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My transformative volunteering journey in Sicily

My life took an interesting turn this summer when I embarked on a two-month volunteering experience in stunning Sicily. A group of 45 energetic participants, aged 18 to 30, from around twenty European nations, came together to promote a holistic and preventive approach to healthy living. Our voyage of discovery and influence was not only enriching but also a life-changing bonding experience that has left an everlasting effect on each of us.

The heart of our journey began in the charming town of Nicolosi, where our diverse team converged for a week of intensive training. From the very outset, it was evident that we were more than a group of individuals; we were a family of passionate change-makers ready to make a difference. The training established the groundwork for our objective, which is to advocate for the importance of prevention in leading a healthy lifestyle. Our journey took us to three different cities, each with a distinctive viewpoint on our common purpose.

In Montedoro, we rolled up our sleeves and lent a hand to a local restaurant, focusing our energy into duties that not only contributed to the establishment’s well-being but also signified our commitment to maintaining healthy environments. Cleaning the pool, planting vibrant foliage in the garden, and adorning the exterior walls were tangible expressions of our belief that a healthy environment is a cornerstone of overall well-being.

In Corleone, a field once tainted by the shadows of organized crime became a canvas for our aspirations. We worked hard here, tending to vines that represented the strength of a community breaking free from its history. The field served not just as a tribute to nature’s power to regenerate, but also as a living symbol for our belief that prevention is the key to rooting out problems at their source. Our involvement with local anti-mafia museums strengthened our resolve to a future untainted by the wrongdoings of the past.

Our journey led us to Caltanissetta, where our compassion and determination found a meaningful outlet. Working alongside refugees from Somalia, Egypt, and other countries, we imparted the essence of a healthy lifestyle. With unwavering enthusiasm, we communicated the significance of wellness, not just as a personal endeavor, but as a unifying thread transcending cultural boundaries. The exchange was a poignant reminder that health is a universal language that fosters connection and understanding.

Amid our shared efforts, we also collaborated on comprehensive questionnaires that captured the pulse of health within each city. These surveys served as an invaluable tool for StraussAPS, our organizing body, to identify areas for improvement across the cities. Our work wasn’t confined to physical labor; it extended to creating pathways for better health practices and inspiring positive changes that would reverberate for years to come.

As our journey drew to a close, we reconvened in Nicolosi for a four-day evaluation that mirrored the holistic spirit of our mission. It was a time of reflection, celebrating milestones achieved and the friendships forged. Our collective impact transcended the walls of individual cities, reinforcing our shared responsibility for a healthier future. This voyage of compassion and camaraderie was punctuated by the warmth and dedication of StraussAPS. Their commitment to our growth and the communities we served was unwavering, fostering an environment where our ideas flourished, and our actions resonated.

More than just a summer adventure, this experience was a turning point in my life. It changed my outlook on health, emphasizing the critical necessity of prevention in ensuring our well-being. Beyond that, it built long-lasting bonds that cut across borders, joining us as a global family committed to a healthier, more harmonious world.

My volunteering journey in Sicily was a testament to the power of unity, empathy, and proactive wellness. Through diverse tasks, meaningful interactions, and shared moments, we etched a chapter of change in the narrative of these cities. As we scattered back to our homelands, we carried with us the vibrant memories of our shared purpose, the bonds we created, and the profound realization that by preventing, we were nurturing not only our health but also the resilience of communities and the spirit of unity.

Anastasija Popovski

– our ESC volunteer in Sicily

Project: Erasmus+ Team Volunteering  ”High Road”
Hosting organization: Strauss APS