European Youth Portal

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Croatian EVS-volunteer Zrinko played guitar in Freak Circus

Zrinko Vranjes from Croatia worked as an EVS volunteer in an organization called Lantern (Lyhty ry) in Helsinki working with people who have intellectual disabilities.

When Lantern colleagues called Zrinko before he came to Finland, he answered the phone in fluent Finnish! Zrinko is a big fan of Finnish hard rock music and had thought to himself that if the Finnish music is so great the same must be true for the country itself. So he took up Finnish language studies and applied as EVS volunteer to Finland.


Freak Circus

In Lantern the volunteers are given an opportunity to try different types of tasks and challenge themselves. When music workshop project called Freak Circus was started again, Zrinko was invited to join the group as a guitar player. Lantern nurse Markus Vahala says that Freak Circus was quite a challenge for an international volunteer. Producing drama in another culture takes courage and willingness to test one's own limits. Freak Circus had received quite a lot of media attention during its first season, so did the second season and the show was assessed by number of art critics. Nevertheless the second season was also a success.


Freak Circus is a great example of a successful voluntary project. There was a need for a suitable guitarist to the project and in Zrinko they found a capable guitarist who wanted to play and be part of the group. For Zrinko it was also a great opportunity to show his skills as a guitar and a team player.


EVS volunteers provide valuable support to Lantern

Lantern’s mission is to enhance the well-being of the person with intellectual disabilities, his family and the whole society.


Lantern provides:


  • apartments
  • learning environment for young adults
  • workshops (art and textile, culture, outdoors)
  • events and activities
  • education, research and development


Lantern has had international volunteers working with them since 2000. They work in partnership with Maailmanvaihto ry - ICYE Finland. Maailmanvaihto co-ordinates the voluntary projects and Lantern provides the place to work. There are annually 2-3 international volunteers working at Lantern. Their work periods last either 9 or 12 months.


Volunteers, coming from different cultures, encourage the persons with intellectual disabilities and give an example how you can be active, travel and see the world even with limited language skills. Spending time with volunteers brings faith and trust that there are always people around who are willing to help even when you are travelling in unfamiliar places.