Volunteer stories

Volunteer: Snježana Ivanović

Do you know that feeling when someone tells you their story, their vision of better world and you deeply believe every word and something gets you going?! That is how my best volunteer experience begins.

In college, members of association “Nova Generacija” presented their three programs and volunteer opportunities in each of them. The story of the “Blue phone” got my attention and led to reflect on the re-inclusion in volunteer activities. I volunteered before, then I paused, and then, a little over two years ago, I filled out the application for volunteering at the “Blue phone” and went to the interview.

Few days after the interview, we started training. There is ten of us on educational training, we meet, we exchange our expectations and experiences. I practice, I'm trying, I am making all the effort to master all the skills necessary to work on the phone. I am insecure, I make mistakes, there are a lot of questions, concerns, fears, but also there is more understanding by educators, support, praise, constructive criticism and immense desire to help all of us to become independent consultant volunteers. The effort of all of us eventually paid off, a lot of training, supervision, discussion, projects, actions, common gatherings and positive energy led to results.

It is time for the next step towards the goal. I listen to older volunteer how he leads the call, on the supervision I act like a counselor during simulating call, then getting permission to answer the call. And finally phone rings and it's time to answer on my first call. Because of stage fright, which I had, I was not been able to properly pronounce all the words during the presentation of the counseling line, but even then I wasn’t left on my own. Older volunteer, who is here with me, supports me by nodding and says that everything is all right. Everything was all right, as it was after that. I had opportunity to talk to a lot of children, to support them and to search for potential solutions together. I had a chance to meet wonderful people who work and volunteer at “Blue phone”, people with whom I share the same vision of better tomorrow, the same goals, the same problems. People who have decided to devote their spare time to children and improving their position in our society. People who are willing to support each other to be there to answer all the questions and solve all dilemmas. I had and still do, an opportunity to be very happy being a part of the wonderful team.

By volunteering on this project, I got the opportunity to get more familiar with the problems faced by children, to understand them better and to try to come to the best solutions with them. Moreover, this was a great opportunity for my personal growth and development, the ability to improve my skills, use my potentials, get to know and understand myself better. It was very important for work on the phone, but also in private life, because the more I became aware of myself and my emotions, the more I was able to understand others and their emotions. My goal is to continue volunteering on this project, to continue expanding my knowledge in this field and being support to children in need. I do not know whether I always help the person who calls, but the change in their voice and thanks which I get at the end are priceless for me.

Volunteer: Stanko Nedić
Student of journalism

My story of volunteering started at December 2014. I found webpage of Association “Nova generacija” accidentally and it looked interesting. What attracted me in first place was idea of association that helps children in risk through different programs. I applied and my decision was to try to be included in program of Day Care Center. Soon I got invited to interview with psychologist from Day Care Center and after few days they informed me that I was accepted.
I will always remember my first day in Day Care Center. I didn’t know that most of the volunteers were girls, so when kids saw that I am a boy, they were very excited. Little boy D. told me: “Great! Now there is someone to play football with me!” I was very happy that kids have accepted me first day and that continued in next days, so I was relaxed and myself while working with children.
I have never regretted that I became a volunteer of Day Care Center because I think that this is the best way to use free time and knowing that you are the reason of someone’s smile or success. I intend to be volunteer in Day Care Center in the future and I hope that I will become more successful in working with kids.

Suzana Teofilovic
Born in 1995 in Doboj
Faculty of philosophy, psychology department

My voluntary story started in December 2015. I am a volunteer short period, but even for that short time I can see experiences I gained while volunteering in “Nova generacija“, in Day Care Center for Children, to be exact. I found out about this Association from one girl who is volunteering there for a long time. But, to choose volunteering as a lifetime interest I decided when representatives of “ Nova generaija” came to Faculty od philosophy and presented their project. Without further thinking, I realized what I wanted for a long time.

In December they called me for interview. I wasn’t nervous at all. I was so excited to start volunteering, I felt positive energy and confidence, and I was determined and sure in what I want. Employees in this Association are really good people, kind and open for conversation and advice. All those facts gave me courage. From education, getting to know the project and field of work of Day Care Center, socializing with other volunteers and signing the Confidentiality Statement, my wish became true. I became a volunteer of this Association. Beside studying psychology, I wanted to gain experience in practical work, which will for sure improve my professional work. This is an excellent opportunity for socializing, getting new information, knowledge, skills and, first of all, chance to help someone. The most important in volunteering is to feel motivation which will lead us to help, especially sweet and honest kids, to see their smile, encourage them to think and to see something new in them ( like talents, abilities ). Those are the indicators that make their life happier.

