Jun 30, 2011

“Fools open the doors…the wise men follow them”

                                              “Fools open the doors…the wise men follow them”
                                                                                             In Red on the Cross

It seems like yesterday ... we were all sitting on the terrace of Colinatrume where the idea for MEET was born...we have come a long way: the intense weeks of project design, the stress of the first activities, the despair of knowing the number of participants in each activity were fights that I had the pleasure to follow closely ...yes PLEASURE, as witnessing the victory in each of those fights was very motivating for MEET.

The last activity of MEET (hopefully only this school year…) proved once again the professionalism, dedication and love for the cause that this group of volunteers have for their project. The end of the year dinner took place in Espaco 12, and apart from the usual attendance of the students under mobility programs, to whom this project is dedicated entirely, was also attended by several colleagues from other volunteer projects JCV, as well as our esteemed Coordinator David Rodrigues and the representation of the Academic Association of the University of Minho in the person of my dear colleague Carlos Videira. They could all witness the hard, yet rewarding work, done over the year and realize the relevance of this project in the academic and social context in which we operate.

The night was full of surprises and didn’t lack the world-renowned group dynamics, good conversations and  culture sharing as magical as the activities accustomed to MEET. All this, combined with the typically Portuguese flavors and lively evening that followed at the disco -Sardinha Biba, did not make this last activity the best, because it would devaluate the others, but as perfect as those that took place throughout the year.

What is left is for me, is to congratulate for all this and much more  to the remarkable team of MEET: Alina, the coordinator of the project, Sarah, Birgit, Ivone, Admeier, Élio, Chisoka and of course the coordinator of the mission area, Joao, who were wise enough to follow the crazy window opened that summer night!

Bring on many more windows equal to the MEET!
Kisses and Hugs for all ...
                                                                                            Cristiana Garcia


Jun 21, 2011

Think about the dependencies - Themes Crusaders

Think about the dependencies - Themes Crusaders, is the theme of the I Meeting of the North Regional Branch of the Institute for Drugs and Drug Addiction in which elements of the project + ATTITUDE will be presented, a part of the CVP - Delegation of Braga. This event of reflection and capacities brings together the technicians and leaders of various groups in society in an eclectic approach towards the phenomenon of drug addiction. The spheres of health and society, the economic and international cooperation among others, will be addressed over the dependencies.

The event takes place today and tomorrow, 13th and 14th of June at the Fundação António de Almeida Porto.

Jun 19, 2011

Notes from a European Volunteer: the wish came true!

My name is Susana Oliveira. I am 24 years old, I am a European Volunteer and I’ve been living in Spain (Fromista) for a month now. Time flies here!

I would like to start with telling you about the trip here. 18 hours of travel totally alone! Everything went well. I didn’t miss a single train, miracle! I was proud. When I arrived there were 3 people waiting for me. Ana Maria (my tutor) and two ex-volunteers Ezster (Hungarian) and Louise (French). Impeccable, I couldn’t ask for a better reception! They recognized me because of my bags and the “lost” appearance.

I arrived to Fromista, saw my apartment (“favela” as it is affectionately called) and met the other 3 volunteers who have been here since February...Marga, an Italian who talks a lot, Anthony, a cute French guy and Edo, a calm Serbian. It was love at first sight! That day I dined with them and since then we have been spending time together whenever possible. On my first days my Spanish was ridiculous and we spoke mainly English, however, now with the classes I think I am getting better...I think! At least they understand me! I misuse the words sometimes and we laugh about it, nothing serious.

The building I live in is very old and lacks everything! I have a tv…which doesn’t work. I have two ovens…that don’t work! I have a laundry machine…which doesn’t work because the electric outlet is damaged. The first weeks I was washing my laundry by hand, including sheets! Now it works, because “Alcalde”, the site’s president, himself came to fix the electricity! Comic! Little details that make my house the funniest place in the world! We have a schedule for taking a bath...because there is not enough hot water for everyone. Anyway, it’s a comedy! There are 6 apartments and only mine is inhabited. I was the first volunteer to arrive, therefore I was sleeping alone for the first 2 days. Everyone offered their homes since it is a little scary to sleep here alone (note that there is no light in the hallway and one has to climb two pairs of stairs in the dark), nevertheless, I decided to risk it. 2 days later Lucy came, a very special German girl, who brought me to this project.

In one week the last volunteer came, Valeria, another Italian. What a joy! We sing a lot in the house. We often join other volunteers for dinner, watching movies, etc. Out of these volunteers, there are over 12 that are “spread” across several areas and many other former volunteers who have ended up in Spain. So answering your question about integrating…yes, I feel fully integrated. I was warmly welcomed by volunteers, the people of Frómista and all the people involved in the project work on.
As for work ... well, my original plan was changed due to logistical problems. So at the moment I work in 3 different places. I work at a tourist office two times a week, where among many other things I give information to lots of pilgrims and tourists who pass through Frómista. I also work twice a week with 3 people with mental disabilites. I play with them, help with the daily chores and cleaning (hygiene, etc.), we go to the social center together, etc.

Finally, I work every morning in a social center, the San Cebrian Foundation, an organization that helps people with disabilities.  At this moment, since I studied Clinical Psychology, I am helping monitoring and evaluating two new cases. It’s a very rewarding job. I am a little bit undecided about what I want to do with my life…like all the volunteers! In the future I would love to work in this area…it is truly exciting. Next month I will do other things.

Ah! I have Spanish classes 2 hours a day, every day! It is tiring since we always have a thousand things to do at home. Nevertheless, I still have time to stroll through the beautiful countryside of Frómista and spend time with the other volunteers ...We eat a lot, because we all want to present the typical dishes from our countries. On the weekends we walk and party…there are many volunteers in Spain so we always have a place to sleep.
The best experience…I think the contact with other volunteers, which opens a world of possibilities…The cultural diversity is enormous and the volunteers are very special people with interesting stories. You can learn a lot! The worst experience…no doubt the isolation, distance from family and friends…it’s a good test to see what is really important in our life. Who is thinking about signing up I  just have to say: be strong and do not hesitate! It is also a good opportunity to overcome your fears and learn your limits! It is a very special and enriching experience, indeed!