At the end of August 2021, the young people who came to Baia Mare in October 2020, and respectively March 2021, completed their volunteer service through the European Solidarity Corps Program: Marina Monje Jover (Spain), Margarina Santana Honorio (Portugal), Cristian Sanchez Cabezudo Serrano (Spain), Marine Heinrich (France), the host organization being the Federation of YMCA Romania. At the beginning of this year, 2 other young volunteers from the project completed their service in Romania – Sinituuli Suominen (Finland) and Antonio Salvatierra Ortega (Spain).

Through the activities carried out with children and young people from Baia Mare, Cavnic, Sighetu-Marmației, Vişeu de Sus, Șomcuta Mare, they promoted solidarity, inclusion, UN Sustainable Development Goals, youth participation, Climate Change, empowering them to become promoters of positive changes through learned values and behaviors.

Throughout this 11-month period, volunteers conducted extracurricular activities – online and offline – with students from schools and high schools, educational and recreational programs at a foster house, inclusion programs at the night shelter and the second chance school within Somaschi Foundation and Cavnic, educational and environmental programs within the YMCA Green Club, 3 sessions of YMCA summer camps, public intercultural and educational events at the Baia Mare Youth Center, created food and clothing collection campaigns for beneficiaries of inclusion programs. At the same time, in each of the nearby towns of Sighetu-Marmației, Vişeu de Sus and Cavnic they organized an one and a half day sessions in which together with the local youth they carried out activities related to youth participation, climate change at global, national, local level, identified community problems and bringing solutions, having a dialogue with the representatives of the local decision makers, exposing the perspectives of the young people and making their voice heard. At the same time, they were continuously supported through mentoring, coordination and supervision, Romanian language course.

Volunteers also created their own projects in our community based on personal skills and interests. Thus, the volunteer from Portugal, Margarida, collaborated with the County Museum of Art – Baia Mare Artistic Center – translating into Portuguese the history of the Baia Mare Artistic Center, created the skyline of the historic buildings in the city – part of the online exhibition “Baia Mare Architectural Reflections”, presenting at the same time, one of the paintings from the series “Wandering through the gallery”. Spanish volunteer Cristian, being passionate about animals, organized an exhibition event with the PhotoVoice method to promote animal rights, adoption and sterilization; Spanish volunteer Marina organized storytelling sessions for children aged 5-9, making her own light table as the main tool used for stories; the volunteer from France, Marine, organized multidisciplinary sports sessions for children and preadolescents, thus promoting movement, table sports, well-being, socialization.

The local partners of this project were: “Pintea Viteazul” Cavnic Economic College, Maramures General Directorate of Social Assistance and Child Protection, Baia Mare County Directorate for Sports and Youth – Baia Mare Youth Center, Somaschi Volunteer Foundation, Mansio Association, SZMISZ Sighetu -Marmației Association, „Mihai Eminescu” National College, „Otilia Cazimir” Kindergarten Baia Mare, YMCA Baia Mare Association, YMCA Cavnic Association, “Spiru Haret” UCECOM Technological High School Baia Mare, „Vasile Lucaciu” National College Baia Mare, „Gheorghe Șincai National College ”Baia Mare,“ Transilvania ”Technological High School Baia Mare,“ Emil Racoviță ”Theoretical High School Baia Mare,“ Ioan Buteanu ”Theoretical High School Șomcuta Mare,“ Nicolae Titulescu ”Economic College Baia Mare,“ Bogdan Vodă ”Theoretical High School Vişeu de Sus, Someș-Tisa Basin Administration – Baia Mare Water Management Service, County Museum of Art – Baia Mare Artistic Center, Village Museum, School Center for Inclusive Education, Baia Mare Local Action Group, Social Rehabilitation Center for children at risk – DAS Baia Mare.

“This project made me really understand the importance of solidarity and being free of prejudice and etiquette. It gave me the opportunity to understand my purpose in life and the meaning I give to each aspect. I understood my weaknesses and had the opportunity to work on them. I imagine this project as a great journey that I lived with a lot of emotion – pride, care and gratitude. Every face I met, every context of volunteering and socializing gave more meaning to this journey. The YMCA created this journey and without this opportunity I would not have fully understood what is solidarity and sharing. In the end, I can say that we have empowered ourselves by empowering other young people. ”- Margarida Santana Honorio, 23 years old.

“My development process was slow due to the pandemic, but I was surprised by my integration process. I did not expect the people of Baia Mare to accept me so quickly and well and, whenever I had the opportunity, even shopping, I talked to people, and they were very eager to communicate with me to understand me and I understand them. This project broadened my horizons, I saw the situation and I worked for 10 months in vulnerable communities. Having the responsibility to create activities and events, to improvise in different circumstances, made me grow personally and professionally. I did not feel the impact of the activities carried out online, but the physical ones and especially those from Sighetu Marmației, Vişeu de Sus and Cavnic had a very big impact on the youth community . ”- Marina Monje Jover, 23 years old.

“It was a pretty good process, considering the fears I had, but I think I adapted perfectly. I believe more in myself; I understand much more things from a cultural point of view, and I have made a lot of progress in knowing English. I discovered that I am a person who likes to help, is supportive and who likes to learn. Our project is a big one, with laborious activities and a lot of work both in programs and in preparation and planning. I will talk about everything I did in this project, about the effort and attention received, about the experiences here, about solidarity and empathy. ”- Cristian Sanchez Cabezudo Serrano, 25 years old.

“This project made me understand that I want to continue working with an organization, volunteering or as an employee. This work is very important and carrying out activities together with vulnerable, with poor Rroma communities and it made me want to give more. My expectations have been met because I like working with children and young people. I really enjoyed being in a multicultural team that forced me to improve my English and introduce Romanian words and phrases into my vocabulary. Moreover, I developed digital skills and enjoyed the success of the activities we created at the family-type house, in Firiza, in Craica, in camps. – Marine Heinrich, 22 years old.

“Building Stronger Communities” project is funded by European Union through European Solidarity Corps program and it is implemented together with partner organizations: Asociacion Building Bridges -Spain, ProAtlântico – Associação Juvenil – Portugal, Tambour Battant – France, Allianssi Youth Exchanges – Finland.

Project coordinator,
Tudor Rus