Uz redzēšanos, Arrivederci, Adiós or See you again: The work camp participants have returned to their home countries. But after these two weeks they agreed that it shouldn’t be a forever farewell. “It was a great team. There is still a lively exchange in the WhatsApp group. We are currently arranging a date for a Zoom exchange,” says Svitlana Eiteljorge. She was responsible for the organization of this work camp.

Even now, two weeks after the departure, she is receiving messages from the volunteers. One says: “My thoughts are still in Germany. It’s difficult to return to everyday life after this wonderful time.“ Some have even sacrificed their vacation for this project.

Svitlana Eiteljorge is pleased that the Verbund Sozialer Dienste (VSD) managed to connect the nations with this project: “They were like one big family. I met young, active people, they were hardworking and determined. I am sure they will achieve a lot in life.”

From the beginning, she perceived the group as very motivated. The 16 young women and men were here to fill the gaps in the tower of Wittlage Castle. “Their work performance was excellent,” praises the project coordinator. The participants are proud that they have left a visible mark here.

Despite all the work, there was enough time to get to know the region. Their quarters were in Haus Sonnenwinkel on the Essenerberg. According to Svitlana Eiteljorge, they were often out in nature. They really liked Osnabrück. On the weekends some went on trips to Bremen, Münster or Hannover.

But they also discovered a lot of positive things in Bad Essen. They were impressed by the youth club and its leisure activities, by the numerous vegetarian and vegan products in German supermarkets and by the Easter fire tradition. The international group was even invited to set up the Easter fire in Lintorf. The contact came about through Carl Potting. One evening he invited the group to table tennis training at VfL Lintorf.

But Svitlana Eiteljorge is not only grateful to him: “They ate a lot because they were so hardworking. We therefore had to reorder a few times. Rebional made this possible spontaneously.” The European voluntary service workers who she normally looks after also got actively involved. “And of course caretaker Andreas and work teacher Thomas,” adds the 34-year-old. Caretaker Andreas was a great help with the work in the tower, and with the work educator Thomas Schneider, each guest made a wooden game that they could take home with them. There are also other colleagues who played a role in the background in preparing the work camp.

It was the second work camp for the VSD after 2022. At that time, Svitlana Eiteljorge was not yet involved. How does she rate her first work camp? “It took a lot of work, but the work was worth it. I learned a lot about the other cultures and the sights in the countries. This knowledge is not in any book. It broadens your own horizons.” It was a great experience to see that so many different cultures harmonize so well with each other. The feedback from the participants proves that the work was worth it. “I had a lot of fun, learned a lot and met the most wonderful people. You looked after and provided us with great care. Thank you for this unforgettable opportunity,” writes Elza (23) from Latvia, for example.

In any case, the 2024 work camp will not be the last: “I think projects like this are good. Even within the EU there are huge differences. That’s why I’m pleased that the young people are looking for this exchange or these contacts.“ Well, there’s still enough work to be done in the tower despite the two busy weeks…

Further informations:
The 16 participants in the work camp live in the following countries: Italy, Portugal, Spain, Latvia, Romania, Moldova, Germany and France. The three volunteers who live in Germany originally come from Turkey, China and Sudan. The work camp ran from March 18th to 31st.

The European Solidarity Corps is the name of the program through which the project is supported with EU funding. The basic idea: Projects in Europe benefit from the work of volunteers. In return, young adults have the opportunity to network with each other and with local people, get to know other cultures and expand their personal horizons.

As a provider of child and youth welfare, the VSD sees itself as having the opportunity to carry out projects in the European Voluntary Service and its responsibility to make a contribution to an open, democratic and tolerant Europe. With the diverse activities in the Erasmus+ program, we would like to send a clear signal for a Europe of solidarity and against intolerance, discrimination and inequality of opportunity. This work camp is an example of that.