Hi, my name is Andrea Annamária Duka. I am from Budapest, Hungary. In my life, volunteering is really important. I started to volunteer 15 years ago. In early years I was involved in projects and organizations related to children’s rights. I am still in contact with some of these including the Hungarian Antipoverty Network and Uccu foundation because these organizations work with methods and concepts I really believe in. I like to be a volunteer because I like to help others, to think about solutions, and I feel really happy when I can support other people to take an opportunity. I have received a lot of help from everyone and I know what it means when you get something, therefore I also want to give something back.
After my last exam at university I came to Berlin to do my European Voluntary Service in Amaro Drom e.V. Amaro Drom is a youth self-organization of young Roma and non-Roma which aims to give young people space to engage as volunteers through empowerment, mobilization, self-organization, and participation to become active citizens. As volunteers we get the opportunity to engage in the different spheres of the organization. In the beginning I worked in our children’s programme with Roma and non-Roma children from Eastern Europe. There are only boys in the programme, and they are very active and are really talented children. I worked every afternoon with the children; every day we had a program in a different place. We had program in a music school, sports hall, library, and kindergarten. All of them learned to play drums, and they are really cool, they really play perfectly. I organized with them my own project about Camera Obscura. We prepared the cameras with the children, and took pictures afterwards in the street. After three months I had my first EVS seminar. That was the time when I started to open myself to others.
At the beginning I was very closed, because everything was new and my language skills were really bad. But after the EVS seminar everything changed in my EVS. My hosting organisation was and is still really flexible with me, because they recognised my hyperactive personality. So I could become active and I did a lot of colourful things. For example I went to Otterstadt with another volunteer, Attila Lakatos, to a work camp where Hungarian boys helped to build a community building and a playground. We were there translators and participated in the construction. This was the first successful moment, finally my organisation believed in me, and they gave me an opportunity to challenge my language skills. After I was in Hamburg at Kirchentag – the protestant church day, a very big event with a fair with a lot of organizations. This was very different, we introduced our organisation and I took pictures of people with posters making a statement against antigypsyism. These events were the beginning, when I could start to open myself and show who I am. For me, it was important to open a connection to my personality even without good language skills.
During my EVS I got to know the office and I spend a time there. This helped me to understand where I am working, because our organisation works on lot of topics. We organize a lot of seminars, conferences and workshops on local, national and international level, we have a local youth group, and we support migrants from Romania and Bulgaria in the social contact point. Amaro Drom and Amaro Foro are elaborate, and I think that one year there is not enough if you want to know everything about the organisation. During my year I have worked in a lot of different areas: I designed flyers for different events, I worked in the children’s program, the youth group, I helped in the Hederlezi Roma street and culture festival 2013, I participated in a lot of seminars, I created photo documentations about several events, I realized my own Camera Obscura project, and a lot of other things.
What have I learned in addition? I am more creative, and more intuitive than before because of the languages I learned. I also learned that it is very important to ask questions – you have to ask everything if you want to do a good job. For me this was an opportunity which I can use. Before my EVS I had a lot of experience with national volunteering, and now also on an international level. I learned a lot about other cultures, other religions, and about the social situations of people, which is really useful for me. I think this experience will be very helpful for me also in other situations in the future.
In my life, volunteering is really important. I started to volunteer 15 years ago. I like to be a volunteer because I like to help others, to think about solutions, and I feel really happy when I can support other people to take an opportunity. I have received a lot of help from everyone and I know what it means when you get something, therefore I also want to give something back.
Here is a VIDEO Andi made about here voluntary service.
Many people ask me why I chose EVS. Having higher education and knowledge of different field areas, having some work experience already – why work voluntarily?! When you have a lot of knowledge and experience – why not share it with other people who have the desire to learn?! A lot of people are not aware of the EVS program and the opportunities you get through it: to meet people from other countries, because we are here and all get in touch with new cultures, meet new people, learn new languages , have fun, travel and engage for something useful. EVS is an experience you can have only once in life.
I chose to volunteer for one year because it is a good opportunity for all young people who do not know what they really want to do in life. This is a really good opportunity to decide what field you want to work in. If you want to learn and if you want to make your own plans in life this is the best program you can choose.
My job as a volunteer was to work with preschool children. It was a big surprise for me, because I have finished pedagogical university majoring in preschool education, for me it was like preparing for my profession as a preschool educator. I learned many new methods of working with children and I will use them in the future. I also worked with young people in different activities, and it was a pleasure to work and spend time with them. In fall I got involved in writing a new project for the organization, as well as assisting in the realization of projects and completing administrative work in the organization. The EVS program includes two training organized by the National Agency. One seminar was in Witzenhausen, the second seminar was in Bremen. We got to know a lot of other EVS volunteers from different countries who were in Germany and it is a great experience that you will remember your whole life.
I personally think that volunteering is very important for young people, because by doing so we build ourselves, gain self-confidence, ambition, socialize, learn new things and it is often the case that in new and different situations you begin to know what you really want to do in life. The experience to meet people from different cultures is wonderful and also educational and you get in touch with other ways of life, other types of thinking, other customs.
The EVS was also important to me because I have gained some knowledge that might be helpful to me in future employmentsuch as experience working with children as mentioned before, to speak the German language, I gained new experiences with organizing different types of events like conferences, workshops etc. So for young people who want to engage for something useful and get international experiences I recommend to apply for an EVS project in the area in which you wish to gain experience. You will have fun, meet a lot of people and at the same time gain experience which you can then use for future employment. As evidence of this experience you will get “Youth Pass” after your EVS, a certificate for non-formal education which describes all the “stuff ” that you have learned .
I volunteer because I feel good when I do something without a profit, something that society and young people benefit from, and with this you can change the future.