First day of volunteering was not long time ago, so the memories are still fresh. My shift is early in the morning, so first day I met one sweet little girl, A. She asked me to help her with grammar, because she had test that day. I was so happy because she has accepted me and because I can help her. She wanted me to become her teacher. My hart felt love and million other feelings. You realize, it is really important to be here. With boys I am often playing social games, because that is what they like the most. That time they were relaxed because they were on a school break so they didn’t think about homework. They are so wise and smart. I have often lost from them. One time, we finished playing some social game, and boy S. started crying because he lost. He could not handle the loss. I told him: “This is just a game, this is how you learn to be strong and you can’t quit, next time you might win.” Little boy cheered up right away. I thought, what a nice and honest hearts.
I was really happy because I attended on one boy birthday. I was looking them in that moments. They are like a family. Staff and volunteers are so kind. We can always learn something new from each other. It is nice to see kids when they are involved in creating jewelry (earrings, bracelets and necklaces). The most interesting to me was when little girl, S. when she told me:” You can bring this jewelry to your husband.” I laughed and then explained to her that I don’t have husband. I asked her “Do I look that old? “. I realized that kids need some time to meet us.
When I go to Day Care Center and play or study whit kids, I take a break from college and obligations. We talk about many topics and I can learn something from them as well. When I contribute making their life nicer, I feel so fulfilled.
I am recommending “Nova generacija“ as an excellent Association for future volunteers, especially for future professionals in humanistic sciences. One day, when I go back in my hometown, beside my college memories, I will bring back wonderful memories with kids from Day Care Center. Volunteering deepens our conscience, we realize who we are ad above everything, we help to the others. The meaning of life is in selfless giving love, attention and help. Happiness and smile in children’s eyes is a response for our hard work. This is my experience as a volunteer and first of many stories that are coming, inspired with lovely moments, workshops, games from working with children. I know that I am investing my time in good cause. If you made smile on someone face, that is meaning of existence… Because, making other people happy makes me happy!

Jelena Oljaca
Born in 1993
Student at the Faculty of Political Science, Social Work department

I heard about the volunteering opportunities at Nova generacija at my faculty, because the people who work at Nova generacija came to present what Nova generacija is and how to become a volunteer. They presented three projects we can apply to volunteer at, I was interested in all three but I applied for Plavi telefon and the Day care center for the children in risk. Since I study social work I think that it is a good practice to volunteer at the Day care center, and by volunteering at Plavi telefon I wanted to improve my communication skills and of course to help the children and youth users of the Plavi telefon. After some time I was invited for an interview for Plavi telefon and I was very nicely surprised, from the questions I was asked to the ways the professionals (psychologists, social workers) treat the volunteers, which I especially realized during the volunteering.

At Plavi telefon, we had the education sessions twice a week, while for the Day care censer we had a small training about the Children Protection policy and we got a chance to ask questions if we thought that something could be a difficulty for us.

When it comes to my relationship with the staff members, coordinators, I think that it is very good because I’m free to ask questions and to learn, and from my side, I think that I had a correct attitude towards work, critics and praises. After the education for Plavi telefon and after the training for the Day care center, all that was learned now needed to be applied, of course with the support and help from coordinators. First meeting with the children at the Day care center was very interesting; I started socializing and playing with them right away, probably wishing to be a child again and of course wishing to be accepted from them.

From that first meeting with the children, I became connected to all of them, I usually did homework with them, played, watch movies, talked about different topics, they often used to surprise me with the things they think about and I learned a lot from them. The most important thing when I started volunteering was to make sure that the children at the Day care censer are safe and protected, which they completely are, after I talked to them I saw that they love coming to the Day care center, they get along very well, they have everything they need there from food to school supplies. I liked the staff’s attitude full of respect towards the children, children on the other hand need to respect certain rules of conduct. In my opinion, everything functions very well in this relationship.

