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Everything’s changed, but everything’s still the same
Saturday, 15 June 2013 Written by Domagoj Skledar

Sve se promijenilo, a sve je ostalo istoWhen I left Rwanda five tears ago, I didn’t think I would ever get the chance to once more come to this land of a thousand smiles and countless sad stories. Why I am here is less important – what others are doing is what makes me proud. The first building of the new Secondary School has been completed, and by whom? – first and foremost by my Croats. When I see coats of arms of Zagreb, Ploče, Osijek and Kiseljak on the classroom doors in this small village thousands of kilometres from my homeland, I am overwhelmed by emotions and impressed by the success of what fra Ivica, the hard-headed Bosnian, was able to achieve with the help of good people from all parts of the world.

Volunteering each day here, even after three months, is a new experience; many people come and go; some of them I met long ago, some of them I will never forget. But generally speaking, every volunteer or guest here has his own story. Some of them maybe came to save the dolphins which are certainly not to be found in Rwanda, some of them came to save themselves, but they have all come to help, and that is what is most important.

As I left Zagreb, ending one chapter of my life, I was wondering how, after having everything, I would ever get used to life in which I won’t have anything. It is only now, after several months, that I slowly remember something I learned the last time I was here: If we run after others, we leave ourselves far behind, and it’s not easy to come back to where we left ourselves, by trying to be what others want us to be.

OK, maybe someone will think that I’m writing rubbish and that all of this doesn’t make any sense, but some things shouldn’t make sense... instead they need to be given a try - attempted, experienced - in order to be understood.

How do volunteers spend their days here? Just like at home... that is, you have it just the way you want it. If you try too hard to accomplish a lot, you end up accomplishing nothing. But if you do it with your heart, then even taking small steps will accomplish a lot. Trying to do a lot quickly is, I believe, a beginner’s mistake… made by many who find themselves in Africa for the first time. I personally consider myself lucky, because it’s my second time here and I feel privileged to be among those who are different... different because I haven’t fallen into the trap of great expectations, and I hope that I am succeeding in doing enough not to disappoint my fellow volunteers and the friars as well.

If diversity makes the world interesting and good, the community of volunteers and Franciscans here in Kivumu is a really good mix of people, tempers and customs. It’s hard to name all those who have passed through here, but it’s not hard to single out Katarina, the lovely young lady who sings, Petra, the lady who paints, Bojana, the girl who left, or Dejan, the gentleman who is a pleasant surprise.

Translated by Branimir Mlakić
Edited by Valerie Kae Ken

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