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Volunteer Story: Gary in Bosnia

I spent two months in Sarajevo at the camp at Usivak, Bosnia and Herzegovinia with Aid Brigade (now Collective Aid).  The work was varied, interesting and the team was fabulous to work with. We did cooking in a little kiosk kitchen and then distributed the food to people living on the streets and squats of Sarajevo. We also helped Collective Aid in the kitchen at the camp as they fed up to 600 residents, 3 times a day.  It’s work and it was sometimes very long hours, but fulfilling and worthwhile.

The biggest project I was involved with was creating and running a community activity center and language classes inside the camp.  When first approached with the idea, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) who administers the camp gave us 2 words of instruction:  “Do it!” They provided space and most of the supplies we needed and we found some fantastic people to step in and create these projects from scratch.  Today, the community center includes games, tea, socializing and just a place to hang out and be normal again for all the residents of the camp. Men, women, children, families.  Most nights we have up to 80 people there having a good time, which they need so desperately. The language classes are held every day, 5 days a week, and now include not only English, but French and Bosnian as well.  It’s been a fantastic experience and I would urge anyone who wants to do something really grand to come.

If it weren’t for Indigo Volunteers, I might never have found Aid Brigade. Indigo sent my information and experience to Aid Brigade and we made contact with each other.  It’s the best way I’ve found yet to locate volunteer openings as it cuts out a lot of uncertainty. Please use their service. It’s free.


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