We are happy to share the story of Bashak Sarah Yoney, who was a short-term ESC volunteer in Croatia this autumn (2023), part of the project “Green Fingers” of our partner organisation Udruga O.A.ZA. – Odr?iva Alternativa ZAjednici. The project is financed under the European Solidarity Corps program.


Ever since I’ve known myself, I’ve always felt deeply upset about all the bad and unjust in the world, and truly appreciated every single kind act.

With the guidance of these feelings I’ve had, I decided I wanted to do volunteering to give back to the society and to earth.

After I graduated college, I started looking for volunteering opportunities, both in my home country and abroad. In the process, I remembered about European Solidarity Corps, of which I learnt about thanks to a youth exchange I did previously. At that moment I realized this could be the perfect chance for me.

On European Youth Portal, while looking through volunteering opportunities, I came across Green Fingers, and I was instantly captivated! I’ve always been someone who not only appreciates, but also tries to nurture, protect, and connect with mother nature. So, I applied and heard back from Jasmina soon. After we got in contact we scheduled an interview, where Jasmina interviewed me and helped me with all my questions and concerns regarding the project. She also put me in contact with a sending organization since I didn’t have one (shoutout to Natalie as well, she was the best person I could ask for in a supporting organization!). With all the arrangements finished, I was ready for my journey!

After my bus ride, I arrived at Zagreb, where Jasmina picked me up and took me to our hostel, the accommodation. When I went there, all the other volunteers were outside since they arrived a day earlier than me and started exploring the city already! Realizing they’d already made friends with each other, I couldn’t help but feeling anxious: I was scared I couldn’t be friends with them, or that I’d miss my home, friends, and family. However, after I woke up from my nap, they were back at the hostel, and as soon as I met them, I realized I wouldn’t be too lonely. They were all very friendly and welcoming: they even made grocery shopping from the first day, and started cooking and eating meals together 🙂

Within less than a week, we started being friends as a group. Of course, not all of us got along with each other instantly, but over time, we discovered all the amazing sides of each other that made us unique, and we all became this crowded family! In the meantime, the activities and work started as well. We were so surprised and happy when we saw the office for the first time: it was in the middle of Zagreb, with a beautiful terrace, and over a hundred plants!

Soon we started working in school gardens. At first, we were focusing on the maintenance of the gardens, while also learning about the tools and plants. Additionally, since it was Day of European Languages shortly after we arrived, Mile thought it would be a nice idea to prepare a workshop for the students at the schools about our languages and cultures. Just like that, we begin preparing and executing workshops for the kids as well. In this first workshop we planned, we played games with the kids which were revolving around the kids guessing things about our cultures, and then proceeded with teaching them basic phrases and words in our languages. It was very encouraging and sweet to see them engage in the workshops and be interested about our cultures and languages.

Throughout our project we went to four different primary schools, in which we did our gardening activities and workshops. In one of the schools, we planted new flowers and little trees, while in another we were building composter boxes or raised beds out of wood. In one we were working with the children, while in others we were alone, focusing on the job we were doing. I must say, those times even felt like meditation: I would give all my attention, focus and care to the plant I was working with, and would have the chance to let go of my thoughts.

I learnt a lot during the time I spent in Zagreb. I learnt about gardening, about the types of plants, about how to care for them, how nature works and what it needs. While building in the gardens, I learnt how to use a drill and a hammer. I learnt how to have a good time with a group of kids, and what’s the best way to communicate with them in a healthy way. I learnt about Croatian language and culture, about their food and habits, and about Zagreb.

Furthermore, I learnt how to better work in a team. How to organize, take responsibility, participate in civil life, be more open minded, take initiative, be patient, and much, much more…

But there was one thing I learnt, which I could not have learnt anywhere else: I learnt how a random group of young people, from different ages and countries, could become family ?

Hvala to my family away from home and to green fingers for teaching me so much, and helping me on my journey to discover who I truly am 🙂

Can’t wait to see you again someday…

Bashak Sarah Yoney

 Posted by Natalie at 15:48

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.