Volunteer Report: Aycin, Iliana, Suna and Hannah report from their mission in Bosnia

As lockdown concerns mounted and discontent grew in Germany, we made the decision to participate in the Bosnia mission. Gathering the courage and waking up from the lethargic reverie definitely took strength: What images await us? Will we be able to handle it? What will it be like when we get back? Questions that could have kept you stuck in your comfort zone, in your own home. But especially when thoughts are critical, but intuition is clearly in favor, that’s exactly when you have to listen in order to grow.

Five of them began their journey to Bosnia in mid-February. Private issues and expectations of the mission were part of our conversations on the trip. With different views and different characters, we drove across the borders to achieve the same goal: Supporting on site.

The first day was ahead of us and the excitement on the way to the camp was felt by a silence that did not exist before or by comments that wanted to break this silence.

We arrived at the camp on a gray day, far from any civilization in the cold mountains. Wrapped in many layers, we stood in front of 30 tents where people stood without stockings,in their open toed bathing shoes that were almost at the point of tearing. Many residents of the camp were in the tents or sitting at the fan heaters, from which dry air emerged that didn’t really look warming. I wonder what they are doing in those tents right now? Do they still have dreams and goals in life or are they only concerned with survival? Are they in contact with their families? Do they even have a family?

Many questions buzzed in our heads as we tried to meet people with a friendly and not too forceful look. A pressure developed in our stomach, a guilty conscience, as we became aware of how well-off we are. Rather, the feeling of gratitude was to be expected. But no, when you saw these circumstances, it was hard to feel gratitude. Until the evening, the questions in the head accumulated and became more concrete. What do I do as an individual member in society to prevent or even cause such situations?

Motivated, we started the next day to prepare hygiene packages. After a skin disease broke out in the camp, it was urgent to do something, especially because it was also contagious. Medicine was unfortunately not enough, and for recovery also needed fresh clothes and other hygiene items. With confidence that these packages will help, we packed many more together with another relief organization.

On the next visit to the camp, the sun was shining and more liveliness was felt. The tents have already been disinfected and the hygiene items handed out. We talked, and indeed for brief moments we laughed together. With conflicting emotions, we wanted to empower people and show our interest in their stories. We heard stories of escape, stories of past lives, or just short light-hearted small talk so as not to create coercion.

On the way back to our accommodation, silence reigned in the car. This time none of us tried to interrupt them, because everyone was deep in thought. We realized that it was the right decision to participate in this mission. It also becomes clear that donating a sum of money can positively influence many individual fates, but also that support has many paths: support is donating, but also being on the scene, facing the facts and using one’s contribution more consciously.

Weeks have now passed since the deployment and an increased knowledge of where and how STELP provides support is one of the many points we have taken away:

Wood for heating was purchased and packed, large sums of food for food packages were paid for, but individuals were also provided with water and food, who in turn shared these supplies directly with others in need.

We were also able to get to know different levels and means of aid, different partners and aid organizations on the ground. All of this has allowed us to grow and show insight into volunteering.

After our return, we were also busy organizing our thoughts and feelings. There is a clear understanding: donate money, tackle, but also leave the comfort zone and get off the high horse of our luxurious everyday life. A dissatisfaction is also there, but not related to one’s own life, but to global injustice. A new voice that says to look where and how each individual can make their contribution, of whatever kind.

Thanks for your support!

Great, that worked. Thank you for taking the time to fill out the form.

Would you like to be kept up to date about our projects? Then sign up for the STELP-Newsletter.

Merry Christmas!

Your admission for the gifted partnership was successfull! You will shortly receive a confirmation email from us in which you will find all the details listed again. If you have any further questions, please contact us by e-mail.

Thank you for your donation

Your donation was successful. You will shortly receive a confirmation email from us in which you will find all the details listed again. Your donation will be debited from your account in approx. 3-5 working days. If you have any further questions, feel free to talk to us personally or write us an e-mail.

Thank you for your admission!

Your admission was successful! You will shortly receive a confirmation email from us in which you will find all the details listed again. If you have any further questions, please contact us by e-mail.

Thank you for your admission!

Your admission was successful! You will shortly receive a confirmation email from us in which you will find all the details listed again. If you have any further questions, please contact us by e-mail.