“These last months have given me goosebumps. So many enthusiastic and challenging experiences to be processed. Too much in my head and not knowing where to start from…”
Asociatia Lumea lui Pinocchio is pleased to share with you Laia Casas Portell’s words. Laia is an EVS volunteer within the project “EU Volunteers to learn” (ref. nr. 2016-1-RO01-KA105-024178), financed by the European programme ERASMUS+, and sees the collaboration of Asociatia Lumea lui Pinocchio with its Spanish partner COCAT.
Reading her words wil give you goosebumps!
Before leaving Catalonia I couldn’t stop hearing: Why Romania? Are you sure about it? Aren’t there any more countries to choose? But, obviously, the ones who told me that, had never been here before. Now that my project is finished, and after travelling around the country too, I can say this experience has pushed me away from the social prejudices that exist here; also from that ‘mistreat’ (in a certain way) Eastern Europe still receives from some who made it sadly known by a pair of stereotypes. Romania has interesting cities and charming rural areas, welcoming people and nice atmosphere, extreme seasons and breathtaking landscapes, and no, it’s not dangerous or risky. Furthermore, through the EVS Community, I had the chance to meet people with so many European different backgrounds; this allowed me to broad horizons and again knock down other stereotypes and prejudices. Cultural exchange made me understand that reality is a puzzle of perspectives, and it’s essential to respect, comprehend and preserve the diversity we’ve got.
In Panciu, a traditional Romanian house became home, and with it also the other volunteers, the staff of the centre and some friends. They were the ones who helped you when needed and the ones you were sharing your good moments with. Good hearts, good people, your little family. There was something in them that I could feel from the beginning: everyone involved at Asociata Lumea Lui Pinocchio is there to make things better. They’re willing for those children to become whatever they want to and not what society, families and past might set.
I remember the first days like the most exhausting ones for a long time; so much information was coming and going, and trying to come up again and stay… you arrive there full of energy but you have to start from zero, so you need patience and time to understand what is all about. The rules of the house and of the centre, the culture, the language, the people with their behaviour and thoughts, the daily life … and of course the children, each one different from the other. Little by little, going to Asociatia Lumea Lui Pinocchio was about celebrating each achievement together; blowing the candles on each of their birthdays; enjoying an endless number of artistic, sports and educational activities. Was about every multumesc after having helped Manu with the homework or given Fernandito a bowl of ciorba; every Nicoleta’s or Iasmina’s smile when rope-jumping and playing; every Gimi’s buna dimineataaaaa! at the statuie and every Mặdặlin Mic endearing face and hugs; every improvized choreography we danced with Maria or Angela; every Costi’s theatre moments and every Vali’s super cool pirouettes; every Denis speech and every Unde este Tiby?. That were the things that made my day.
Despite that, not everything where flowers and butterflies, we also had to quarrel and get angry many times. Every day it was easier to appreciate their shortcomings and needs, but it was difficult to fill all their voids in such a short time. I could feel two realities where going on there: their life is much more than the time we shared at the centre, and it’s complex to understand them, their reactions, behaviour and situation. They say that even if we can’t choose where we come from, we can choose where we go from there; the reality of the children at Lumea Lui Pinocchio reflects that this might not be easy. They have a lot of barriers and walls that need to destroy or climb on the way.
There’s much more than this to share, to learn, to see, to live and to be at Lumea Lui Pinocchio. These words aren’t enough to explain my experience in Panciu and Romania, and neither the whole work everybody does at the centre. I feel fortunate to have been part of a project like this, and to have met those children: huge people in little bodies… who can even give you life lessons.
Laia Casas Portell, January 2017