Regarding the Plavi telefon, I had a couple of calls; I think I tried my best to apply what I learned while at the same time to make it a nice talk between two persons. I learned to listen to people more, to try to realize what is their biggest problem, not to give advices but to lead a person to find solution on their own, which is very important in every relationship, it is important to know that we don’t know everything and that a person that has a problem knows the best how he or she feels and has resources to solve it, the only thing he or she needs is a good direction. I could not count all things I learned for coordinator on both projects because there are many of them, some of them I am not even aware of. All I know is that I changed the ways of communication with people and that I’m ready to forgive more, to understand and to listen to people. The most difficult thing for me was to say goodbye to children and that I need to tell them that I won’t be volunteering anymore, because I think that I’m losing a lot, but maybe I get a chance to volunteer again. To all who are in doubt whether to volunteer I would honestly recommend to do that, because you will for sure learn something new about yourself and have a better insight both in yourself and in others.

Milena Adzic
Born in 1995
Student at the Faculty of Political Science, Social Work department

My volunteering story started in the beginning of October, 2014. I wanted to spend my free time on community work, to do something nice for someone. I decided to visit the Center for social work in Banja Luka and to ask for an advice and a recommendation where to volunteer. I told the social worker that I would love to volunteer and that my wish is to work with children. She directed me to the Association „Nova generacija“. I found more information online and realized that this association's occupation is human activities in work with children.

       The very next day I came for an interview. I decided to join the Children Day Care Center project, because I love children a lot, I love spending time with them, to play. My task is to spend time with children in risk and the children who are the victims of violence, to help them with homework and studying, to play with them and advise them. I attended the education session for the work at the day center and I received useful tips. At the session I learned how to behave in certain situations, I was warned about different obstacles that could occur during the work and I was introduced to the Choldren Protection policy.

I will never forget the first day of volunteering. I showed up full of elan, I was very excited. On the stairs, Stefo was waiting for me. I happily exclaimed to him: „Hellooo, how are you?“. While he  replied seriously: „We know each other?“ That was so sweet to me. I realized that they are actually little flowers and that it should go step by step with them. It was very hard in the beggining because I didn't have any authority , the children didn't know me and I simply couldn't make any agreement with them. Over time they got used to me, they started to accept my opinion, there was no need to repeat something more times (to wash their hands before meals, to pick up the toys, that we need to study etc.).

During the volunteering, I learned that they are actually small people with their own opinions and attitude in every possible topic. I realized that each and every one of them is special in their own way. I classified the time I spend at the Day care center as quality free time. I can't describe with words the beautiful feeling when you know you helped someone, whether by talking, playing or studying with them. It feels nice when you realize through certain situations that your company feels good to them and when they ask when will you come again. For me that is a feeling that can not be compared to anything else.

       I remember the situation when I came for consultations with the coordinator and after I finished I stopped by the Day care center to say hello to my little friends and when Stefo told me: „Milena, I have to tell you that you are pretty today!“. I asked him why he thinks that and told him that I am completely the same as I am any other day. He said: „ You are not, Milena. You put mascara today.“ That was very cute to me and he made me laugh. Every time I come home after volunteering, I feel fullfiled and happy. I think that I changed a lot since I started volunteering at the Day care center. I'm more active when it comes to volunteer activities, I became more curious to learn as much as possible about the children in risk and their behaviour, to gain new experiences and to help everyone who is in need for help. I can't explain the beautiful feeling when someone trust you  so much that they can tell you their story and their secrets. It is nice when someone is sad because you have to go. Every smile on their faces don't have a price, while the feeling of happiness when you know that you are responsible for those smiles can't be compared to anything.

First birthday I didn't spend with my family, I spent with them. I bought a cake and brought it to the Day care center. That birthday will always remain in my memory. Although I wasn't with my closest people, they were there, they sang a birthday song and congratulated me. And absolutely nothing was missing. I remeber that Aco congratulated me with words: „I would love if you would live as much as it is on your birthday cake (19) but conversely.“ Every minute I spent at the Day care center is a very nice memory, every hide and seek game, chasing, cards, ludo, every movie we watched, every hair up do we made, every figure we made out od cardboard, and each and every of their smiles and looks of gratitude.

