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“Breaking the Cycle” training course in Daugirdiškės, Lithuania

My name is Leonid and this spring I had the opportunity to participate in the training course “Breaking the Cycle” in a lakeside village Daugirdiškės in Lithuania. The goal was to learn more about ourselves, particularly about our emotions and ways to cope with them in a healthier manner. Going to the project, I was a bit dubious. Before the project, the environment around me and the way my energy was being used, made me think that I was only imagining that I am distraught and even that I shouldn’t feel what I feel or work on my emotions. As a result, I was assured that “things were just fine” and I wouldn’t get much on the project where emotions was a primary topic. Spoiler alert: I was very wrong. Once me and Andrijana, the fellow Macedonian I was traveling with, had arrived in Vilnius, we explored the city as much as we could before setting off to Trakai. We were excited to meet the project group there. First impression was amazing and I could feel comfortable in the group as we got onto the bus and travelled to Daugirdiškės together. 

The village itself and the “complex” of houses that were there looked great. I very much enjoy the countryside and the setting we were in already changed my feelings from doubts to excitement. We also met Laura and Maja, who were wonderful hosts. The days are all a bit of a blur. I do remember our first impressions, I also tried hard to remember everyone’s names and I do feel like I still remember them. There were different kinds of achievements during this project. The major one is realizing the whole objective of the project itself. With every next day and exercise, going to bed and repeating – it started slowly clicking together. Of course, some exercises were more effective than others. I would like to attribute the progress made to the one when Maja taught us about our needs and the contradictions they can cause. Firstly, I had never thought of emotions in such a way as something we NEED, let alone that those needs can contradict themselves and cause “problems”. Another breakthrough came when Laura had given some of us freedom to do our own exercises where a fellow project attende, Mariam, organized something like a blind confession. The people that wanted to speak would sit on the floor, eyes closed, a listener would sit next to them and the host would ask a question. There were  3 questions. I was a speaker, sitting there with my eyes closed. I breezed past the first 2 questions even though in hindsight they were much more difficult then I would like to admit. But the third question… “If a younger version of yourself was sitting right now in front of you, what would you say to him?”. Something about that question, I felt a wave of emotions come forth and I tried to talk to little me but I slowly faded to tears. 

That happened on one of the final days and it definitely proved my thoughts before the project wrong. I haven’t even mentioned the wonderful people I met on this project. Now, I have people I can call friends in so many countries and I can’t wait to meet them again in my or their country, to share more of our cultures and understandings. I keep in touch with most and I would like to keep it that way. 

In conclusion, this project helped us move past a border that most are scared to cross. It showed us that helping yourself is a great step so that you can help others next. I express my utmost gratitude to Laura and Maja for everything I learned on this project and I thank them as well for collecting such a good group of people that I can now consider friends. I will forever stand as a preacher of the monumental need that is our own mental health.

Leonid Mehandzhijski


Leonid represented Volunteers Centre Skopje at the training for the project: “Breaking the cycle” that took place in Daugirdiškės, Lithuania from May 22 to 30, 2024. The training was organized by organization: Generation Echo