My name is Benedetta, I am 25 years old and come from Aosta, a mountain town in the North-West of Italy.
All my life I have dreamed of living by the sea and in the past years I developed an interest in the field of disability, becoming passionate about inclusive education, and I felt the need to get closer to this world. For these reasons, I decided to leave for Malta and since January 2019 I have lived in the quiet and beautiful Marsaskala as EVS volunteer at Inspire, a Maltese foundation whose aim is to guarantee the rights of equality and inclusion to everyone, by providing individuals with disabilities (Down Syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsy and others) and their families with educational, therapeutic and leisure services.
(Before coming to Malta I had other significant experiences abroad, having the chance to explore new cultures and lifestyles and getting used to move from one place to another. However, to be totally honest, the beginning of my EVS path had not been very easy for me: working in a new field, with a new organization of work, a new approach to disability and always surrounded by other volunteers and specialist staff, made me feel sometimes useless and inadequate and I started questioning about my knowledge and skills.
Even my adaptability to the big number of volunteers, that I consider now as a precious resource, had not been immediate and I found myself disorientated, but stimulated. I guess starting from scratch is never easy, for anyone: opening up to new people and building a relationship of mutual trust requires time and willingness. With the benefit of hindsight, I realize now that all those steps were necessary for me in order to get where I am today. In fact, over time I could be able to overcome my fears and insecurity and started to appreciate everything that this experience is giving me.
Here in Malta I have found a sense of serenity and I feel peaceful. For the first time after years I have a lot of time for myself and feel like I am getting to know myself better, discovering every day something new. Including with regards to the work experience at Inspire, I realize that in these months I have learned a lot and I am aware that the opportunity of working in all the activities offered by Inspire, ranging from Therapeutic Horseback Riding, working closely to horses and experiencing for the first time benefits of equine therapy, to therapeutic sessions in the pool and working with young children with difficulties on the autism spectrum at STEP (Structured Training and Education Programme), is a big chance for which I am grateful.
Apart from the work, sharing this experience with other young people from other countries is certainly the most beautiful part of EVS for me. I have never met such interesting and wonderful people, each in his own way, and I feel extremely grateful and lucky for having had the chance to meet every one of them.
Sharing opinions and common feelings with them makes me grow up and teaches me something every time. They give me the greatest support and motivation and I know I can always count on them. Thanks to them, I understood the uniqueness of this experience, that cannot be compared to anything, and I started to fully appreciate it. This EVS experience in Malta is giving me the opportunity to experience a new lifestyle, that I consider more pure and unpretentious. The happiness that I feel here comes from simple things, like drinking coffee in good company at the harbour, talking for hours and enjoying the sunset together, walking alone by the sea. Being an EVS volunteer in Marsaskala is like living in a dream and sometimes I wish I would never wake up.