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Volunteering is changing our lives and our common society

The 15-th anniversary of Volunteers Centre Skopje was a great occasion to organize a panel discussion to promote the volunteer spirit, but also to point out the anomalies in the process, the legal framework, and the necessary support from local and state institutions. We chose the headquarters of the EU Delegation in Macedonia, i.e. “Europe House”, as the venue, because the European programs “Erasmus+” and the European Solidarity Corps are recognizable among young people as a chance to get out of apathy, to learn something different, new cultures, languages, countries, to receive non-formal education which will later benefit them personally, but society will also benefit. And VCS is “home” in that field.

“That experience changes lives,” said director of VCS, Nikola Stankoski, who himself was on a one-year project in Lithuania in 2004. In fact, after his return to the country, the idea of VCS was born, which from then until today is considered the home of about 10,000 young people from Macedonia, who through our organization participated in various projects and activities in the country and abroad.

“We have received over 350 volunteers from abroad, who stay with us and change society. We can all do that, that is why it is important for young people to see the importance of volunteering, it is a process in which you give, but you also receive”, stressed Stankoski.

Zoran Ilieski, director of the Coalition for Youth Organizations “SEGA”, also noticed the importance of volunteering on local and global processes. He pointed out the need for more active participation of local authorities and the implementation of projects for local volunteers that will enable young people to get involved.

Nikica Kusinikova, director of “Konekt” addressed the legal aspects of volunteering, challenges, and the current status at the national and global level in Macedonia. She stressed that it is extremely important to motivate young people to volunteer and how important it is to promote volunteering in all sectors.

“We work mostly with the ‘Erasmus+’ and ‘European Solidarity Corps’ programs and they are available to young people,” said Marko Gjorgjievski, director of the National Agency for European Educational Programs and Mobility.

According to the analysis of VCS, over 70% of the young people who through our organization went on long-term projects abroad, returned to the country and with their newly acquired knowledge, skills and experience helped build society.

“I ‘met’ volunteering when I was 14 and I’ve been a part of that world for 9 years. A few years ago I went to Portugal via VCS and it is an experience I will always remember. Let us all together motivate the youth to be more actively involved in this process”, appeals Marijana Asprovska.

In 2015, we sent Natasha Petkovska to Spain for a one-year project.

“I am still there. After my project ended, I stayed in Spain, met new people, learned the language, gained skills that helped me find a job and live my dream”, said Petkovska.

Our Clarissa Leute from Germany, who is part of the VCS family for almost a year, admits that the decision to come to Macedonia is the best thing that could have happened to her after finishing high school.

“I have learned so many things, I have met wonderful people from all over the world, new horizons have opened up for me, I do not even believe that I will have to go home soon”.

In the end, we all agreed that volunteering has huge potential that we will need to develop much more. Volunteers Center Skopje will surely be a leader, as it was in the past 15 years.