Jun 30, 2015

Ponto Vermelho

Ponto vermelho (Red Dot) - Clothes, toys and other materials store, selling the items at lower prices to people with lower incomes and donating them to those families in extreme difficulties.

Another official text, that is just full of words, but it does not have a soul, and I cannot leave it like this.

First of all, Ponto Vermelho is a social shop. All the people working there are volunteers who want to give their time and effort to community. They welcome everyone with a huge smile on their faces and with open hands. It’s not just another shop where all the workers want you to spend more and leave faster; here you can even have an espresso while shopping around.

For me Ponto Vermelho is both hell and heaven at the same time. And I am going to explain why. It is heaven, because I am the first one to see all the donations and, of course, if I find anything that I want I can buy it before it makes to the shop. The hell part comes when the “Carrinha” (Mini Bus) comes with all the donations and you think that it’s impossible to check everything in one day. You kind of drown yourself in that pile of bags, boxes and other stuff. However, the feeling then you open the last bag, is impossible to explain in words. It seems like you made it, you climbed the Everest, and now nothing is impossible for you!

While working in Ponto Vermelho you can learn how to know the size of the clothes just by one glimpse of the eye. You can learn how to fold anything just using your hands and body in a second and not needing to put it on the table. And, of course, now I know the main sizes of babies, girls and boys, and women and men.

But let’s start from the beginning. Ponto Vermelho in Braga has three different rooms or as we call different stages. Firstly, all the clothes get to “Triagem” – choosing place. Where the work, I think, is the hardest. All the clothes have to be carefully checked, if they are good to go to the shelves or need to be put to trash. The next time I will want to donate something I will think more carefully, because the clothes that are being checked sometimes have huge holes, or big stains of paint, that for sure cannot be washed, or even huge sweat stains that makes the checking process even more unattractive. I think sometimes, when we donate clothes, we don’t think about the part that someone else will have to wear it, we just think that by donating we are doing a good deed and that's it. But we should think of the reasons why we want to get rid of some clothes, is it because we bought new ones and we don’t like them anymore or because they are not wearable? Sometimes, I really cannot understand people who donate just for the fact of donating and when you open the bag, you can’t do anything else just to through it out, because nothing inside is wearable no more.

Second stage or room is “Armazém” – storage room. After Triagem all the clothes that are already in the shelves are being checked again and then go to the Armazém now according to the sizes. This is why now I know all the main sizes not only for men or women, but also for children. Sometimes it is really funny, cause half of the labels are cut and you can either pick other thing with a label and size them both together to know what is the size, or after some time you just start using your body as a metric object and size t-shirts, sweaters and blouses according to your shoulder size. Or pants by your hips size and it works for both men and women. This is also a very good place to learn how all the clothes are called in Portuguese. Before moving clothes from Triagem, you need to do an inventory and write the quantities of all the things that you move.


 The last, but not the least place is Loja - the shop. All the double selected things from Armazém finally go to the shop. As they are already put in the sizes not only distinguished by pants, t-shirts or sweaters, but also by the size it is very easy to go and search for something, if a person wants more examples. The main work in the shop is obvious – making costumers happy. What is more, it needs to be arranged from time to time. The clothes need to be changed, to show what we have more, because it is impossible to fit all the things from the Armazém. Also ideas can be given how to improve the display, to make it more attractive or more visible. I love this part the most and from time to time I allow my imagination run wild.

All in all, Ponto is a place, there you can learn a lot. Not only how to fold clothes, but also how to arrange them efficiently. You can improve your Portuguese vocabulary with all the possible words for clothes, toys and things for the house. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see how things work from the other side and change your opinion about what should be donated.

Ponto Vermelho is more than a shop; Ponto Vermelho is a second chance for things that are still good! 

Jun 25, 2015

What is EVS?

So let’s start from the beginning. What is EVS? Ok, I think everybody interested in it already knows at least the meaning of the letters – European Voluntary Service. But what does it really mean?

Few months ago we had lots of interviews with the candidates for the next EVS project, that we have written and I hear a lot of answers, what EVS is in their understanding.

Helping others… Sharing… Contributing… Youth mobility… Thing from a bucket list… Charity organizations… Giving… Creating… New experience… Good opportunity to improve social skills… New people… New cultures… Contacting different countries… Knowing each other…

So I decided to think what EVS is for me. I am already living it for more than half of a year, and I can say for sure that my opinion has changed. Of course, not totally, but now I have more perspectives.

Firstly, my answer was more like the others. EVS is changing cultures, learning new stuff, getting out of your comfort zone and everything else that is like a myth and untouchable.

Now as I am already living it, I can say, that EVS is an opportunity for improvement. It starts with the learning of how to live with other people. You have to get used to not only living in another country, but also with living with other people. They are also from different countries; they have different understanding about how to deal with even the easiest things in the house (that you never thought that it could be different than you did your whole life). Some things will make you go crazy, some will be actually really helpful, but the main point is to widen your perspective and be open for the changes.

