Doing Things Our Own Way

Day 179 – Following the Gregorian and Julian calendars, Christmas and New Year are celebrated twice in Moldova. While most of the volunteers left to enjoy the winter holidays with their families, I decided to support the headline that appeared on my screen in the morning, “A fifth of Czechs spend their holidays away from home”. And currently, I am in a country where Christmas is not officially celebrated at all.

I am sending you greetings from Istanbul, where instead of Christmas carols I listen to ezan (call for Muslims to pray), where I changed Christmas cookies for baklava and kaymak with honey and where I was eating yesterday (Czechs are celebrating Christmas on 24th December) olives at the same time as a schnitzel.

Because…why not 🙃 ?

Enjoy your time wherever you are!

Let’s Try Not to Be Heroes

Day 158 – In the south of Turkey watching small Syrian boys running around the beach every day – my friend from Germany: “Do you think that their parents are taking them regularly to school?”

Me: “Do you think they have parents?”

A lot of things have happened in my life so far and all the situations started to escalate when I left my “bubble” and started traveling. Thanks to that, I met an incredible number of new people from all over the world, listened to all possible stories, problems and thus often became a direct part of situations that would perhaps be better not to experience. The worst of all is that I can’t really talk about most of them. I somehow keep all the stories inside of me and sometimes I incorporate them into photographs, drawings or give them a more specific form in the form of words written on paper, which I then throw away over time anyway.

“I don‘t know my father. I grew up with my mother and her girlfriend who often beat me.”

“I had a problem with a food intake and I still don’t believe myself enough.”

“I don’t have anyone anymore.”

“All my life there is a bag with basic things ready next to me, because I often have to run away from home. All I want is silence and peace.”

“I don‘t fit into a group of heterosexuals.”

“Everyone around me is excited about planning my wedding. I don’t feel like that at all and nobody is listening to me. I’m going to cancel the wedding.”

“My father is addicted to sex. It has become normal for me that my parents lock me in the room and I wait for my father to satisfy himself. Of course, I often hear everything. Sometimes I even see everything.”

“I can‘t anymore. I’m considering taking medication, but I’m afraid it won’t work and I will wake up anyway.”

“I don‘t have a mother. She had cancer and I took care of her until her last moment.”

“My best friend had a car accident. There is a funeral next week.”

“We’ve heard of suicide. I think you know that person.”

“They took me abroad as a child. After more than ten years they told me I had no documents so they deported me back to my country. But my mother stayed there and she doesn’t care about me anymore.”

None of these “stories” are about refugees, but about young people from different European countries. And no, it’s not a collection of situations from my whole life but just from less than a year.

Don’t judge others. No matter where they come from, how much money they have and what they look like, because we can never know what stories they carry with them and what situations they are currently trying to deal with.

And I definitely don’t think it’s a demonstration of “weakness” to admit that sometimes it’s just too much for us. It’s just sometimes hard to suppress your ego, stop pretending being heroes and just say it out loud. 💪

It Will Be Cold, It Will Be Freezing

Day 144 – The cold period I was most worried about already arrived to Chisinau. ❄️ While last winter I enjoyed the sun and cycling in between ripening orange trees in Portugal, in Moldova I am watching how local drivers enjoy splashing melted snow on pedestrians. My psychical and physical (un)preparedness for this weather is also affected by maximum weight limit of my luggage that I had to pack for the period of 10 months, which was only 24 kilos. I am layering the clothes, I have also traditionally started with crocheting and who knows if I will not start praying here as well so the temperatures don’t drop too deep under the zero.

At work I am involved in the preparations for a Winter Charity Bazaar, which will take place at the beginning of December. As during the Summer School, I am meeting again women and children from groups of refugees and asylum seekers and we are trying to create products that will be available for sale at the bazaar. I train not only creativity, when I try to to create “a lot from a little”, but also my patience and ability to assert and justify my own ideas and opinions. Believe me, it’s not always easy. After all the hard days, I really enjoy the moment when I can just sit alone in the room, listen to the calm jazz music, glue decorative stars on paper and give a final look to our products… Well, all the peace and relax is just until the moment when I have to travel back home by trolleybus again.

