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When the sun came out to play...

Hey beautiful people,

This winter went by so quickly that we didn't have time to write, but now that the spring is here and the sun is shining again we are back to tell you about our adventures in Lisbon.

So five months have passed since me and Eszter arrived to Portugal and I think I'm speaking for both of us when I say that we have simply fallen in love with this country. I could write about so many things like all the amazing people we have met here and all the great places we have seen, but I feel this is almost enough material for a wee book so I will just start with the most important. :)

In October, we started our own little project called the No Hate Ninja Project which is part of the No Hate Speech Movement, which is the European Campaign of Young People for Human Rights Online. The No Hate Ninja Project is a collaboration of the Portuguese Network of Young People for Gender Equality and the organization PAR - Social Answers.

The idea is to fight hate speech - online or offline - with different actions and available means
like art, humour and love speech!

You can check Ninja's work here and here. And you can follow us on Twitter : https://twitter.com/NoHateNinjas


Last month, for example, we organized a dancing flashmob on the Lisbon's main square - the Praça do Comércio. The idea was that everybody danced to their own music and to their own rythm, because we are all different and that makes the world beautiful! We ended up dancing non-stop over an hour and even then we didn’t want to stop.

With love,
Eszter and Liina

To volunteer or not to volunteer?

As we all have noticed, the world is in crisis. There aren’t enough jobs for everyone, especially for the young and inexperienced. The big question is how can we, the young, get an experience when no one is hiring us because we don't have any experinece?

On the one hand, our generation is very lucky. We have opportunities which our parents couldn’t even dream about. We can travel the world and we can work in almost everywhere we want to. On the other hand, we have so many choices that sometimes it can be very confusing and overwhelming. My mother, for example, couldn't leave Estonia until she was over 30. Until now, she has maybe visited five different countries, same goes for my grandparents. Usually they hear about the world and its diversity from me. My grandmother always asks from me: "But don't you like Estonia? Why do you want to work somewhere else? But we were fighting for your freedom and now you are leaving?".

I don’t always know what to answer; it is hard to explain the need to see the world to someone who has never travelled. The same happens when they ask what I want to do in the future. The thing is that when they grew up there were maybe five different professions, nowadays you can invent your own profession. So in a messy world like this with all the freedom and all those opportunities, how are we supposed to know what we want to do and where we want to do it.

So here is something we, young people with or without experince, can do. We can volunteer and the good chance for this is the European Voluntary Service (EVS). I don’t know if we should call it excactly volunteering, but that is the name of the project so I will stick with it. Basically the EU is paying for it and instead of working for free, you receive a monthly salary which is big enough to survive and small enough so you have to count your pennies at the end of the month. But this doesn’t matter, because for most of us it might be the first step to get the experience we need for our future and this can’t be measured in money.

The other thing about volunteering is that you can actually do what you like and that makes the work very enjoyable. I also think it is almost addictive and here is why..

Last weekend I attended the Festival Imigrarte which was organized by the Association for the Defense of Immigrants’ Rights and the goal was to promote the interculturality and citizenship in Portugal. I found out that they are looking for volunteers, so I participated as a volunteer in the security team. As I got to the Festival, I met my team and found out that all six of them were also doing their EVS in Lisbon and most of the other volunteers in the festival were EVS people. I started to ask them how did they find out about this and they all answered that they just saw on the Internet that the Festival needs volunteers and wanted to do something at the weekend, so there they were. It is pretty impressive if you think that all these people are already volunteering from Monday to Friday and you would think that with their weekends, they want to do something else, but no, they want to do more voluntary work.

With so many inspired and enthusiastic young people out there, the world can’t be all bad. I read from somewhere that the youth’s task is to make history in the future and the task of the young people in the 21st century is to transform the society for the good of humanity. With the world changing so fast, our values and beliefs are changing even faster. So maybe our generation is not about the values like getting married, having kids, a house and a dog, maybe our generation is about different values like ending racism and homophobia, fighting for women's rights or just trying to make a little change somewhere through voluntary work. If not, I believe, it is still a good start for a better world.


To be honest, sometimes I don’t even know how I got here, but as they say, if you know where you are, you are probably in the wrong place. Anyway for me, this year was a series of unfortunate events, so when I finally graduated university in June, I felt pretty lost. I had no idea what to do next, but at the same time I wanted to go everywhere and do everything. So I was applying for a New-Zealand visa at the same time as going through the EVS database on the Internet. I wrote more than 40 emails to different organizations and the first lesson I learned was that although there are so many organizations all over the Europe, it is not so easy to find a host organization, which is actually looking for a volunteer.

As I was about to give up, I found a sending organization ESTyes and that is probably the reason I am here. Inga, the lady from ESTyes, was so nice and helpful - she added me to the list, where you can get news about organizations which are looking for a volunteer. So in one day, I got two emails from two organizations, one was from Switzerland and one from Portugal. I decided to apply for both of them and pretty soon I got an answer that I can go do my EVS either in Switzerland or in Portugal. It all happened so fast that first I didn’t really believe it myself. I chose Portugal, not because of the good weather, but because I really liked the idea of working for women’s rights and gender equality.

Now I’m here in Lisbon and somehow I’ve been here for a month, although sometimes it feels like I’ve always lived here. Maybe it is because Lisbon is really cozy and feels like home. There are lots of hills, so you can go up and down, up and down, no need to go to the gym and there are those little yellow and red trams, which pass by from our window and a big red bridge, which we can also see from our balcony. So far, so good. J

view from our balcony
Até logo,
Liina (a new EVS volunteer)

My first impressions in Lisbon

Istanbul was  so snowy when i left it. Many flights have been canceled, furthermore many offices, workplaces have been closed because of the cold weather. I was so lucky, my flight wasn´t canceled. So i got on plane in that cold and freezing weather. After 5 hours flight, I was here, in sunny Lisbon. 
My first impression was the sunny weather in Lisbon. With the energy that sun gave me, I was ready to start my awesome EVS adventure :)

Then I met Nora and Marta. Nora is from Hungary and the employee in Portuguese Platform for Women’s Rights (PpDM) which is my hosting organization. Marta is from Spain and working as a volunteer in PpDM. The next day I also met Sasha, we were accepted by PpDM at the same time, for the same project. Then I felt/still feeling so lucky to work with lovely, helpful and pretty women. 
After I placed my luggage and settled in my room, I took a walk in the city. I realized that Lisbon is so similar to Istanbul. 

1) Lisbon is city of seven hills like Istanbul. But I am sure I noticed more than seven hills in Lisbon as I noticed in Istanbul. 


My name is Sasha Tarkhanova and i am a volunteer in Portuguese Platform for Women´s Rights in Lisbon. 
Me and my friend Zeynep decided to have this blog to share our EVS experience from the beginning till the end, so I will start with the very beginning! This post is going to be long and boring, but hopefully helpful if you are interested in doing EVS.
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