Another thing about EVS is a great opportunity for trying yourself. Not only trying yourself if you can live on your own, or if you can manage to survive with just a certain amount of money. It’s more about trying yourself in different working areas. I think it is easier for younger people, because they are just after school or university with not a clue of what they want to do in life next, so it’s a great opportunity to try a lot of things and find out there you fit best. The important thing is not to be afraid to fail, and realize that you are not good in one or other job, after trying it, but at least you tried and then you can try in different area and maybe you will be the greatest. We don’t know our real talents until we try new things. EVS is the best place to try yourself, so use this opportunity as much as you can.

Of course, it is a great place to develop your language skills and you will realize that words are not that important actually. In the beginning, when you don’t know the language, you learn how to communicate without it. You will use hands, gestures even crazy sounds and you will make it. Later you will even notice that sometimes you understand people when they speak even a language that you never knew before, because you will take more notice to their body language than to the words that come from their mouth.

And finally, EVS is a life changing opportunity, but everything depends on you and how much you want to change. It’s not about changing who you are it’s more about changing how you see the world. Like any international experience it allows you to better understand the world, how we are all different and how we can have different opinions and still manage to work for the same goal.

We are people, we make mistakes, we make wrong assumptions about people, about other countries, about how we should work and EVS is the best place to start seeing everything globally and looking out of the frame that society have put you in!  


Jun 24, 2015

RoadTrip #1

It all started with a wonderful Red Cross vehicle stopping at our doorstep. Like a small kid, I was lurking next to the window, and by the time my eye glimpsed at the red cross sign on the side of the car, I ran through the house to tell the others that our journey  is about to start.

Sun was shining in the sky, predicting a bright day. Big smiles decorated our still sleepy faces and we were off for an adventure!

The car was full of amazing young adventure seekers. João – our driver and the coordinator of the trip, Cintia – history master and our always helping hand, also coordinator of the trip #2, Anna and Kim – our wonderful German couple doing EVS in the Red cross together with me, and meLithuanian girl, who is normally not in Braga on the weekend. 

First stop was in an amazing village called Ponto de Lima. The village is called after the river Lima and the Roman style bridge going through the river. The village is really beautiful and has lots of stories to tell about the past of Portugal. It was really great that we had a history teacher with us – Cintia, who could tell us all the stories.

After quick walk around the village of course we needed to stop for our first cup of coffee. Well, when you live in Portugal, you have to get used to some strange rituals...

After refilling the batteries, we went for another quick walk in the tiny streets of Ponto de Lima. With a pit stop in, as I call it “woman heaven shop”, to buy a Portuguese style tablecloth, we finally reached the biggest attraction. Apparently, there is a festival with cows running around but not Pamplona style, but some kind of festival, and of course in the middle of the village there is a huge sculpture of a bull. Anna, our fabulous German girl for sure had to try it, so even with a skirt she managed to show us, that if you really want something – there is nothing that could stop you!

Next stop was a strange place for Portugal – Lagoa – as if I would call it “Lake Paradise”. Our stomachs were already singing the songs of hungriness so we took all the food from the car and went for the hunting of the picnic place. And we really found a hunting place... O.K., it was not a hunting place, it was more like a birds’ watching tower, but nobody can tell me what I can imagine, so in my head we went in the hunting tower.

The space inside was as big as a tree house, with a hole in the middle to get in and around going table-chair or however you can call or use that thing. So all of us climbed there and as we were 5, we didn't even have a corner for everyone. So as a friendly group, we managed to sit on the floor or on top around the table. Finally, everyone had place and we started our picnic. The part of “how will I manage to get out of my sitting position” was left for later.

All full of all the goodies we brought with us, we decided that is right about time to walk around and explore the lakes’ park. It was so amazing, walking on small bridges in a tunnel of water surrounded by trees. Probably this place looks even better in the summer when all the trees are making a natural leaves tunnel and blossoming with rainbow colors.

After a delightful walk in the natures’ fairytale we continued our trip. Next stop was Viana do Castelo. Our History Master No.2 João told as a myth about the name of the city, which was not that much approved of the real history master, but for us it was good enough.

Once there was a small city on the coast line of Portugal with a big harbor on the side. As all the small coast villages this one also had a castle. And in that castle lived a girl mane Ana (nice coincidence with our Anna). Every time a ship was passing the castle to get to the harbor they would see her in the window and would say to each other «Vi Ana do Castelo».

First stop in Viana do Castelo, was marvelous church on the top of the hill. As real tourists, we decided to climb till the top to see the best view provided. First step was elevator. Then we had some stairs going around the elevator. Next part, was a staircase for tiny people, as I was walking with my head down and almost touching walls with my shoulders. That staircase was for sure not for claustrophobic people, so good that none of us were. The last part, was in the round dome of the church roof, so the stairs were really steep, and of course turning around in small circles, so no wonder why a person like me, who has vertigo got a panic attack.