However, hurray, because finally I am not the only Czech in the group of volunteers! Jakub arrived a week ago, and you have no idea how amazing it is to receive these kind of messages in the morning: “OMG, I went to work this morning so fast that even those old grandmas outside were walking faster than our trolleybus.” “I have to share my new record with you. In the morning I had to let go three trolleybuses until I was able to get in to a bit empty one.” Ah! 😀

Tiraspol

Day 139A moment ago, my flatmate and I returned from Tiraspol – the capital city of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. Although Transnistria still belongs to Moldova by law, now it’s de facto considered as an “independent” state that is supported by Russia. This territory has its own flag with a hammer and sickle, its own currency which officially doesn’t exist but it’s normally valid and used there, three official languages: Russian, Ukrainian and Moldovan written in Cyrillic, as well as the brand “Sheriff” which owns and controls almost everything. Well, and if you get a migration card at the border, it entitles you to stay for just ten hours.

Given all this information, we expected our day to be all sorts of things, but certainly not what it really was. The conformity of all possible coincidences began already in a marshrutka (minibus), where we met a boy from Tiraspol. He planned to go to Chisinau for the first time in his life, but he forgot his passport at home and so he was returned from the border and appeared in our marshrutka. Briefly said – this boy has become our all-day guide. 

In Tiraspol, we also visited nonprofit organization Apriori, whose activities were supported, among other things, by Czech NGO People in Need. So thanks to all these circumstances, instead of taking pictures of tanks, statues of Lenin and socialist symbols, we spent a great day full of enriching conversations and even playing board games over a cup of delicious coffee…

Sometimes things are simply happening as they should.

A Fairy Tale about Water

Den 126 – In the main roles: Team Dacia 50, NGO ADVIT, plumber Dmitrij, emergency service, owner and his family members, neighbors

Illustration: Oleg Artenii

This story is based (and still continues) on the real situation. Unfortunately.

Saturday – I’m coming home and guys are drying the wet kitchen. They are saying there’s something wrong with a sink. I think they’re kidding. After a while, the water starts to flow out of the sink and I am finding out that this time it wasn’t a joke.

Sunday – At irregular intervals, water comes out of the sink. “It’s normal here”, locals said. We’re waiting for a plumber. He decides to separate the pipe under the sink, plug it with a small plastic cap and said that we probably need some technical engineer. After his departure, the cap flew away under the pressure of water. We dried the whole kitchen again and were changing with a bucket, a pot and a pan on the running water that goes directly to the floor. We’re waiting for the emergency service. An hour. Guys from the emergency service arrived, with the smell of alcohol around them. They said that the pipes are badly made and that they can’t do anything about it. They’re leaving. During that we still can’t believe what is going on around us we started to create a strategic plan, set up an alarm clock for the whole night to watch the water in the kitchen regularly.

Monday – The decision to stay at home turns out to be a very good idea and we started our day by drying the kitchen already in our pyjamas. The water begins to come out again, so in the same time, we were having breakfast, catching and pouring out the water, running to the neighbors and trying to explain them to not use water at all. I was happy to wear my new wellies for the first time. The owner and his brother came. They apologized for the situation and tried to find a solution. However, after a while, we realized that they are more likely to ask us for solutions because they probably don’t know a lot what to do. “For those guys from emergency service you should have offered beer or vodka and they would start working.” We had no idea if it’s a joke, but we felt that there is something weird happening so we decided to don’t laugh this time.

Tuesday – In the morning, the police is ringing at the door, checking if everything is ok for us after reporting the missing flatmate. Boys are staying at home. After returning from work I find that the situation in the flat is the same as in the morning, just there is starting to be more and more mess all around. The flatmates say that the owner tries alternately to solve the situation and drink with our neighbor.

Wednesday – The group of the owner and his brother is growing with another member – their mom came as well. For the rest of the day, the owner decided just to drink with a neighbor.

Thursday – I’m going to work and naively expecting that when I get home, the situation will be solved. Instead of it, I am realizing that all water is stopped in the whole neighborhood because there is also another problem with total sewerage. The owner practices not only his livers but his dictionary of English swearing as well.

Friday – I am staying at home. Surrounded by mess around, with water only in plastic bottles and during the sound of wall drilling I am appreciating the message from my flatmate “Should I bring you a croissant with Nutella or vanilla filling?”

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