“We can fill our hearts with love and happiness only by loving and making someone else happy,” wrote Hristina Trifunovska and Arton Murati, both 2010 alumni of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program in explaining their motivation for the project “The Kids Are Our Future: Improving the Conditions of Our Local Kindergarten,” which the pair completed last week with the help of local volunteers, donations from their classmates, and a small grant from American Councils.
Trifunovska and Murati, both from Resen, Macedonia, visited their local kindergarten earlier this year and decided that they needed to help improve the conditions there. Through observation and conversations with staff, Trifunovska and Murati determined that the greatest needs were toys, educational materials, and new bed sheets. The pair used small grant funds to purchase the educational materials and bed sheets, recieving a 10% discount on the latter from a supportive local retailer. They obtained toys by conducting a toy drive in their high school.
Trifunovska and Murati were joined by seven of their classmates, Mile Stojkovski, Toni Nikolovski, Beti Grozdanovska, Maja Dimitrievska, Kristina Andonovska, Milena Kaleskovska and Marija Bockarovska in delivering the sheets, educational materials and toys to the kindergarten. They also brought snacks to share with the children.
All of the volunteers visited each of the five groups of children, which were divided by age. They played with the children and taught them words for colors, numbers and animals. “At the beginning there were some kids that were shy, but by the end we all became their new friends,” Trifunovska explained. At the end of the day, as they were serving snacks, the volunteers were struck by one of the teacher’s reactions to the day: “Today is really like a holiday for the kids. We have never gotten any help from other organizations and we have never seen the kids as happy as they are today.”
Not only did the children have a good time, but so did the volunteers. “I’d definitely do something like this in the future, because it doesn’t cost anything when it’s compared to the happy faces we saw today,” explained volunteer Mile Stojkovski. Trifunovska and Murati’s reaction? “A little can mean a lot when it’s made by heart! It is impossible to describe with words that feeling and the atmosphere that existed in the kindergarten and it’s plain amazing to hear everyone that participated in the event repeating some of the many good stories over and over again!”
A journalist from the Resen municipality attended the event and reported on the project with an article on www.prespanews.com.
Trifunovska and Murati would like to thank their school, Car Samoil, Resen, and all of the community for their help and support.