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music in the heart

I didn’t come to my voluntary service in Romania straight, I’m actually a “banker” and worked for a bank for five years after graduating from high school. Out of the desire for change, I searched the internet and came across the possibility of a voluntary social year. I finally decided working with ELIJAH because I felt like being in best hands there. I felt their joy from the start and accepting me as a volunteer in their community and projects.

I have found great pleasure in working with children. I have grown very fond of them with their laughter, their openness and the “spontaneous comedy” that arises so often. I realized how difficult the situations in the children’s families are and how important and nice it is for the children to have a safe place in our centers where they can just be themselves. Community life here is something unique. I was able to get to know a lot of lovely and great people and also learnt a lot about social work, which will help a lot in my future studies.

I especially grew fond of fourteen-year-old Paula, one of the girls we welcomed into our community. I tried to be there for her, to understand her and to help her. In return, she helped me with the Romanian language – so we complemented each other well from the start.  During my time in Romania, I was able to see how much I own, how “rich” and free I am, how privileged I grew up compared to all the girls here. For me it was no question but to go to school and to choose my partner myself. I was always able to choose my path in life, make decisions for myself and was supported by my family. This is not often the case here. When I close my eyes, I see the faces of the many great people here as an inner image, that I will always carry in my heart. I hear the children’s laughter, but also the Manele music. Generally music is very important and all children are very musical. With them, the music just comes straight from the heart, you can hear and feel it. With us, I often have the feeling that everything is very “top heavy”. The same applies to dancing. I’ve never seen five-year-old girls dancing like that before, it was and is very special to me.I listen to the songs we sang in the Holy Masses because a big part of volunteering with ELIJAH is spirituality. Through the daily morning prayer and the holy masses as well as the Bible school one can be close to God here. If you are open to it, you will definitely notice a change in yourself. Never before have I outspoken my requests to God in front of other people or given them my opinion on the Gospel of the day. I would also recommend every future volunteer to get involved and listen to themselves. I will always be grateful for what I have seen, experienced and learned here. 

Hanna from Austria, volunteer 2022/23