Veton Hodai - volunteer in Saue Youth Center

Firstly, I’ll introduce myself in a few words and how I came here and what I’m doing.  I’m Veton and I’m 25 years old. I am an European Solidarity Corps volunteer in Saue Youth Center  who came in Estonia from Tetovo, North Macedonia last year through Erasmus+ programme.

What’s Erasmus+ and what is the voluntary service?

Erasmus+ is one of the European Union funding programmes supporting volunteering activities within the European Solidarity Corps Initiative.  The voluntary service is a programme for young people that provides unbelievable experiences and possibilities to improve/learn new skills.

I would definitely recommend this opportunity for the young people who are up for some challenges, like living abroad and willing to dedicate themselves to helping other people and the local communities. It has to be considered that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity – you have the chance to meet new people, to know more about new cultures, traditions, countries etc…

I’ve been here in Estonia for almost 8 months now where I’ve been doing my voluntary service.  In Saue Youth Center I mostly help the youth workers by helping them to organise and implement daily activities with them as well as I communicate, spend time and play with the youngsters, which is a lot of fun and much joy. As the state emergency started from 14th March, I had just arrived back from my holidays in Helsinki, Finland one day before.

During this pandemic time I would say it has been quite nice so far, even though I was a little sceptical in the beginning that my time here would become boring, with nothing to do and feeling useless, watching just movies and TV shows, but not at all. As I moved to Tallinn to live right before the pandemic I had a lot of things to do: going out for a run, doing exercise, riding a bike, exploring new places all around and doing some voluntary job with Tallinna Toidupank with my friend where we are collecting food from the supermarkets and delivering it to the people in need. This has been a nice experience so far, for I have had the chance to know some new parts or neighborhoods of Tallinn I haven’t explored yet while we were driving.

During this time I have visited places all around Tallinn like Pirita beach, Pirita Terviserada, Viimsi & Stroomi rand. Also, I’ve been to two waterfalls: Keila waterfall and Jägala waterfall, as well as few beaches outside of Tallinna like Türisalu and Paljassaare (the north part of Tallinn) and made a hike from Vääna-Jõesuu to Keila waterfall through the beach with amazing view and sun too. In addition, I have had a handful of free time to read books, and to do some activities with the Youth Center. Exactly after a month of break I had the opportunity to come back to the Youth Center space and for that I made some activities like cooking a Balkan dish for Saue Youth Center’s Instagram and playing some table tennis, drums and so on. Also, regarding the good weather these days we decided with my tutor to do a bike tour from Tallinn to Saue Youth Center, which was an amazing ride and experience. I hope the quarantine will finish as soon as possible, so we can move freely, socialize and everything could get back to normal, but I’m sure we will get through this.

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to explore Estonia as much as I can because I really like the nature here and I would say it is the best way to keep yourself active during this lockdown. It is the best time to do all the things that we weren’t able to do before and miks mitte, to learn something new. I will say that I’m optimistic – things will get better worldwide and we will get back to our normal lives. Peace ✌️