The door is always open by Valentina

I’m Valentina and I am a youth worker at the  YMCA in my city- Peja and this is my story…


I was always a very hard-working person and very empathic I always loved helping people that is why I chose Social Work as my study field and from a very young age I got the chance to participate in different NGO’s as a volunteer so my love for being able to help people change started from a very young age and still grows.

After being a semester abroad and then coming back here without any idea what to do after my graduation, and for me as an very active person it was really hard. I got stuck between a lot of applications, always searching for the right one.

One of my friends who was a volunteer in this NGO called YMCA  shared some posts about what they do and I started thinking what would I do if I was there too?  And  there it was! A job application, while I was reading it, I thought  I would love to be part of this family so I’m really going to try. After I applied I was hoping to get a answer but at the same time I was thinking 'I don’t think I’ll get this job, I’ve always been a volunteer I don’t have experience in real work”. Itwas playing with my mind!

After a short time I got a call , I did an interview that went great and there I was , I was on my way of becoming a Youth Worker for my city that I always wanted , still not believing it but at the same time very excited about everything.

Valentina at the Gjakova Y

The first week was very funny and moving a lot, we changed our location from a small place to a bigger space so everyone was helping, meeting 2 wonderful girls which I was going to work with and that were always ready to help for what I needed. Seeing all the volunteers there without any hesitation for helping was motivating me even more, even though we were cleaning mostly people would be like “where do you see good energy at cleaning” (laughs ).

We are not just Youth Workers we don’t always give youth training sessions and then 'bye' ,we stay with them, we motivate them, we want them to be independent, we want them to be future leaders and seeing all those volunteers with smiling faces  I was thinking “they found a way to come here help even if it’s just decorating or just putting the books in their shelves and they are doing it because this is their safe space, is where they will put their ideas on work and mostly because this is their place too it’s their Youth Centre”. 

After a day we started having other YMCA people from other countries and it was becoming even more interesting, listening to all these amazing people so passionate about their ideas for helping the youth everyday motivated me even more and for me as a person who always shares a positive vibe this was a fountain of happiness.

What I started working on first was leadership groups, being a trainer, I wasn’t just teaching them, I was learning everyday how can I become a better leader too, I was building a better self, earning more self-esteem. I started also with a group for a program called Y WOMAN it was a gender equality program, I always fought for Gender Equality and now I got the chance to teach others what it was. Together with my amazing colleagues we finished the first part with a group of amazing youngsters that were always ready to learn more.

Valentina with YMCA from Y Women program

What was coming next was always getting better and better, I became a mentor in a Workshop in Gjakova, UPSHIFT (a 3-day workshop with 10 groups expressing their ideas in front of the others so if they win they  put that idea as a project) and trust me when I say I meet amazing new people super creative and full of positive energy, a team and a staff that I wouldn’t wish for a better one. And even though my team didn’t win I was happy that I had the chance to be there and was happy that they enjoyed the program and will come there again and their happiness for me was worth it more than a win.

Valentina with the UPSHIFT team

Valentina with her UPSHIFT group

Besides these I had the chance to be also part of the Building Bridges program as a trainer together with my colleague, a program for community integration and besides every week with the youth learning different topics and learning group work  we had the chance to do a cultural trip where we gathered the youth from every YMCA center, how amazing it was to see everyone there, I think some of the best moments happened there, doing our challenges with the youth groups even in the really cold weather, lots of laughs, trying not to get lost or separate from the group but at the same time learning about monuments and culture. 

Valentina with Building Bridges groups

 I had the chance to be also part of a Showcase, a result from a program called Ten Sing where the youth work for 12 weeks to present their work in front of the others, singing and dancing groups. The show was just wonderful. It feels amazing to know that these incredibly talented youngsters are having a chance to show now their talent and at least for me as a Youth Worker this is the result of a very hard-working youth but also staff.

Valentina with youth from TenSing program at Gjakova Y

Weeks go by, and there is no “routine” around because every day is something new here. In my city, together with my two amazing colleagues we make sure that the Youth in Peja is always in good energy and to be honest ‘Working’ is more fun when I’m around them because good energy and some laughs make you love your job even more. But not just in Peja , every other YMCA in Kosovo is and will always be a “HOME” with good energy and a Safe Space for everyone.

The things I like the most about this place is that we were encouraging others in their dreams, creating future leaders but also that everyone has the right to say their opinion and no one will judge you for that, you have your own safe place, a place to call second home where you learn new things, work, build your professional but also personal person, where you grow, meet new people but mostly enjoy time with positive people, full energy and most important...Have Fun! 

We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future,,

I won’t say that I learned a lot because learning here is never enough for me, I’m becoming the version that I wanted to become, a leader that works for change. Every day is a new challenge, new ups and downs but never giving up, cause the best is always ready to come, just got to work hard for it.

I’m more than happy that I had the chance to be a part of this HOME, a place where everyone is ONE, a place where you can find it everywhere you go around the world! and to be honest this is where I always want to be! 

The door is always open and there is a place for everyone!


Popular posts from this blog

The right to participate in decision-making processes by Njomza

We all have a role in facilitating peace personally, locally, and globally! by Aoileann Conway (YMCA Ireland)

I liked the idea of a new place to pass my free time by Leon