The ugly true about Taka Tuka empire 15 octubre, 2014Posted by jmorsa in En English, EVS.
Tags: European Voluntary Service, EVS, Veronika Gaber Korbar, Youthpass
I really don’t know how many times I have started this post.
However until now I have not published anything, not for fear about the things I report here but for my desire of perfectionism, the desire of wanting to do everything in the proper way, without spelling mistakes.
This time I had to wait long until Segundo has my post corrected. Segundo has a lot of work to do and I do not want to bother him with more work.
For all these reasons and because I think that it’s my moral duty to share my experience with other and especially with you my little reader that can be in the same situation. I also need to conclude this chapter; today, at 4:00 am and regretting for my spelling mistakes in advance, I’m going to speak you about my experience in the European Voluntary Service -or EVS to its friends-.
So… let’s go;
A year ago, I made the decision to participate in a european program called Youth in Action that offered the chance of working during a whole year abroad with an organization that after reading my curriculum and my motivation letter shall be responsible for preparing my hosting and training to can help in their daily -I used “help” because as I said earlier it is a voluntary service-.
The country who chose me was Slovenia and the organization was Drutsvo Ustvarjalcev Taka Tuka. Drutsvo Ustvarjalcev Taka Tuka is a non-profit society that works -according its website- for human rights of the rejected people for society through the Drama in Education; a kind of social theater where this people could communicate freely and use the theater as communication vehicle.
The “rejected” people was the deaf children of Zavod za Gluhe in Naglusne -the school for deaf and hard of hearing- but behind these beautiful words and decorations is hidden an ugly true, the society was -and is- not as “non-profit” as it seemed to be, but a really profit-looking company captained by a heartless harpy; Veronika Gaber Korbar.
I recognize in advance that the tasks were not too hard, but the social and environmental practices of Veronika Gaber Korbar and her wrong vision from the very beginning of what European Voluntary Service marred the entire project.
For a newcomer volunteer in a foreign country as me, without a lot of confidence in my English abilities, and also with the premise in advance from Spain that we only had a single opportunity to join this program and we must be prepared and confront the cultural shock, the practices of this organization made my stay a hell.
And my hell on earth was captained for a evil with name Veronika Gaber Korbar, the president of the company (you can’t call it organization or NGO, if your aim is to get money or travels you are not working in a non profite organization but in a normal profit-looking company) didn’t have a clear knowledge about the volunteer, organization, mentors and coordinators roles. She was never flexible or allow a cultural exchange (It’s normal if the altruism never move your acts) and any attempt of cultural exchange with the organization crushes with the rigidity of the pyramidal structure and a rigid system of hierarchy where she was always aware of their position of superiority to the volunteers and colleagues -also with the coordinator program that it is assumed that was her direct line manager-. No opinion was never more valid than her opinion and when we front differences of opinion, her reaction was always bad faces or to remain silent and wait out the time until volunteers should do what she wanted, even with a taste for revenge.
The pyramidal structure was clear. The apex of the pyramid –of course Veronika Gaber Korbar- had to control everything and the conflict resolution hierarchy never worked, because the president was the only one who could give orders or resolve conflicts. The taste of revenge was clear when one day she invites us to leave the project on that same day because she was angry, or when she told me that in a few days I should leave my home without telling where to go or the exact day that I should leave.
I can tell another bad practice when she suggested to host a minor in my house for a whole weekend (I alone finally hosted him) and when Veronika tried to repeat again this situation with more, and I refused to accept, Veronika tried to create in me a sense of guilt, or make me feel guilty for refusing, using sentences as: “I trusted on you”, “It’s good for the children, they want to say with you”, or “I think you are able to handle this situation, but you are not involved”.
But we just don’t had a bad boss, but also a bad landlady, because as part of the gain of money from EVS, the house where I lived was owned by his mother and I felt intimidated and coerced at home because the whole family -and also relatives who were not part of the organization- had keys and they could enter the house without my permission and even modifying and changing things I had at home as the heather or the fridge temperature without asking for permission.
