THIS YEAR, foreign volunteers helped renew and save monuments such as Bojnice Castle, the Veľký Šariš and Čierny Hrad ruins, and the calvaries in Bratislava and Banská Štiavnica. From June to September, there were 15 international camps in Slovakia in which 129 young people from all over the world participated, the SITA newswire wrote.
“If we expressed in numbers the contribution that foreign volunteers in Slovakia have made over the last 15 years, their work would would be worth more than Sk7.5 million (€250,000),” said Barbara Briedová of INEX Slovakia, a non-governmental and non-profit association.
During the 15 years, more than 3,000 volunteers from all over the world have visited Slovakia in 236 international camps for volunteers organised by INEX Slovakia. Though the importance of volunteering is not fully appreciated in Slovakia, Briedová said, foreign interest in such camps has not declined. Most of the volunteers come from Europe, though there’s been a rise in the number of volunteers from Asia, especially South Korea and Japan.
The camps are attended by young people aged 18 to 30.
“2008 was exceptional, as we managed to organise two special camps – one for teenagers between 15 and 18 and another for whole families from abroad,” Briedová said.
Teenagers got the chance to spend part of their holidays on a deserted island near Bratislava and to help preserve it for nesting birds.
Families including children visited the village of Motyčky, near Banská Bystrica, where they helped repair the marking of tourist and hiking paths and cycling routes.
The main idea of the camps is to offer a non-financial reward for the help rendered. Over the course of two weeks, young people live in an inter-cultural environment and communicate in English.
Moreover, they have to take care of themselves and their camp by cleaning, cooking and organising group activities.