How do you recognize international volunteer in Gvozd? Well, we’re a colorful team. yellow and blue spots, pink bruises. some greenery after cleaning the lake. – laughs Lauren, looking at her hands and legs.
And always full of mayonnaise! – adds Patrick, spreading his sandwich. – Rambo, can you pass me some juice?

We are enjoying lunch in the Alan Ford room, tired after painting the bridge over the Trepcza river. There are nine of us; Lauren from England, Chiara from Italy, Elena from Spain, Patrick from Canada, Teis from Belgium, Ramazan from Turkey, Sara and Johanna from Sweden, and me – Hania – from Poland. It’s one of our first days in Gvozd.

Hey, Macarena!

How does a typical volunteer day look like? In the morning we do community work. We cleaned the Redfish lake, we painted the bridge over Trepcza and the fence at the playground. Volunteer team also made SUNCOKRET center more colorful.

Now we are all looking like big Smurphs – laughs Patrick, covering wall in computer room blue. Indeed, new color of computer room really seems like those small creatures. Thanks to famous artist, Roland Gambiroza from Zagreb, great Lucky Luke cartoon appeared in the hall.
Gambi also drew caricatures of all volunteers. Most of us weren’t very satisfied with these images.

- Come on, I don’t look like that ! – convinces us Patrick.

However, kids had no difficulties with recognizing volunteers in the pictures.
In the afternoons we play with kids and organize for them different workshops. Youngsters are very friendly and cheerful, they enjoy having fun with us. Although most of us don’t speak Croatian, we can communicate with kids easily as many know English very well. They have different interests; while many boys like playing football with Patrick, others prefer computer games. Chiara shows girls some dances from Italy. However, the most popular dance for the small and the big is still. Macarena!
- Macarena is the best ! – says Christina, 12. She participates in dance classes everyday and enjoys it a lot. – It’s excellent. I can’t wait for the next class! – she adds.
We also organized Scavenger Hunt for treasure. Kids had to find some magic places in Gvozd, where volunteers asked them to do various tasks.

- The worst was that terrible mixture that we had to eat in supermarket . Bleeah! – says Tony, representant of RED MEN team. He wasn’t the only one who found that task difficult. – It’s a real poison! – comments his crew.
The ” horrible mixture ” was in fact mayonnaise mixed with baby food.
- It isn’t so bad. We should make them eat cat food ! – suggests Patrick. However, most of volunteers don’t agree with his idea.
- I don’t want to pay for the kids’ doctor ! – argues Lauren. Instead, participants had to sit on frozen fish, do some crosswords and anagrams.
Every team was rewarded with sweets.

Work and fun

But work camp in Gvozd does not mean only work. On the contrary, we had a lot of fun. No sikiriki ! We visited thermal baths in Topusko and a national park Plitvička Jezera. We also had opportunity to attend folk festival and admire great performance of dance group from Gvozd.
Tijs became international star of the festival as he played a few songs with his bagpipe. After the festival, we had a great dinner with folk performers.We also learnt different kind of Croatian music – on the last day of the work-camp the DOWNFALL rock band from Rijeka played in SUNCOKRET. – More, more, more ! – we shouted after the last song. We didn’t want the concert and the work-camp to end.
The two weeks we spent in Gvozd passed very quickly; everybody wanted to stay in Croatia even a few days more. However, our memories will stay with us. We will always remember kindness of people, fun with kids and the great moments we spent together.
I am pretty sure that sooner or later we all will meet in Gvozd again!