Hi, I’m Gianpietro, I’m 27 and I’m from Sardegna, the big and ancient island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea. Where to start to tell about five months here in Skopje?
Well at the beginning one can be tricked by the aspect of the city: old and new dwelling into something that’s ugly and graceful at the same time. Smog and air pollution surrounding breathtaking hills covered in green and trees, expansive cars and villas on one side facing an old kafana burned to the ground on the other. Shiny Mercedes surpassing a dirty gig carried by a skinny horse, with poor people on the top lookin’ for plastic bottles in the trash cans of the city.
The aura that surrounds everything seems to come from the history books I’ve studied in Sardegna, something related with post-Tito, progress and loss.
You change your mind as soon as you start to explore deeper. The city is alive, and multicultural in many ways. The numerous universities based on all the city host a lot of foreign students, from Turkey to America, even Italian and, rarely,even from Sardegna itself.
The Old Bazar is a world into a world, the road to reach the Castle and the Mustafà Pascia mosque and experience of different language and colors. Or, at least, this is what I’ve felt while losing myself into this new city, so strange and yet so familiar.
And then Krik’s Office. A cosy house based on the hills. I’ve arrived in January, when all was covered in snow and ice. Nala, the cute dog of the office gave me a warm welcome barking happily.
Inside a team of young people received me with smiles and hot coffee. And then my adventure begun.
I’ve never worked with people with disabilities, nor physical or mental ones. So at the beginning I didn’t know what to expect, or how to behave with them. The guys from Zavod, one of the special schools we work with, solved all my doubts breaking immediately the ice with a hug. And after that everything fitted in it’s right place. Same history for the youngsters in the other two schools: I’ve never experienced so many positivism and will to participate at workshop in students so young.
You know, sometimes working as a volunteer can be hard, kinda stressful: something not working in the house, difficulties and adaptation problems are things that happen’, but in the end, when the participants keep sending you messages all the week to be sure you’re going to visit them…well that is worth all the efforts, the days without hot water or the nights sleeping in broken beds.
Knowing you’re not alone in this work is also something that charge your with positivity.
Not only the guys in the center, but also the other volunteers who occasionally give us help are a plus ultra. With them I’ve spent five months of great evenings, with ideas and laughs and partecipation. I’ve shared ideas and learned new points of view, debating topics and confronting myself and my life with others. I’ve met new friends, new opportunities, new languages and new traditions, and this is still going on, helping me to better understand who I am and what I can do to make the difference.