An experience to remember fondly! – 2 months volunteering in Brcko

Reflecting on my recent ESC RESOLVE: Volunteering4Peace placement in Brčko, I have many fond memories. It has been a fantastic experience and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be an ESC volunteer.
When I first arrived in Brčko, I must admit that I didn’t fully grasp the significance of the location I was in. Learning about the scars of the 1990s war and the impact it has had on modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina opened my eyes to the uniqueness of the place I came to call home for 2 months. I am appreciative to have volunteered in such a unique location. Nearly 30 years on from the end of the war, Bosnia and Herzegovina remains very divided with Brčko District being the country’s only multi-ethnic entity, distinct from both the Republika Srpska and the Federation, the two main entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Volunteering with Svitac, a multi-ethnic youth, arts, and education organisation, has been so rewarding as the NGO plays a pivotal role in contributing to post-conflict recovery in Brčko. Svitac’s mission is to promote tolerance and unity among the three distinct ethnic groups: Croats, who are predominantly Catholic; Bosniaks, who are primarily Muslims; and Serbs, who adhere to the Orthodox Christian faith.
I enjoyed contributing to the NGO’s mission by supporting their reconciliatory youth work activities. During my time as an ESC volunteer, I helped to facilitate daily activities involving arts and crafts for pre-schoolers, as well as led both informal English lessons for pre-teens and conversational English workshops for teenagers. These activities all took place at the youth centre however I also went into the local high school and delivered presentations to students.
On the weekends, I took the opportunity to travel to scenic spots in both Bosnia and Herzegovina and the neighbouring country of Serbia. I explored hidden gems, places known to locals which I would never have thought to visit. One weekend I visited the village of Tršić and hiked to a viewpoint overlooking forest below. Another weekend I went swimming at Sunčana Reka (Sunny River). The natural beauty of the region truly blew me away!
Both the tasks and the travel opportunities made for an enjoyable experience volunteering in Brčko however for me the true highlight of my placement was the Svitac team at the youth centre, compromising of both local staff and volunteers as well as international volunteers from the UK, Germany and Turkey. Everyone at the youth centre was so friendly and positive. Some of the happiest moments during my time in Brčko were the evenings I spent with the other volunteers cooking together, sharing a meal and playing cards. The Svitac volunteers are what made my experience in Brčko extra special and why I was sad to leave.
I am thankful to have shared this incredible experience with some amazing individuals and I would like to express my gratitude to both Asfar and Svitac for providing me with this opportunity!

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All writers' views in articles are their own and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Asfar team.

Published by Asfar in London, UK - ISSN 2055-7957 (Online)