Mariana Martins

It works a bit like that quote in the Little Prince: “those who pass by us, do not go alone, and do not leaves us alone; they leave a bit of themselves, and take a little of us”. And then there are others. These are the ones I call friends and without a doubt will always be home.

Itaca EVS Volunteer

We Stick Out Project

When I look out of the windows of my house I don’t see Pordenone anymore. I know there’s absolutely no chance of hearing flamenco on Saturday mornings or finding for dinner vegetables cooked with a Chinese touch… for a French girl. I don’t have to make salads in the morning and go for long walks accompanying someone. I can still drink Italian coffee but nobody appreciates it the same way I do. My volunteer experience with Itaca, in Casa Ricchieri, a therapeutically community who guests residents with mental disturbs, came to an end very recently. I’ve been asked many times if I recommend this kind of experience. My answer is always yes. The truth is that there was not a single moment in which I’ve thought of returning home.

I jumped at this opportunity, without thinking a lot, just wanting to do something outside of my field of studies. I wanted to do something diverse. Volunteering in Casa Ricchieri was like exploring a new world. I knew absolutely nothing and by nothing I really mean nothing. The thought of a therapeutically community on this field or this network of services across the territory never crossed my mind until I arrived in Italy. I also didn’t know the language and it doesn’t matter if they have the same origin, it’s a different one. Nevertheless, I think that knowing anything was the best instrument to be always learning, because it kept me alert.

But the most important were the persons. I’ve learned a lot with the stories of the residents of the community, whether they were real or not – in any case you learn – and with a team who does the best it can to help its residents achieve something that can be called well-being, trying to get them to become more autonomous. It’s such a difficult job! To an outsider who just comes one day and looks around their work must look like a miracle search. But the beautiful thing is that if you stick around, you just learn how to change happens step by step and you learn to appreciate every little things. Even those, especially those, deserve a “bravo”: I’ve learned a lot with this team, made of so personalities so diverse, but with a common goal. I don’t think they will ever know how much they are able to teach to newcomers like I was.

In this year I’ve also learned that Italy is much more diverse than what I had anticipated. They are not so united as I used to think and they speak, other than the Italian language, a big amount of dialects. The type of personality also changes with the geographical regions – I didn’t need more than one or two days more south to realize it. The northern is not the typical Italian one imagines from the common stereotypes. But, like I expected, it’s a beautiful country, with great food. This sve gave the opportunity to travel a bit. I got to know some of the major cities – Rome, Napoli, Milano, Bologna, Florence, Venice, Trieste, Padova,Verona – and some beautiful little “paesi” in this green region that is Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, with the most beautiful mountains one can imagine. The money was not that much but I even got to see a bit of Croatia and Slovenia. And then there was Pordenone – which doesn’t seem the liveliest small city in the world – that surprised me with several events of music and cinema, with different kinds of markets and reasons to be out.

Above all, and here I return again to the same business – but what can I do? – , I got to know persons. Several of different nationalities, consequently, cultures, through this group called Pordenone International and in the two formations I did with volunteers doing their service on Italy, coming from all the corners of Europe (and behond). I’ve met Italians, who helped me to get to know Italy and Pordenone, without even asking. I got to live with some great persons – from Portugal, Spain and France – that made me feel at home each time I opened the door of the apartment.

I’m realistic so I have no problems stating that out of this many persons, I will not keep in touch with several and if I’m lucky enough we’ll just meet somewhere, probably by chance. It doesn’t matter because what they gave will always be with me. It works a bit like that quote in the Little Prince: “those who pass by us, do not go alone, and do not leaves us alone; they leave a bit of themselves, and take a little of us”. And then there are others. These are the ones I call friends and without a doubt will always be home.


We Stick Out Project

The “Casa Ricchieri” Community in Pordenone, via Ricchieri nr. 2, is a residential community in the mental health sector which employs 9 workers and offers a residential and social-rehabilitation service for people with psychiatric problems.

The activities of the project “We stick out” are related to:

  • Support to the guests: the volunteer will support the guests of the house to reach a self government of their lives and to realize different creative activities. The volunteer will motivate them during their daily activities according to their needs and skills (like making beds, cooking, going out for some shop), and support them to participate to recreation activities (like going out for a cup of coffee or to the cinema) or basic training.
  • Music workshop: listening to national and international music, afterwards sharing emotions, feelings and memories that might be inspired by the notes or the musical texts.
  • Computer workshop: learning the basic computer activities and the ability to connect to the web platforms.

The volunteers will be placed in a work group of experienced professionals who are constantly supervised by a coordinator.