Evelina attended the national volunteering programme „Youth Voluntary Service“ and she was volunteering in the organisation „Helping Hand“ in Kaunas (Lithuania) for three and a half months.
Evelina is coping with cerebral palsy since childhood and her mother Inga Loreta Lipciute is always looking for the most appropriate ways to help her daughter to live a most meaningful and independent life.
Thanks to her motivation and thanks to her strong will, Evelina succeeded in graduating from high school.
Unfortunately, after finishing school, she was not successful in finding a job.
“It was hard to see how she spent her days at home,” – says the mother. Family life changed dramatically for the better only a few months ago, when Evelina discovered the satisfaction-potential of volunteering in an NGO.
Her mother claims that the greatest happiness is to see her daughter waking up with glowing eyes every morning – she would be even willing to pay for it herself. Volunteering means for Evelina: discovering a lot about herself, being involved in meaningful activities and having a possibility to offer her time and competences to help others.
Helping her daughter to find an activity
Evelina grew up without a father. Her mother Inga Loreta Lipciute raised her alone, but she isn’t complaining. “All the time there were the two of us, we tried to go through life, fight. Although it was difficult – Evelina managed to finish school. For me, as a mother, it is very important that the life of my daughter would be meaningful” – said Evelyn’s mother.
After graduation, Evelina couldn’t find any matching professional activity. Her mother was honest and stated – “There were offers, for example, starting a vocational training in cooking. But Evelina’s condition wasn’t good enough – it is almost impossible for a person with cerebral palsy to have such an activity. So for some time Evelina was staying at home, just watching TV. It was very difficult to see how unhappy she became”.
Inga was very much concerned about the fact that our society is not very tolerant towards people with disabilities. “There is a cliché that people with disabilities are useless – that they cannot do anything, but I think that is completely untrue. I think that they can work, but that any expectations have to take into account their specific needs and competences. Considering this, it is almost pointless to mention the importance of the concerned persons’ self-esteem”.
The discovery of volunteering opportunities
By chance Evelina’s mother got to know about the projects run by the “Youth Voluntary Service”-organisation called “Helping Hand”.
“I can only say – it was like a great gift!” – says Inga Loreta Lipciute with enthusiasm.
“I got a call from a “Helping Hand” staff member; she asked if Evelina could join them. Without any hesitation I said yes” – says Inga. She is happy because her daughter is enthusiastic about her volunteering activities and is gaining in autonomy.
“Currently Evelina is sorting donated clothes for families in need, together with a team of other volunteers. She is also participating in other activities like seminars or interacting with disadvantaged people. But the most important of all is that Evelina experiences joy and self-fulfillment.” – says her mother.
“Any parent wants to see their children be happy with their life. Programmes, such as “Youth Voluntary Service”, offer appropriate opportunities for young people with specific needs. These projects help them to participate in social life and to actively contribute to the wellbeing of others. Living such an experience allows them to become aware of their own skills and competences.” – says Inga. In addition to this, Inga hopes that the offers of youth volunteering projects will be increased in numbers and in diversity.
Evelina Lipciute, 26, Kaunas (Lithuania)