Lidia – Volunteer From Siberia

After being patient with her long visa fight, our volunteer from Russia managed to come to Bulgaria in March. Lidia is 28 years old girl (well, I should say woman) from Siberia, who already has a big experience living abroad and using different opportunities to travel the world. What is she doing in Varna?


Lidia in Varna.

Lidia, what do you do in Varna?

I do EVS.

(That is really exhaustive statement! Let’s keep drilling ;))


What is your project about?

I volunteer in the organisation called SOS – семейства в риск which helps victims of domestic violence and human trafficking and also informs people of such risks. I work only with victims (women and children) in a secret shelter. Each client has half a year to solve her problems, take the case to the court, find a job and turn over a new leaf. Not all the women can do that but the aim of the center is to give them an opportunity to change their lives.

My task is to make women and children socialise and look at their life from another angle through doing different activities together and learning new things.

What is the most difficult part of your everyday tasks?

The most difficult part is to have patience, stay realistic and keep my expectations low, not to get frustrated when clients reject my ideas and me. If I manage to help even a little bit, to change someone’s habits or make someone think in a slightly different way – it is already some progress and a small victory!

How did you find out about EVS?

First time I heard about EVS was in Lviv/Lwow/Львов in 2012, June. I met a Moldavian guy who just came back from EVS in Poland and he was speaking about this experience in a very exciting way.

What other experiences with living abroad do you have?

As a child/teenager I spent quite a lot of time in Ukraine but those days it didn’t seem like “abroad” to me. I also did internships in Poland twice for 3 months each. I lived and worked in Beijing, China for about three years before making a decision to participate in EVS. I volunteered in Colombia and Mexico for about 3 months just before coming to Bulgaria. Ah I also forgot about USA in 2008 for 3 months when I did work & travel.


How did they influence you?

I don’t want to take too much space and time so I would just say every experience has changed me in a significant way.

What is the most precious change that comes to your mind then?

Working and living in China taught me to feel absolutely free (surprisingly in the country that blocks Facebook, YouTube, the whole Google and has very strong police system) and risk to change things/quit people if I don’t like them. In some way China turned me into a cyborg and I can survive anywhere.

How do you find Varna?

When I landed in Varna my first thought was: “Wow, it’s like Russia twenty years ago”.

It seems to be similar to Russia and I am still not sure if it is more or less developed. The best thing for me is the sea and the abundance of vegetables and fruits.


Lidia and two other volunteers preparing some dishes.

What do you think about Bulgarians?

Bulgarians smoke a lot (so far I met only 3 people who do not), they are very friendly and adaptable,  they have the cult of food and they love to share their culture. Also, in general, Bulgarians love Russians because, apparently, they think Russia freed them from Turks in the 19th century. So, it is first country where I would say they don’t hate Russians.

(Lidia means the war, which took place in 1877-78 between Ottoman Empire and Russia, while Bulgaria was under the Ottoman rule).

What are the biggest difference and the biggest similarity between Russia and Bulgaria which comes to your mind first?

In Siberia it is still colder most of the time and people smoke much less nowadays. The alphabet is the biggest similarity (although we have several more letters).

(For those who didn’t know, the first signs of Cyrillic use come from eastern Bulgaria. During X-XII centuries it spread from Bulgaria to other regions).

What is the easiest and what is the most difficult part of learning Bulgarian language?

The most difficult for me are the articles which are attached to a word from behind. The easiest – the pronunciation.

What do you think about Varna being European Youth Capital 2017?

I think Varna has a chance to attract extra attention, tourists and investments during this year.

What was/is the most difficult part of your EVS? (How do you deal or try to deal with it?)

The most difficult part of my EVS is my work. I work in a shelter for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. I encounter many frustrations and challenges and I almost have no chance to discuss them with anyone outside my work. So, I started a diary.