A New Centre for Volunteers
Project location: POLAND, Krakow
Project start date: July 2003 - Project end date: January 2004
Project number: 2003-02
Beneficiary: Horizons Institute
This year Horizons Institute has been able to undertake many activities with the two-fold goal of training plus forming youth to be leaders in Polish society and involving them in social projects. These activities have been planned at the Training Center of Horizons Institute Inc. in Kraków, Poland, but several have taken place in other parts of this country and abroad. The activities were mainly organized by the staff of International Educators and the volunteers from different nations who have come to share their experiences with the young people in Poland.
Programs with younger children were often used as opportunities for training of so-called 'team leaders,' girls at least 16 years of age, who are gradually learning to take on organizational responsibilities. Horizons Institute works in collaboration with CYWN (Catholic Yorfh World Network), an international association of clubs. In Poland, this club is called Klub Everest.
All the activities may be divided into annual activities, those which take place more or less once a year, and regular activities, which take place continuously throughout the year.
A. REGULAR ACTIVITIES
I. Weekly Meetings
Some young people, after part taking in social projects, form teams and continue working with Horizons Institute. For them Horizons Institute hold weekly meetings, giving them moral, human and social formation.
2. Monthly Meetings
Once a month Horizons Institute organizes meetings for the so-called team leaders- These are girls of at least 16 years of age, who help Horizons Institute in contacting various institutions, in advertising and promoting programs, and in directing the youth during missions and our activities. During these meetings Horizons Institute holds various workshops to help them fulfill these tasks. Gradually, Horizons Institute gives them more and more responsibilities.
3. Formation Weekends
Approximately each 4 months, Horizons Institute holds a weekend for young people workrng with them. Often they travel to Zakopane or Rabka where the participants have a chance to rest but also have integration and formation activities.
B. ANNUAL ACTIVITIES
1. Ski Camp
Between the 24 and 31 of January 2 004, during the winter vacations, Horizons Institute organized a ski camp for girls who had become involved in the organization. There they had an opportunity to rest but also had the benefit of formative talks.
2. Action Kilo
For the last 4 years, this activity has been arranged once or twice a year in Poland each time with 40-60 participants. Once again "Akcja Kilo" was organized in February of 2004. The aim of this activity was to have young people collect store-bought food products for people in need, while at the same time developing their leadership skills and social consciousness.
Before the day of this action, Horizons Institute held preparatory meetings to explain to the girls how best to approach customers and remain safe. On the day of the program, the teams with their team leaders went to the stores and some encouraged incoming customers to buy some extra food or supplies for the needy (the proverbial kilogram) while others stood behind the cash registers to remind the customers of this action and collect materials. In total, 80 kilograms of materials were collected, ranging from cans or cookie packages to toilet paper and school supplies.
The final part of this activity involved the distribution of these materials. Most of
things were donated to " Caritas", while the rest were distributed by Horizons Institute. The staff went door to door to surprise 30 families in need with assistance.
3. Train of Love
This activity took place for the second time in Poland between February and March of 2004. It was organized to interest 11-13 years old girls in helping those less fortunate than themselves, children from the orphanages of Kraków. The 130 girls who signed up worked in 15 teams to design and then transform a carton box into a decorated train wagon. The girls themselves were responsible for finding presents to put inside. M any sorted throught heir own toys, books and clothes, asked their family and friends for food and candies, while some even organized collections in their schools.
4. Visits To The Needy
Aside from visiting poor people to share with them the donations gathered through
programs such as "Akcja Kilo," from time to time Horizons Institute organizes visits at home for the elderly before Christmas. Similar visits were organized in March 2004, when younger girls visited the sick in a hospital.
5. Trip to Rome
It has become a tradition that in the period of Holy Week Horizons Institute organizes a trip to Rome for girls of at least 16 years old. There they have an opportunity to meet young ladies from countries such as Slovakia, Hungary, Germany, Mexico, Ireland. In April 3-12, 2004, 15 young womenf rom Poland took advantage of this opportunity.
6. National Encounter
The weekend of 23-25 April, 2004, Horizons Institute held an encounter for all supporters throughout Poland at the Poland Academy.
Families of the people working with Horizons Institute were also invited so they could learn more about activities and also receive some formation lectures. This encounter also contributed to the integration of families from different parts of Poland.
7. Mother-Daughter Day
In honor of Mother's Day, one Saturday in May 2004 Horizons Institute organized a time for the girls they regularly work with and their mothers. This was an opportunity for the girls to share with their mothers what projects they do and also contributed to strengthening family bonds and motivate mothers to help organizing other activities.
8. Summer Camps
During the summer vacations 2004 Horizons Institute organized 3 camps in Zakopane, Poland, 2 of them being international summer camps. In the first one, that took place at the end of June, there were 26 girls (aged 11-15 years) from different parts of Poland. The second camp at the end of July was also for girls of this age group, but it included participants from Germany and Hungary. For the last 3 summers, there were also young girls from Mexico, who voluntarily help Horizons Institute with these camps, coming to Poland to share their experiences and culture.
At both these camps, aside from time to rest and explore the countryside, Horizons Institute organized formative talks and language classes for the participants. There were also activities in which the girls polled people in main parts of the city to assess their values.
The last camp of the summer, taking place in the month of august, was for 10 Polish and Hungarian girls with at least 16 years of age. On top of recreational and cultural activities, Horizons Institute held courses for the participants about leadership, how to work with adolescents and moral themes.
Every 4 months Horizons Institute organizes social missions to help the needy. With groups of young people Horizons Institute has done such activity in Wola Filipowska, a poor village near Kraków, in Slovakia and Lithuania. In July 2004 missions in three different villages in Lithuania were organized. Horizons Institute visited families door-to-door, giving them moral support and inviting them to activities organized such as a cinema forum and a discussion about values.
Between the 17 and 20 of December 2004, Horizons Institute organized a group from Kraków to go on social missions to Glogów, an impoverished town in western Poland. In this area alcoholism is a widespread problem so among the activities there was a formative talk about this issue, with discussions and a movie forum to stimulate the young people to think about the sense of life, healthy forms of recreation and how to search for values in the modes of communication.
C. FORMATION: SOCIAL AND LEADERSHIP
In this last year Horizons Institute had many programs for the Polish youth, working with many schools. By way of the aforementioned activities, Horizons Institute encouraged the participating youth to becoming responsible and active members of Polish society. With regular meetings, they try to give those who continue working with them personal attention to help their personal growth. By involving the parents in undertakings, Horizons Institute also worked to strengthen family values. In all programs, the girls are invited to work in teams so as to develop teamwork, communication, and listening skills. But at the same time the activities allow for healthy competition and individual initiative. The programs also encourage the participants to be more sensitive and responsive to the needs of those less fortunate, and to share their time or possessions to help them. Since most of Horizons Institute staff is from other countries, the Polish youth also have an opportunity to develop their language skills and to learn more about other cultures. By all these means Horizons Institute works to train leaders of Polish youth with a strong social consciousness.