Hello everybody :),
We are Nadya and Katrin. We are two girls from Sofia, Bulgaria – the country were everything is better :). We are fourth year students in Sofia University and we study Regional Development and Politics. But NO we do NOT want to be politicians when we grow up.
The summer of 2011 we wanted to do something different, something to help others and at least for one year not to be selfish, so we decided to become volunteers. That is how we ended spending our summer in the amazing village called Kuterevo, Croatia. We were the so called “servants” of Helena and Ivan, or the EVS volunteers (European Voluntary Service), which is a part of the program “Youth in Action”. That was a great decision and we were very lucky. It is very nice because the European Commission paid for everything – 90 % travel expenses, accommodation, food money, pocket money (which if you are wondering were more than enough). The only thing required from us was good will and a lot of positive attitude :).
We were participants in the project “Active summer for Kuterevo bears” and our summer was more that active. It was full of exciting moments, new friendships and meeting eye in eye with Croatia’s biggest and “most dangerous” predator – the Bear. Which is completely NOT true :). Once you see these magnificent creators and learn more about them, once you see how a small community has accepted them as part of their lives, only then you understand how easy can be for everybody to live together with wild animals. For the two months that we were there we haven’t seen a wild bear, only the once in the refuge. It was partly because we were always moving in “small” groups of 50 people and partly because bears do not like confrontations with people. So in this village where there are a lot of wild animals living around there hasn’t been a single attack by a bear and people are more scared for their carrots than for their sheep :).
Another great thing that happened while we were “serving” in the refuge is that we really had the chance to learn a lot of new thing. The volunteers station is a very eco place – everything is recycled, everything is separately collected and reused, almost everything is biodegradable (unless stupid people like us go to the market and get the products in plastic bags), everything grown in the gardens is home made without the use of pesticides and other unhealthy products. So all the time there you grow your own food and buy whatever you need from the market and the people in the village, and what is better that that for your soul and your body :). Cooking was also part of our “job” and it was fun, especially when you have to cook for 20-30 people. But there were always a lot of people helping, so indeed it was a lot of fun :).
The last but definitely not the least good memory of our Kuterevo experience is the people. Village people, volunteers (groups or individuals) and Belgian scouts made our stay there unforgettable. It was a real pleasure to share with these guys as well as the bad moments (hard work) and the good moments (partying). Croatian culture is truly an experience that everybody should be a part of at least for once. Local people in Kuterevo will always welcome you in the nicest possible way and if they have the chance they will always try to get you drunk with Rakija (a local alcoholic drink that you should definitely try :)). But this is not something bad, it is just because people there are making their own Rakija and are very proud of it, besides volunteers from the Western part of Europe seem to like it very much :).
This is a very short tail of a small part of what happened to us when we decided to be part of Kuterevo’s big voluntary family. Only good things :). We would never regret even for one second of it and we will always remember and love everybody and everything in Kuterevo. So our only advise to you is – do it.
“VOLUNTEER. MAKE A DIFFERNCE! :)”