project implementation, she also participated in activities with short-term volunteering teams. Besides working in the school gardens, she organized and conducted her personal project for the autumn group Green Fingers. We are happy that she was part of our team.

My story with Croatia has started 7 years ago. I was hitchhiking from Katowice to Vienna and in one truck I heard „narodnjak” – Croatian traditional music. I started to cry so much, that the Croatian driver didn’t know how to make me stop and he just said – „ok, maybe you should go to Croatia one day? It seems that you like our music, maybe in your previous life you were somehow connected with Croatia?” In my life, I try to follow my intuition and advices from the Universe, so I went to Croatia the next month without any hesitation.


And…I fell in love with this country. I was studying here, I was volunteering, I was travelling… Half of my life and heart I used to have in Poland, the second one – in Croatia. Last year was hard for me. I had a job which I didn’t like, I was unhappy and disappointed. I was trying to find happiness, but I couldn’t. One day I have just packed my things and I came to Croatia. Before I found OAZA, or maybe – before OAZA found me, I had many troubles in Croatia. Luckily, as wise people say – some storms are coming to clear our path, and on the day when I first came to OAZA’s office, I knew everything is gonna be ok.

I was volunteering in OAZA from March to December 2021. As a long-term volunteer, I was helping my supervisor – Jasmina, with office work and with – what was the most important for me – recruiting short-term volunteers. We were using different channels, so I could learn a lot. Two groups of short-term ESC volunteers came to Zagreb – they were amazing. We had a lot of fun together having workshops in schools (which includes singing and dancing with the kids), planting flowers, fruits and vegetables, taking care of school gardens and so on. Especially two girls, one from the first – spring – group, and the second one from the autumn group, became my close friends. When the first of them, Patrycja from Poland, was leaving Croatia, we were both crying and promising each other that we will stay in touch forever – after almost a year, we still talk every day 🙂 The second special person, Rebeca from Spain, became my younger sister. Since the very first day, we had a special connection and I believe that this bond will survive everything. I need to say something also about trainings, organised by Croatian National Agency – they were amazing! I met so many wonderful people, who helped me to understand my way and showed me new opportunities for the future. ESC in Croatia has changed me a lot as a person – I have finally grown up, I started to perceive myself from a different perspective. I became more self-aware and responsible and I know now what I REALLY want from life. Maybe it sounds naive because I am already 30 years old, I graduated from University and since many years I was living on my own, but…in my heart, I was still an immature, grumpy kid. The project in OAZA made me realise that I am the master of my own life and dreams and I started to travel again. Not only in the Balkans, I also went to Azerbaijan for a week. Patrycja, Jasmina, Mile, Subala, Filip, and Branko – they are my family now and I hope that soon we will see each other again.


Author: Karolina Żądełek

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Udruga O.A.ZA
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