Clara has been volunteer in Un Coup de Main d’Emmaüs Iași during one year, from January 2017 until now. As her contract is coming to an end, she told us about her experience and what she has learnt from it.
How did you hear about Un Coup de Main d’Emmaüs Iași ?
I knew Emmaüs in France, but I didn’t know Emmaüs here, in Iași. I was ending a fixed-term contract in the administration of the Ministry of Agriculture and I was looking for a new job. I searched on Internet and I went through the volunteer work offers on the website service-civique.gouv. I wanted to find a job related to the agricultural field. This is how I found the volunteering offer in Emmaüs Iași. I enquired about the association, through the website and the Facebook page. Then I applied.
What were your main tasks during your volunteering work?
First of all, to spend time in the community of Popești and to think about how we could maximize the production based on biological agriculture principles and values. Then, to take part in the implementation and the monitoring of the crops, involving the companions. The aim was to product so the companions of Iași and Popești could eat the vegetables. Also to observe and transpose precisely the evolution of all the crops, and to give some recommendations for the next years. My job also meant to make the place more ecological, to raise awareness about recycling.
How were your tasks in line with your personal interests?
When I found the volunteer work offer, I thought it was perfect for me because it was not only related to agriculture but also to social rehabilitation: I had to do something ecological and educational, to grow vegetables and to work alongside the companions of Emmaüs. I am passionate about the fields of environment and ecology in general. To bring this within a farming production in such an association like Emmaus, it was much more that I could expect! It was a way to bring a social dimension in my area of expertise, namely the agroecology. I have learnt a lot about the area of voluntarism and about farming as a therapy, as a sharing activity.
What is your best memory about your volunteering year?
It is a tough question! (laughs). I don’t think there is a memory better than others, it is rather a collection of moments. Among them, there are all the car rides with the companions, when everybody is laughing, talking, squabbling…, the vegetable garden of Popești during the period of sowing, the noisy lunches and the birthday songs in the community, the street outreaches, the Romania Collective in Târgu Jiu where I have met plenty of “Emmaüs colleagues” from all Europe… I also liked the moments when we were eating watermelon behind the shop, during summer. It was a bit like our refreshing snack, we were all very hot.
To whom and why would you recommend a volunteering work here, in Un Coup de Main d’Emmaüs Iași?
I think that the volunteering experience here would please people who like to take the initiative and know how to work with others. In this Emmaüs community, there are plenty of things to do, to develop the activities and the support toward homeless people. Every idea to this effect is welcomed! If you put forward a project and if it is meaningful for everybody, you may be surprised by the speed in which it will come alive, if you pay attention to give it a collective spirit, a strong organization, and cheerfulness. You have to stay humble, but it is important to come being proactive. The implementation of your projects within the community is half of the volunteering work, I would say. On the other hand, through the community you learn a lot of things about Romania, Emmaüs, social working, also about yourself, the way you work with others… Besides, it gives you the opportunity to learn Romanian, which is an awesome language!
What is your favorite Romanian word by the way?
Paşaportul! (which means “the passport” and is pronounced “Pashaportool”). I love the sound of the “-ul” in Romanian. And, of course, the word Bebeluş (pronounced “Bébéloosh”) that I use all the time instead of the French version “bébé” (baby)!