Tuula Sarkkinen





The thought of going to a work camp came to my mind last spring when I was thinking about my holiday plans. Instead of just travelling I wanted to find out a bit more about another culture and meet new people. My interest in environmental issues was also an important motive for me to apply for this particular work camp. In addition to that I was interested in learning about an NGO in Croatia because I work in an NGO in Finland. I had some previous experience in voluntary work but this was the first time on a work camp like this.

Activities at Suncokret

In Gvozd our days were filled with different kind of activities. In the mornings we did some physical work – most of the time along with local children. Our tasks included for example fixing things at Suncokret for the coming volunteer’s fair, cleaning the well and helping out at the new volunteer’s centre. In the afternoons we organized different activities for the children, for example dance classes and games. Tomato was probably the most liked game although on our second week chickens, foxes and snakes became very popular too. We also had language classes in different languages: Italian, Spanish and Finnish. Children gave us a lesson in Croatian in return and they did a very good job! I have to admire their imagination with all the methods they used and patience with us students. Hvala lijepa!

The House

The time we did not spend at Suncokret we mostly spent at the house where the five of us lived together. Although the house was the place for free time there was also some work to be done at the house. Every day we had a kitchen team that was in charge of cooking meals for the rest of the volunteer team. Thanks to Croatian hospitability we were able to cook nice meals from all the ingredients donated to us.

Ready for Some Karaoke?

Apart from food music was another important part describing our life at the house. On our second week we did not only listen to music – we also practised a song for the karaoke evening. We wanted to sing in Croatian and Zlatne Godine seemed like the perfect song for us. On the karaoke evening we saw great performances by local children and finally it was our turn to get on the stage. Since our song was not in the karaoke program we had a guitarist and a pianist to keep us in tune. I felt a little nervous when we got on the stage but the audience supported us by singing along and clapping their hands. That was great.

And It Is Time to Say Goodbye

Two weeks in Gvozd went really fast. In that time it was possible just to scracth a little bit of surface, about Gvozd, about children, about Suncokret. However I am very impressed by what I have seen. Suncokret does focused and important work in the community, especially with children and youth. It was great to see how children are involved in taking care of their own surroundings. Of these two weeks I will remember all the people I met during my stay; welcoming children and other locals, friendly staff at Suncokret and all the other volunteers. As a conclusion the decision of spending part of my holiday in a work camp was a good one. It was probably the best holiday experience I could have had.