My name is Sasha and I am a volunteer for Per Esemplio Onlus for 5 months. I fled the war in Ukraine and for me finding this opportunity was like a gift because I had nowhere to go.
I’ve been dreaming of doing an ESC for a long time but something had always stopped me. A fear of going abroad, a fear of starting from scratch, and a deep attachment to my city Kyiv, a fear of not being able to communicate in Italian. So I was postponing this decision for years, and then a perfect opportunity for me arouse at a right time.
I’ve been to Palermo 4 times before my ESC and I’ve fallen in love with the city and Sicily a long time ago. So the city itself wasn’t a surprise for me, being festive, multicultural and diverse. I was a little bit worried about my age because I’m almost 29 and I know that European people usually do volunteering at 18-20, so the age gap could have been huge. But everything turned up just right, my neighbours are the best, and age is just a concept.
About the language support. Per Esemplio provides the volunteers with 2 offline courses in a school for foreigners Itastra, and online language support through the European system. Speaking the language is really important to able to communicate in the volunteering organizations we are working for, but the language support is very good and in my 5th month I can understand people around me and communicate my needs, I study every day so I hope my level of Italian is improving,
But Piano Piano as Italians say))))
Now I work as a volunteer in 2 social centers, the center for women and children Centro Penc, and Santa Chiara. I want to concentrate on Centro Penc because I find this place really significant and helpful. It is a space for the women and girls of Palermo and the area, and their children, who live in situations of social hardship. It is a safe space a safe place to talk to each other and share fears, difficulties and challenges, to find practical solutions and emotional support together.
In Centro Penc we do a lot of activities as volunteers, we stay with kids, do some social networking with their mothers, and participate in different center initiatives. My neighbour Maryanna is Ukrainian, so once a week we organize a course on Ukrainian dance in Centro Penc. It is a really great opportunity to share our culture with the wonderful women of the center.
The other thing I want to add is my little personal challenge during the volunteering in Centro Penc. I‘ve never worked with children so at first, it was my personal struggle to do it. But I did my best, learnt how to deal with them, and almost overcame this challenge. This illustrates perfectly how ESC works, cause I became a better professional and surely added a new skill to my life.