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Embarking on a volunteering journey with SPOSA in Slovakia, Bratislava, was an enriching experience that opened my eyes to the world of helping young and adults with autism. Over the course of two months, I engaged in private sessions, handicrafts, community outreach, and ultimately, the planning and execution of a camp for these individuals. Throughout this journey, I faced various challenges, learned valuable lessons, and formed lasting connections with fellow volunteers and SPOSA clients. In this blog, I will share my incredible experience and the lessons I took away from this meaningful endeavor.

Productive Times with SPOSA Clients:
The first month of the volunteering program was marked by private sessions and visits from SPOSA clients. Together, we spent quality time engaging in productive activities. Some days, we simply had conversations as friends, fostering a sense of belonging and support. Other days, we explored our creative sides by crafting handmade items like sewing bags or painting. Additionally, we contributed to the community by preparing dishes for homeless people, extending our help to those in need. Moreover, we made a difference in the lives of children by playing games that helped them improve their functional skills, such as puzzles, counting games, and sensory activities.

Preparing for the Camp:
Challenges and Growth: As the end of the first month approached, we began preparing for the camp, an endeavor that brought forth new challenges and learning opportunities. Being new to the workings of organizations, I encountered various obstacles, but I embraced each situation with determination and an eagerness to learn. Collaborating with SPOSA's volunteers, we started planning the first week together, while leaving the final two weeks for later.

The Importance of Early Preparation:
One lesson that became evident during the camp preparation was the significance of starting early. While we attempted to recreate the previous year's schedule, not having firsthand experience made it challenging to gauge the time, energy, and enjoyment required for each activity. This led us to start the schedule from scratch, incorporating elements of discipline, order, and fun, while leaving room for flexibility to accommodate unforeseen situations.

Selecting Materials and Unforeseen Surprises:
The process of selecting materials for the activities revealed unexpected challenges. Though it seemed simple at first, we soon realized the importance of meticulous planning and precise lists. Mini-simulations or trial runs of activities beforehand would have been beneficial in understanding the nuances of each task. Additionally, considering the number of volunteers, we learned the importance of having all the necessary tools ready, such as scissors and staplers.

A Cohesive Team and Grateful Community:
Despite the obstacles, our cohesive team of volunteers, along with the guidance of our experienced director, contributed to the success of the camp. Witnessing the satisfaction and gratitude from the parents and children we served was the most rewarding aspect of the entire journey. As we learned to manage schedules and resources effectively, we also acquired new skills that will undoubtedly prove valuable in the future.

My two months volunteering with SPOSA in Slovakia, Bratislava, left a profound impact on my life. It was an incredible opportunity to help young and adults with autism, create meaningful connections, and grow as an individual. The challenges I faced during the camp preparation taught me the importance of early planning and attention to detail. Most importantly, the joy and gratitude expressed by the families and individuals we supported reaffirmed the value of giving back to the community. I am immensely grateful for this experience and the skills I gained, which will undoubtedly shape my future endeavors.

Text a foto: Mariami Khutsurauli

Mariami je dobrovoľníčka programu Európsky zbor solidarity na projekte v organizácii Spoločnosť na pomoc osobám s autizmom. Projekt bol podporený z projektu EÚ Európsky zbor solidarity.

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