Experience report

Neza Janovljak, Slovenia, 2021


"Volunteering at Harom Galamb was my first ever experience working with young adults with special needs. I had no previous experiences with that kind of work, so I was a bit nervous, I did not have all the competences and the knowledge required to actually be helpful. And I was also a little concerned because of the language barrier since I did not speak Hungarian.

But once I started working with Blanka and Enikő, I got the feeling they appreciated just my presence and the attention I gave them, even if they did not always understand me. Through the different activities such as baking, painting, motoric games, dancing and weaving I got to know them and their strengths more and more each week, encouraging them to try and do things by themselves, but being there to help them in case the task was too difficult at that moment. I was very impressed by their fast ability to learn new things; they mastered the wool carding a lot quicker than I did. It was very rewarding for me to observe their progress with the activities and their increasing confidence resulting from it. I really enjoyed the walks through the village after lunch when, after a lot of work and concentration on the different learning activities, the young ladies could relax a bit more and just enjoy the fresh air and observe the world around them.

I feel very lucky to have met the two very unique and special young women and had the opportunity to be a small part of their learning process. I believe now I have a much greater understanding of the important work associations such as Harom Galamb offer and so I am very grateful to Harom Galamb and to Blanka and Enikő for this wonderful experience I will never forget."

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Audrey Villedieu, France, 2021

"My name is Audrey and I am a volunteer in the association ATA, in the framework of a voluntary service with the European Solidarity Corps. My mission is to help the work with people with various disabilities in the different settings.

I work in three different provisions, two of which are non-profit associations and one is a state-run centre. The two NGOs have it in common that their focus is on the human being in its individuality, its complexity and all this in a social context. In the centre for disabled children, the medical aspects and the physical care are more pronounced. This is crucial as the children are in the centre 24/7.

In my other work places, we have group activities that last for several hours.

Working with people with disabilities is an incredible human experience. An incredible lesson in life, teaching humanity and humility. When I am with them, children and adults, I feel an immense pride and a wave of love. They are such friendly and caring people. They are accepting and welcoming towards others.  I feel so honoured to be able to share these moments with them. For some reason, I feel at peace and so happy to be able to connect with them.

I'm not saying it's easy. Nothing can be perfect but in this imperfection I feel good. Working with them is not to be taken lightly but it is all the more rewarding. There are as many disabilities as there are people who can work with this group. There is no ideal quality to be able to share moments with them, everyone can find their place.

They take a lot of energy, require patience and not knowing the language makes it of course challenging. But the magic lies in the fact that we don’t communicate only with words and speech. Of course, I try to use language but most of the time non-verbal communication works well. A smile, attention, a touch and exchange of energy is all it takes. Beauty is in the little things. Sometimes it may feel complicated to use it but there is always a way.

My activities are cooking, gardening, dancing and singing. My main activity is to share moments, laughter, joys and sorrows and to be attentive to their needs. The main thing is just to be there for them.  Sometimes it is tiring, sometimes I am exhausted at the end of the day, but in return they give a lot of hope, humanity, wonder and love. Mostly love.

In summary, working with people with disabilities is a mixture of hope, wonder, patience, tiredness, humility and great lessons in life."