I can illustrate her lack of empathy when I told her about my allergic to pollen and dust and she forced me to cut the grass and clean a storage room where the own Veronika Gaber Korbar didn’t cleaned for years, and even after to show her red spots on my skin produced by the allergic reaction, Veronika answered me that “that´s part of my job”. Also in some moments, I felt insulted by members of the organization and relatives because of some snide remarks or mocking tone, and even derogatory comments in Slovenian thinking that we did not understand the language.
The idea of non-profit organization is distorted when she says that “I need a bank account because taxes were too high and they wouldn’t pay taxes for our pocket money (a little money, 85 euros, from the EVS given monthly to the volunteers in Slovenia)” and even each month, the money for local travel expenses was paid with my money for food, even the cost of credit for a phone that I used only because they could communicate with me, or when every month without exception, if I wanted to receive the money (not paid out of pocket, but money they receive from the European program) I had to send several messages and almost beg to get my income, like it was a personal favor from them to me and not an obligation as host organization.
But the last devilry of Veronika was distorted my Youthpass, a document that I had written each week and even was approved by Irena Zgonc the coordinator (in charge of Youthpass) and I had to demonstrate point by point with pictures, timetables and many other until she finally send more or less my version after 15 months of writing.
As you can see, there were many things that I -or technically we-had to overcome but this is only some examples of the experience lived in one year.
I’m sure that after to read these things you are asking yourself why I didn’t said anything before explode or why I didn’t leave the EVS.
The answer is easy; when you spent two years and a half chasing a dream and finally you got it, but your dream becomes a nightmare it’s not easy to leave it. You remember all the hours of sleep lost filling out forms, translating letters of motivation, trying to reach perfection to be the perfect candidate, when you know that if you leave it you will not have more opportunities like this, or also when you know that if you come back to your country you will have anything because in your house you are an expense more than a joy.
The answer is NO. :¬(
I know that there are a lot of people that is living the dark side of EVS, volunteers replacing a worker, bosses who appropriate the work done by the volunteer, rude forms or even insults thinking that you don’t understand the language, nightmare houses or rooms, agreements that are not fulfilled… everything is not wonderful in EVS as pretend to make us believe the authorities of the youth in action program. For this reason, if you if you’re having a bad volunteer, don’t give up, I and more people than you think understand you, you are not alone.
After of my European Voluntary Service, I spoke with my sending organization about my situation and together we wrote a final report that was also sent to Spanish and Slovenian National agencies –thanks Jerneja for the contacts- which served not only to get my Youthpass but also as a wake-up call to Drutsvo Taka Tuka, that had to justify are this “small things”, this has made them to give up the idea of having more volunteers for a while or at least can serve for the next time be more careful.
Even, and as I have some deaf children in my Facebook, I can see –or I like to believe- that in the new youth exchanges are more deaf children than scoundrels because in the past, there used to be more Veronika’s relatives than deaf children.
So… my year in Slovenia was not only Drutsvo Taka Tuka or Veronika Gaber Korbar. I fulfilled my wish of living abroad, I traveled to many countries -I took a total of 14 planes in a year-; Bucharest, Kiev, Sarajevo…, I met a lot of people of a lot of countries and I hope to visit them someday again in their respective countries, volunteers as Goran, Lissi, Maja, Paula, Edu…, youth friends and children that I took care as Tanja, Tereza, Martin… , amazing stories and especially the fortunate to have found a great Slovenian family that I always will felt –and I feel- as my second family -thanks Alenka-.
Now, I don’t want that with this last paragraph you forget all the bad things. My experience abroad was good, with my experience with Veronika Garber Korbar I cannot say the same -because with other people that I worked was also good -. Her feeling of superiority made an odyssey of all that I lived, but today one year later, it becomes a learning and something that I couldn’t ignore.
As I said, I know that other volunteers had or are having problems, and if I wrote this post is not for frustration or for definitely close this chapter, but because I also read other similar situation in this blog:
For this reason; be brave, fight for your rights and write in a blog or if you want in the commentaries of this post your experience without censorship -anonymously, if you like-, because “all that glitters is not gold” and because the administration always hides this kind of cases, the other side of EVS.
If you’ve finished to read all this post, I only can say; THANKS -and also to Segundo who finally corrected my mistakes, hah-.
So, be happy and see you soon -but in spanish, sorry hah-!