In the dynamic landscape of volunteerism and community engagement, Future in Our Hands NGO, based in Latvia, hosted a highly successful European Solidarity Corps (ESC) project from July 2023 to September 2023. This project served as a platform for enthusiastic individuals to contribute to the organization’s mission and gain valuable experiences in various capacities.

As the project concluded, the Future in Our Hands NGO now proudly shares its success story. The collaboration of passionate volunteers in PR, administrative logistics, and event organization resulted in a transformative experience for both the participants and the community. The organization’s dedication to fostering creativity, communication, and community engagement through the ESC project has left a lasting impact on all involved.

The Future in Our Hands NGO continues to build on this success, inspired by the positive change generated during the project. As they reflect on the journey, the organization remains committed to its vision of a future shaped by active, informed, and engaged citizens. The ESC project stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and volunteerism in creating a better tomorrow, with a special acknowledgment to the valuable contribution of the Latvian participant.

Hello, my name is Olya, and a month ago I returned from sunny Armenia! Quite by chance, I learned from my acquaintances that the organization “World our home” is looking for volunteers from Rezekne for individual volunteering in Armenia. Without knowing all the details, I decided to write to the organization and find out if this position was available since visiting Armenia had been my cherished dream since childhood! I was lucky; the spot was vacant, and I was invited for an interview at the organization. After discussing all the nuances of the upcoming project, I finally made the decision that yes – I really wanted to participate in this exchange!

Then the preparation for my trip began: searching for tickets and signing all the documents. I had participated in Erasmus+ programs before, but all my previous projects were short (no more than 2 weeks) and with a team, usually consisting of 5-7 people. Now, I was going to travel alone to another country for a whole 2 months… I won’t hide it; I was very nervous! Thoughts kept swirling in my head – what if I can’t do it? What if I don’t like it? How will I get there? What if something happens, and I regret agreeing to go? At some point, I caught myself thinking that maybe I had started all this in vain, and I should cancel the trip before it’s too late? But I pushed away those thoughts as much as I could – why am I so afraid? My long-standing dream is about to come true; I need to go!

And so, on the appointed day, I met Kirill, the second volunteer from Rezekne, to embark on this unforgettable journey together – and it truly turned out to be such!

Upon arriving in Yerevan, a young man from the hosting organization “Future in our hands” greeted us at the airport. Hayk took us to our new home in Abovyan (a not very large town 15 kilometres away from Yerevan), and the next morning, we went to get acquainted with the office, our colleagues, and, of course, the capital of Armenia!

Strolling through the cozy streets, impressions overwhelmed me literally from the first seconds – what a big, majestic, and beautiful city! But as soon as I climbed the Cascade – one of the main attractions of Yerevan – I was simply stunned by what I saw! The entire city lay before me, and in the distance, amidst the clouds, Mount Ararat rose majestically! This breathtaking view etched itself into my memory forever!

During our walks in Yerevan, we saw many more beautiful sights over these 2 months: Vernissage – a market of Armenian national souvenirs, Republic Square with singing fountains, the Opera House and much, much more!

But not only in Yerevan and Abovyan did we manage to visit: we travelled to Lake Sevan – the largest lake in the Caucasus with incredibly blue water. We visited the pagan temple Garni, the Geghard Monastery, which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, as well as the Haghartsin Monastery in the wooded valley of the Ijevan Ridge. We also visited Dilijan – a very beautiful city surrounded by mountains and forests!

Thanks to the Armenian organization “Future in our hands,” every day of mine was filled with new emotions and experiences! We took part in the traditional Vardavar festival,  we attended a theatre for a dance performance, and also I participated in an art workshop conducted by a Swedish artist!

But volunteering is not just about leisure and travel; it also involves work. Since most of my work in the organization was in the office, I engaged in tasks familiar to me – creating posters, brochures, and info packs for the organization, allowing me to improve my skills in graphic design program like Canva day by day. I was also taught how to set up advertisements on social media, how to prepare visa applications, and more.

In addition to the paperwork, I helped organize events. For example, during my volunteering period, a 10-day training course took place in Abovyan, where representatives from 12 countries participated. The project aimed to study entrepreneurship, business, and marketing. I not only assisted with organizational aspects, but I also actively participated in the training. Consequently, I gained a lot of valuable knowledge from the speakers, ranging from coming up with and developing a business idea to social media advertising.

And also, twice a week I conducted Russian language classes for FIOH volunteers, where in an informal and friendly atmosphere we communicated with the guys on various topics, played language games and thereby improved their knowledge of the Russian language! As the participants of our language club admitted, literally after the first 2-3 lessons they began to feel much more confident communicating in Russian!

While Armenian volunteers were improving their Russian, I also didn’t stay idle and started learning the Armenian language! It’s such a great feeling when day after day, word after word, I was memorizing and understanding more and more!

My volunteering experience truly turned into an unforgettable adventure! It was filled with pleasant encounters, warm memories, remarkable landmarks, delicious food and amazing music!

Thanks a lot to the organization “World our home” for this opportunity, and of course, to “Future in our hands” for introducing me to Armenia and allowing me to fall in love with this incredible country! Because it was thanks to the people, thanks to my wonderful colleagues – Tigranuhi, Irina, Hayk, and others volunteers I was truly able to enjoy the culture of Armenia and the work there!

Don’t be afraid to embrace something new and unexplored, because it’s true what they say: it’s better to do something and regret it than to regret not doing it at all! ESC projects are an incredible opportunity given to young people, and it would be foolish to miss it! I recommend every young person to participate in such an event at least once!