Bridging Europe and Africa – a Social Initiative
The project is developed with the financial support of the Erasmus+ Program Key Action 2 – Capacity Building in the field of youth. It involves four partners from Europe and Africa: Youth Association from Transylvania (Cristuru Secuiesc, Romania) as coordinator and Aventura Marao Clube from Amarante, Portugal, Associação Amigos do Calhau from São Vicente, Cape Verde and ONG Minangan from Kétou, Benin, as partners.
The main aims of the project are to foster the cooperation of EU-Africa in the youth field, empower youth workers, develop skills and competences in project management and non-formal education methods and empower youth associations to promote participation, active citizenship, inter-cultural dialogue and solidarity between EU and African countries.
The project, which lasts 20 months, began in November 2015 and will end in July 2017. The project included a workshop for 24 youth workers, four job shadowing activities, two meetings for the middle evaluation and planning of the EVS activities, two European Voluntary Service mobility projects held in São Vicente and Kétou with three EVS volunteers from Romania are currently spending 6 months in Benin and 4 volunteers from Portugal are doing the same in Cape Verde.
The volunteers from Romania get their support in Benin not only from their host organization, ONG Minangan, but also from one of the funding members of the Sending Organization, Attila Nagy, project and EVS volunteer coordinator, ex-EVS volunteer, facilitator and trainer of youth mobility projects.
Three volunteers in Benin
I am Csíki Zoltánia-Réka. I graduated from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Târgu Mureş as a midwife, in 2015. I stumbled upon the opportunity promoted by the Youth Association from Transylvania that seemed to be a great challenge for me: to go as a midwife in Benin, Africa. Therefore I have decided that I wanted to take part in it because I could do what I like, in a place where I am needed.
I have seen and experienced a lot of things. I think we learned more from the people here than they learn from us. My greatest admiration goes to their perseverance. Every day they are faced with challenges that for us are easily solved with pushing a button or applying a quick fix. Loosing loved ones or having to find food for a family of 10-12 are everyday events here. Despite this, I have never heard them saying that they cannot take it anymore, or that they wanted to quit. This perseverance is always there: when a house is built, if a 10 year old girl is selling oranges from a 20 kilogram bucket, which she balances on her head, when a child is sick or if a mother brings her tenth child to life. Then there is their patience. Many times they say that there is still time for everything. Back home, I always felt that I never had enough time to finish everything; I never had enough time to do this or that. Here, I have not experienced this yet. I became more patient and with this, it seems that time has also expanded. I feel that my colleagues and I will return as different people, with new sets of values, patience, perseverance and, yes, professional experience. Because here I can learn and experience, and most important I help with delivering babies in such conditions that will give me experience for a lifetime. I am glad I have the chance to be here, as a midwife in the beginning of her career, in the African Benin.
I am Fazakas Emese-Sarolta and I studied at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Târgu Mureş to become a midwife. After graduation, in 2015, I set out to see the world. I have already volunteered in many associations during the academic years so, when I came upon the call “The Chance of a lifetime! Be Volunteer in Benin!”, I became interested immediately. I was always drawn to new challenges. It was also a childhood dream of mine to reach the foreign edges of the world, other continents. After I read the whole call which said that having experience as a midwife is an advantage I knew that this opportunity cannot pass me by.
In the first days, after arriving here I learned to adapt to this place. Then I realized that I was not only adapting but I was becoming more and more open. I came upon some sad situations in the clinic, which saddened me in the beginning, but the saddest moments taught me to stay strong and made me accept the fact that sometimes we are helpless. I became more self-confident, strong and brave. I have learned that I have to see the positive side even in the most difficult and worst moments, and that I can never lose hope. The people here fight much better for their goals, for staying alive, and this urges me to also fight more for myself, for my goals and to take advantage of all the opportunities life puts in front of me. My happiest moments taught me to be more simple, thankful and respectful, and made me realize that I have to appreciate everything that life offers.
I am Gagyi Réka and I grew up in a small town in the region of Transylvania, Romania. I started to volunteer at the age of fourteen, mainly around the church, then in high school and university. After I finished university, I started teaching in a primary school in my home town and I was coordinating local and international volunteers in a local youth association. And then, around one year ago I decided to make one of my older dreams come true: to get a glimpse in how people in Africa live. I wanted to give, but also to get.
On the 1st of September 2016 we arrived to Benin, where besides the unbearable heat, many small black children waited for us. I teach English in two classes in a local primary school and I do creative recycling with another group of children using non-formal approaches. Before coming here, I set two goals for myself: to become more persistent and more patient. I learned to put value on what I have and that I have to work for what I do not have yet. Gratitude becomes part of the everyday life. During my volunteering, I spent a lot of time with myself. I learned new things about myself. I now have time to get to know and develop my abilities. I learned to handle difficult situations with more ease and to focus more on making my environment better.