Natalia took part as a volunteer in the 2-month European Solidarity Corps/EVS project “An Earthquake of Solidarity”, coordinated by Associazione Kora in Norcia, Italy, from 15 July to 18 September 2019. The project involved 16 volunteers from different European countries, that supported the local population after the earthquake. The volunteers organised English sessions, made outdoor, intercultural activities with kids, kept company to disabled people and participated in local traditional events.

This is her story!

‘Why did you decide to be a volunteer?’ This question I’ve heard a thousand times from family, friends, even the locals from Norcia. And what is the answer? After hours spent on conversations with other volunteers, it’s all about priorities. When one day you think, ‘I want to do something more.’ 

Our main goals here for the last 1.5 months were participating in the music festival “Hempiness” in honor of Emanuele Tiberi. The task was to be creative with sustainability. After a few brainstorms, we created decorations from the plastic bottle labels, bins made from plastic bottles, wooden signs for different directions. One whole week of work showed very directly how much plastic is used for no reason all around the world every day and how easily it would be to reuse it. 

On the first day in Norcia we were putting flyers around the city to inform the locals about English classes. The word ‘classes’ didn’t scare kids at all because the first day we taught a big group of children around 5 and 10 years old. They were very active, who loved to play by dancing and interacting with the volunteers. The volunteer’s previous experiences in teaching helped a lot to prepare and keep kids focused. They were learning about animals, body parts, how to read the clock, colors, and descriptions of things. We wish that this knowledge will stay with them forever. 

Furthermore, included in the week plan is helping in workshops for disabled people every day.  For a few volunteers, it was one of the best experiences. We spent time with them, we watched TV, drew pictures and did lots of manual work. It was amazing to see how happy they were to see us and how much love we had from them. It was also a hard job but the reward for it was incredible and precious. Friendships and smiles are the best payment. 

Another great experience was attending the Summer Club – Monello. We spent lots of time there and some of the volunteers were heartbroken after Monello finished. The first day was an introduction. Children were curious about who we were and what we will do. When they saw that we can play with them, do puzzles, draw and dance, they started to be very open. Both groups – juniors and seniors use to say ‘Hi’ very loudly every time they see us on the streets of Norcia and this is a perfect example of the connections which we made. We showed them that we can spend time together, even if on the first impression we didn’t understand each other. 

We’ve spent almost two months here and what conclusion can we have for the question ‘What does it mean to be a volunteer?’ In general, it means to help and work without material profits. But to receive non-material profits like the best memories, that can be brought home with huge satisfaction. And that’s exactly why I decided to be a volunteer!

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