We pass by homeless people every day, but don’t really notice them. However, there are more than 1 thousand people without their own roof in Kaunas city. Some of them find comfort in Kaunas Archdiocese Caritas day centre “Ateik ir sušilk“. Volunteer from Turkey – Musa Hüseyinli joined the team few months ago. He meets the people of the center every day and organizes various activities for them.
Complicated everyday life
Musa arrived to Lithuania in the beginning of November. When Azerbaijan-born volunteer graduated school of journalism in Turkey, he started to look for volunteering opportunities in Europe. Musa found the website which connects future volunteers to hosting organizations. That’s how he met Marija, coordinator of the Volunteer Center which is part of non-governmental organization “Actio Catholica Patria”. Marija suggested Musa picking one of the volunteering projects in Kaunas. So he started to volunteer in the center for homeless people. “At first I was afraid that it will be really difficult. My English is not very good and I have never volunteered in long term projects”, he admitted. However, arrival to Kaunas turned out to be really good experience.
The day center in which Musa is volunteering, invites people who are experiencing social isolation, to come and spend some time together. Social workers also help them to integrate in society by improving their social and professional skills. “Many different people visit us every day. The issues that we have to deal with are not only homelessness, but also negative people attitude to ex-prisoners. Some people lost their home, because they couldn’t manage to integrate in society when they left the correctional facility”, he told. However, with the help of social workers and volunteers, some center visitors managed to change their lifestyle and got a job. Musa explains that though it’s hard to fight the myths of society, it’s even harder to deal with their own believes. “Visitors of our center often think that they just can’t live a normal life, find a job, have a family. We try to encourage them to change their minds”, Musa said.
Language is not an obstacle
Musa is glad that he and most of the center visitors became friends. Even though some elder people don’t speak English, it’s not an obstacle. Social workers and younger visitors of the center help a lot. “Some time we don’t even need the words, it’s enough to be together”, believes Musa. He organizes various activities in the center. For example, one day per week everybody is doing craft works, Wednesdays are usually movie days. Sometimes everybody just travels to the Kaunas Zoo Park and provides volunteering work. Musa also invited social workers and center visitors to the Kaunas Ebru art studio few months ago. Here everybody just relaxed and made beautiful art pieces. Musa also organizes chest tournaments in the center, and sometimes everybody just play board games. Musa also started interesting project – he collects the stories of homeless people and shares them on center’s Facebook page. The stories are completely different and touching. Some people became homeless because of alcohol; others suffered manipulations of closest relatives, faced betrayals. It’s hard to realize that almost all of them lived completely normal lives before.
Interesting fact is that Musa came to Lithuania barely speaking English. However, he managed to learn the language in a really short time. “We have different language learning system back in Turkey. Although we learn English at school and university, we don’t focus that much on practicing”, he told. However, when Musa arrived to Kaunas he had to speak English more, because visitors of the day center don’t understand Turkish. “My roommates from Spain and Ukraine also helped me to learn”, he smiled.
Musa hopes that after finishing volunteering services, he can find the job in Lithuania. This country left him a good impression. “I hope that we will change people’s attitude towards homelessness. I believe in a second chance”, he said.
AGH-85 Litvanya (Musa Hüseyinli)