Alumni of A-SMYLE and YES Southeast Europe Prep for Global Youth Service Day by Volunteering with Habitat for Humanity

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YES and A-SMYLE alumni use pickaxes to carve out the foundation for a housing unit at Habitat for Humanity Macedonia's latest build site in Veles

YES and A-SMYLE alumni use pickaxes to carve out the foundation for a housing unit at Habitat for Humanity Macedonia’s latest site

Back in March, Habitat for Humanity Macedonia broke ground on a new build in the city of Veles – a three-floor duplex apartment building that will provide 12 low-income families with new apartments.  Alumni of A-SMYLE and YES Southeast Europe spent April 19-21, 2013 working on the site, including carving out the building’s foundation, leveling land, and mixing and spreading cement.

In the evenings, alumni shared stories about community service activities they have been working on throughout the year, discussed plans for Global Youth Service Day, and, with the help of local Peace Corps Volunteers Jamie and Bob Woodford, explored time- and stress-management techniques intended to help them balance community service with the other demands of their often busy everyday lives.

New friendships, like the one displayed here between Beste Basak Balci (YES Turkey) and Arber Dumani (YES Albania), was one of the many positive results that came out of this weekend of volunteering

New friendships, like the one displayed here between Beste Basak Balci (YES Turkey) and Arber Dumani (YES Albania), was one of the many positive results that came out of this weekend of volunteering

“What I liked most about this weekend was working with everybody together, feeling like we’re a team, and then feeling like we’re doing something really great and we’re helping people,” explained Gabriela Veleva, YES Bulgaria ’11, also noting that she loved the physical work itself, “because it’s stress-relieving!”

For alumni like Silan Simsek, YES Turkey ’12 and Olta Myslimi YES Albania ’12, the highlight of the weekend was trying something new and realizing the power of volunteerism.  “I’ve done something for the first time in my life,” reflected Silan, “I love the idea of being a volunteer and helping people without benefits!”  Olta noted that “doing stuff I’ve never done in my life,” such as carving out the foundation for one of the housing units, made her realize “how strong I am!”

The most important part of the weekend for Nino Lojpur, YES Bosnia and Herzegovina ’10, currently serving as his country’s Alumni Coordinator, was “meeting new people and new generations.  It’s really exciting to see more people getting involved in projects.”  Nino also noted that the weekend served as a great tool for getting alumni “pumped up” for even more projects and activities in the future.

Keep an eye out for A-SMYLE and YES alumni doing amazing things in their communities, this Global Youth Service Day (April 26-28) and all year long!

Group Photo

To view more photos from this event, please click here!