It all started as the great need for adventure. In early 2020, I got the email which changed my life. “Congratulations for a very successful application!” – and this is how I was selected for the ESC volunteering programme held in Italy, the small city in Puglia region called Orta Nova. Together with association “Beyond Borders” we were preparing for the upcoming changes. Full of excitement, we could not wait to start working on making this world a better place. But then a monster knocked to the door. “Here I am, the global lockdown invited by the virus” he presented himself and closed all the doors with the only one thing left – hope.
The volunteering was supposed to start in April but due to the global situation it was on hold for unlimited time. When it became safer to travel, we decided to take this new term of “being normal” and proceed with our dreams. In August, I packed my luggage, put a mask on and flew to the country of pasta and pizza. There are a lot of great other things too but let’s be honest, – a path to Lithuanian heart still goes through the stomach.
First two weeks passed in the quarantine together with my new adventure-buddy, another volunteer. All the tasks we had were adapted to the circumstances. Even though all the assets came to us through the balcony (Italian Romeos are very generous), lately works were going on smoothly and we created a database for future projects and events, starting from graphic design tasks, ending up with activities content.
After we stepped out from our house, everything was going on well, as the city was not in the red zone. Honestly, it did not last long. The monster who locked us during the spring was always around. Maybe just a little bit more relaxed. Even though my welcoming organisation has a bunch of confirmed projects, we were not able to implement any of them and had to concentrate on new tasks. Seeking to involve us in the local community and assure our safety, the organisation involved us in local agricultural activities, like Vandemmia (grape picking). These activities are interesting, involving and still safe as they are happening outside.
Furthermore, following a lot of restrictions (all day wearing a mask, wearing gloves, almost bathing in disinfectant), we also joined volunteering in “Mensa” where we serve food for poor people and then “Caritas”, another organisation providing food products and clothes for people in need. To give is to love they say here. Could you deny it? I definitely couldn’t and so keep on loving everyone around. The rest of the tasks are adjusted for smart working. Due to that, we are improving social media by creating content, brainstorming future project ideas and looking for other possibilities to take at least a few steps forward.
The world slowed down but it did not stop. Safety always should come first but we should not stop living. If someone asked me if joining international experiences during the current situation, I would definitely say yes. European Solidarity Corps with its volunteering opportunities is one of them.