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VOLonMAX - story of volunteering

Our relationship was enriched with many of her 'firsts': first going outside the orphanage garden, first walking in the store or cake shop, first petting a dog and so on.

Through several years of volunteereing, I associate with the old, the homeless and highschool pupils, but, nothing was as much emotional as my volunteering with the abandoned children.


My first nine months of volunteereing I spent with a four-year-old boy from the hime gor abandoned children. He was a hiperactive, but very sensitive boy and I loved him very much. Few times, at the end of my visit, he would started to cry and I would instantly felt lump in the throat and my heart would shrunk. The last time this happened to me, he wasn't the one who was crying - I was. I'm sure he was smiling in that very moment: he has been spending his first few hours with his new parents. Namely, he was, along with his big sister, finally adopted. I had no choice to consider whether to say goodbye to him or not – nobody asked me. Maybe it is better this way, but at that moment it didn't felt right. I felt both, sadness and anger.


Because of this feelings, I needed a break in volunteering and it lasted for several months. Then I joined student's organization that has been organized actions for homeless. But, as much as I enjoyed this, something was dragging me into orphanage again. I had love to give to an abandoned child and I even felt guilt not to.


So, in January 2006, I've started to volunteer in the orphanage, once more. The social worker said to me that an eighteen-months old baby girl and her one year older sister have just arrived an she proposed to me to become her 'big friend'. My first visit of her, now I can say it, immediately have shown me her temper. Through the next two years she was stubborn, moody, distrustful, sensitive, adorable. Her nickname in the orphanage was 'The Terminator', but everybody loved her - when she smiled, she could have melt Antarctic. I taught her much, but she taught me even more. In June 2007 she was sick and spent about ten days in a hospital. These days were very hard for me because nobody has been visiting her, except me. She cried every time when I was going away and this was just awful to me, I had to leave her with the strangers. I cried every time, too. It was an awful experience of finding out that the staff didn't care for her outside the orphanage. It was shocking to me. I still think it stinks to be doing this kind of job without any feeling. It's not human and it's not professional to leave a child in the hospital without any care and love. But 'my' baby girl and I, we arised much stronger from this.


Our relationship was enriched with many of her 'firsts': first going outside the orphanage garden, first walking in the store or cake shop, first petting a dog and so on. Finally, after few years, she has learnt to talk and she has become considerably less moody. I've noticed that she has been shown remarkable development comparing to her one year older sister. I was a part of this process, too. I still miss her.

Kosjenka Mateković, Zagreb