I was walking those stairs, just looked at the walls of the dome and they started spinning, so I tried to walk faster as my legs started shivering and my heart beat rose that I could hear the beat in my ears and I was still stuck in the middle of staircase. I made my best and managed not to faint, but the second I reached the top I hugged one of the columns till I got my breath back.

The view was stunning and it was worth the panic attack. We could see the ocean and the waves crashing on the shore. The mountains standing like guardians all around the region. Tiny city bellow us, with people and cars going their way not even noticing that someone s following their moves just for a slight moment. We felt like kings of the world, so of course we took some selfies and tried to manage reach the ground in one peace.

Luckily, no panic attacks followed our trip anymore and we safely reached the city center. Another short walk in the cozy little streets and we reached the main attraction of the town Bolas de Berlim. One of the pastry pieces I have ate, and there was even no left to buy for our friends who could not make the trip, so that made us feel extra lucky and happy.

Last but not the least was the beach. Wind was really strong, as it always is in the North of Portugal and especially in the beach, but we managed to find a nice shelter in the dunes. The sun was warming our cheeks, despite the fact, that it was late afternoon sun. It took me back to the days, when I would go to the sea side with my friends. A perfect moment of a perfect day!

Full of sand in not only in the shoes we took our things and went for a last part of the trip – going home. All tired and full of good emotions we reached Braga and decided to finish our wonderful trip with the leftover dinner!

Sometimes you realize that for life to be great you don’t need so many things: just a good company, a little bit of good weather and desire for adventures!


Jun 23, 2015

Geração Tecla

Geração Tecla is a project providing everyday school support classes for the neighborhood children, including the Roma Community ones, as well as free time and holiday activities. The main goal is to promote social inclusion through the development of professional competences and digital literacy, inclusion in the job market, school integration, promotion of a dynamic community and citizenship of the children and youngsters from Santa Tecla’s neighborhood.
The official description of the project sounds like this, but I think it needs a little bit easier one, or maybe just said in the more simple way.

In the picture below you can see main activities that are held in Geração Tecla. These activities are concentrated on the kids, but as you see in the description above, they also include other age groups.

For me, Geração Tecla is the place where I spend most time with the kids. Where I learned how to talk without using words, because sometimes even knowing the language it’s not enough, kids also have their own language that sometimes can be different version of Portuguese that you know.

Place, where I can improve my craft skills, trying to think of a different activity for every week that kids would be interested to do; that would take not more than an hour; that would be hard and easy at the same time; that the final result would be visible the same day and that it would not brake on the way home.

Place, where I can try doing some sports with kids. Like being a football coach. It’s not a problem if you have played basketball your whole life or is it? Trying to make a relay and explaining everything in Portuguese even not trusting my language skills that much. Trying to play some games with them outside and finding out, that they are all the same in all the countries.

Going to schools and remembering how it is good to be a kid. Remembering the ways you were jumping the rope and learning other new fun ways. Also trying to bring the games from your past and seeing that they still work after almost 20 years.

All in all, Geração Tecla is a one big playground where you can improve yourself as a grown up and still behave as a kid!

Jun 22, 2015


Welcome to the new and fresh BLOG of Juventude!

My name is Giedrė and I am an EVS volunteer in Juventude Cruz Vermelha Portugesa. From now on till the end of my voluntary service (or maybe longer) I am going to try to take care of this blog.

Firstly, with the New Year we want to bring some new changes!

The blog is going to have three different columns to separate different things and different prospects of Juventude.
  • v  Juventude in action – everything related to all the work Juventude does; all the projects we managed to participate in and all the actions it carries.
  • v  EVS corner – everything related to EVS; our experiences and other useful information.
  • v  Juventude after action – everything we do in the free time, to bring more colors to our lives.
  • Hope you will enjoy it and let’s go read some blogs!

Juventude after action

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…

Of course no one in Juventude wants to be boring and think only about work all the time.

For this reason, here we are going to share all the fun we manage to have outside of work place, cause here we don’t just work, we know how to have fun and spent time together!

EVS corner

There is no big need to explain what an EVS corner is.

Here you will find everything about EVS…

Some useful information.

Some funny stories from our life. 

And everything else that might be similar to European Voluntary Service!

Juventude in Action

JCV Braga is the youth department of the Portuguese Red Cross, Branch of Braga, a very active volunteering organization that can provide you with a large variety of possibilities, where you can leave your mark in doing good deeds. All the projects are different and you can choose the one that is more close to what you want to do.

Here we are going to try to explore in a little bit more detail all the main projects and of course some casual actions that are not happening every day.

So let’s start from the beginning!

There are way more projects in the Juventude, but we are going to tell you about those, we had an opportunity to be a part of or still are:

All the projects run in different areas and have a lot to tell so we are going to share our knowledge in the next posts in this section. As there are a lot of different projects, we cannot promise that we will say everything about one and then go to another, as you know, they are still running and the stories are still in the process to be told, so all the post will start with a name of the project to make it more clear!