There was  no situations in which I regretted  volunteering, while on the other side there were many that encouraged me to keep doing the volunteer activities. We are one big family and our house, the Day care center is full of love, happiness, trust, safety and harmony. I love being a volunteer at the Day care center of the Association „Nova generacija“.

Zeljka Ciganovic
Born in 1992

I am one of active volunteers at the Association „Nova generacija“ and of course I remember how everything started, and now, 18 months after I am still enjoying it. I will try to evoke at least a part of it to you, to try to  describe what satisfaction I feel every time I enter the rooms of the Day care center.

The third year of my student life started, relaxed and under the influence of the summer break, I was entering an amphitheater while everyone there was quiet and writing something. I was confused a little bit, trying to realize what is happening when an unknown female came up to me and said: „We are from the Association 'Nova generacija', we work with children who are the victims of violence and children in risk, if you want to become a volunteer and to spend time with them, you can fill this application. Of course I took a sheet and a pencil and started answering the questions; after we were done, the girl took the sheets and told us that those who satisfy the conditions will be invited for an interview. As soon as I came home, first thing I did was googling and researching, I hadn't even known that an association like this even existed in our town. Beside all new information I found out, I realized that our media is definitely not working as it should- how come I have never heard of this? After a certain period of time, I received a new mail in my inbox with an invitation for an interview. I had mixed feelings of happiness, excitement and jitters, but that day I steadily walked to the Association building.

I met a psychologist and volunteer activities coordinator and I have to tell you- they are a complete oposite of what I expected. There was a plenty of kindness, calmness and positive energy right away, but that wasn't the strangest- they are young people, that surprised me a lot.

Conversation and atmosphere during the conversation were very pleasant and in the end the sentence I wanted to hear so much: „We think that you are a person that can be a volunteer at our Association, there is no need to inform you later- you are admitted, congratulations.“ At that moment I was very happy but I wasn't even suspecting the happiness that was coming up. I was going through the education with couple of other volunteers that were admitted at the same time as me and I was introduced with the way of work, rulebooks, policies and procedures that  need to be respected. I signed the contract and officially became a volunteer at the Association „Nova generacija“. Before I first went to the Day care center to spend time with children, many different things were going through my head such as: can I do something wrong, will I ruin something that they've been working on for years, what if the children don't accept me etc. At that time I realized that I had full support from the staff and that I'm not alone, and I was realizing that more and more through the days of volunteering. I remember my first step into the Day care center rooms and sights that were observing me carefully, a second as an eternity, I was trying to figure out and say my name, because it would be in order to introduce myself. Silly me, there was no need for jitters and fear, they introduced themselves to me and invited me to play with them right away. They started the conversation, asking me who I was, where do I come from, will I be spending time with them and at that moment I realized- they are not made of glass and they will not break, I can feel free and relaxed to talk to them.

Yet it took me a couple of months to start feeling free, I can say, like at home and start to trust them and more important for them to start to trust me. That's when the most beautiful friendship started, one can not find such human beings and such friends every day. Honesty emanates from them, there is no lies, there is an agreement for everything, satisfaction from all of us is in the air in those rooms. Games, studying and everyday conversations are  part of  the activities, some tears but also a lot of smiles always echo in the Day care center. When I look at that from  a side, I see that I'm doing the right thing and I feel fulfilled and satisfied. The biggest satisfaction one can feel is when we do something and don't expect anything back and we get a lot (even though sometimes we are not aware of it). There is no money that can pay for an honest smile, that shine in children's eyes when it makes a paper frog, that concentration and careful attention whle watching  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I knew that I'm doing the right thing at the moment when I received a card in which an eight-year-old child drew  a heart and wrote my name with the lines that were still not perfect, but for me they are the most beautiful because I know that they are honest and drawn by an unspoiled hand. I know that I'm doing the right thing when a child gives me a hug and says : „You are my friend promise me that you will never leave me“ and all that because I was absent for 15 days due to a cold I had. I had many nice moments there.

Maybe it is stupid to say but I feel that I'm a better person compared to the period when I still wasn't a volunteer, many positive changes are happening to me, that both me and people arround me recognize. What I find very hard is that there is many more of such children and that not all of them get a chance to stay at such places with such atmosphere and attention. This is just a little part of my volunteer story because some things are just too hard to be transfered to the paper, they need to be experienced.


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