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Branislav Gigac

Hello, my name is Brano Gigac. I live in the town of Prievidza, where I am an activist since my childhood. Even now, in the time of crisis, it is crucial to help. Prievidza was the first town in Slovakia with organized symbolic applause to the healthcare workers in the first line, thousands of Prievidza citizens participated in this great event. It was a grand gesture for the healthcare workers and other people in the first lines as not everybody can sew a facemask or donate some funds. However, everybody shares the feeling of great solidarity with the others. Later we initiated the delivery of the facemasks to the seniors over 60 years; by now we have distributed more than 1000 of them. Some of them are to be also found in the hospital in Bojnice. And my third final initiative was to establish the movement „Support healthcare workers in the Upper Nitra region“ – we print protective shields for the doctors using 3D printers. We have printed more than 500 of them, also thanks to more than 152 donors that funded our initiative with 2973 EUR J.

Crucial was the support of people, thanks to which we were able to help and still are! There were no big issues with this initiative.

I would like to help more, especially in the sphere of public space and socially excluded groups of citizens.

If we have helped at least one person to hope, our help was worth it.

Denitsa Doktorova

Hello, my name is Denisa and slowly but sure, I’m turning 23.

Within my 23 years, I experienced a lot of life situations; there were not always easy. Please don’t take it as a complaint, but I will not also make it sound easier. At a quite early age, I was diagnosed with problems with kidneys – my left one was not correctly developed since my birth and my right one stopped to work as it should as we find out later. When I was ten, doctors have decided that for my body would be the best when my left one (small) kidney will be taken out to not take the nutrition for the other. There was my first big surgery in my body. Of course there were quite a numerous hospitalizations after that. Be a child in a hospital is not easy. They do not tell you anything, some of them do blame you that you lie. If they instead blaming find a way how to explain to the kid what’s going on and what still will be going on, they will make the situation easier not only for the kid but also for themselves. 

After a couple of years and a couple of check-ups, I noticed something when I looked in the mirror. My face was a bit swollen. We suspect it is caused by teeth and also my dentist tried to treat me for half a year, but no success. There was the moment when I came to Bratislava to the Department of dental surgery, my swollen face looked like I had a fist under the cheek on my left side of mandibula. They told me this is probably not caused by the teeth, that it would probably be a cyst and they asked me to come back for the surgery. Within the surgery, they took a piece of my mandibula out; they took out my left bottom teeth; if you have no mandibula, there is no place for them to hold anywhere. Within the histology, they have found out that what was meant to be a cyst was, in the end, benign tumor. I went for the check-ups regularly and in half a year, exactly on my 15th birthday, they told me it came back and we need to take it out. Within the surgery, they took the 3/4 of my mandibula and almost all the bottom teeth.

To sum it up? You have a scar starting at your ear through the whole left side of your neck, you have to eat only soft food or liquid food because of the teeth. You know the full names of doctors and even know what kind of socks each one of them likes to wear. But I have to say that after the second surgery of my mandibula I looked much better, I can smile and also I can eat quite normally.

But let’s not forget about my kidneys. After three years, the kidney that I still had started to fail, but this time for a real. I was able to keep it for the next year. After a year, they sewed a fistula, which is a connection between the artery and vein. After a month, I started with my dialysis. It was exactly when I started my university studies, so I have to still go for one dialysis in Bratislava. To describe my first semester, from the morning dialysis, I ran back to school for the lecture. In the second semester, I ran from laboratories to have dialysis. To make it clear for you, dialysis takes 4 hours and cleanses the blood. This is, I think, the shortest sentence of the definition of the dialysis.

It is not that pleasant thing. You have to come to the specialized department in the hospital, where you spend four hours. Whatever can happen within those four hours. I suffered from the strong headaches, but it comes with many many limitations. The worst part is the water. You can drink only the amount, then you later pee out plus 0,5 of a liter. It is also super time consuming; therefore, I had to stop studying at my university. If your kidneys fail, your one and the only way out is transplantation. I was waiting for it for a year and a half. I think I will never forget what was the head sister’s statement one day before they called me to come in. She said: “I feel it coming”.

But to tell the truth, I really have pleasant memories of everybody from the dialysis. They are incredibly lovely people. When I started, I would never dare to say, that it will also give me something for my life. But after half a year, also thanks to dialysis, I had met my boyfriend. He works as the driver for the emergency and he drove me to dialysis when we were at the ski holiday. And since that moment I really told myself – things are happening exactly the way as they should.

On January 12th, 2019, I went for the transplantation and since that moment, I have a special extra part in my body. To go through all of this was not easy, but it was worth it. One piece of advice for everybody in a super tricky situation – breathe – deeply and slowly.

No, I really like my life and I do what I really want to do. I started to be creative. Painting, graving patterns into the wood, sewing, crocheting. I also began to learn how to be financially literal and to paint what the others asked me to paint and I established Nestresky[1]. I am interested in my own inner peace and how to transfer it to others. Since this year, I work in a shop with zero-waste groceries and there is the place where I am happy the most. For the future, I plan to open my own business. I would like to create a place where you would feel the confidence, happiness and home.

I really wish for the people to stop being in a rush, in a hurry and be less stressed. Except that I also tried to explain to people what dialysis is and why it is essential to talk about transplantation. And in the end, one of my most favorite sayings is: “If you stay in feeling love, if you can find it in everything you do, transfer it by your touch, word, look, and your feelings only then you can, by the single act of love, win over the thousand act of a low nature”.

[1] https://www.facebook.com/nestresky/

Simona Rukavicova

Hello, my name is Simona. I participated in EVS (European Voluntary Service[1]) in 2017 and the fact I made that great decision to participate, “stays” with me by now. How?

I graduated from university and was a bit lost – should I stay to work in the field I have graduated from or try something new? As I intended to stay in my hometown – Hnúšťa – there is a lack of jobs though. Therefore, I have decided to try my luck in my specialization through the project offered by the Labor Office. As I had already been part of the youth exchanges via Erasmus+ program, my thoughts were deep to go for EVS.

My project through Labour Office was slowly approaching its end and I saw that finding the job will be so easy at home. Therefore, I focused on the EVS offers. Although, I still hadn’t decided on a particular country, but I was just browsing to find the project that could grab my attention. Patient ones are often rewarded. Despite the fact, that I choose quite short program – 3 months, it was a fantastic decision. Because I have never before traveled on my own abroad for a long time, not knowing anybody, not understanding anybody (except English) and being responsible for myself.

I am not sure if you still remember, but the hot topic of the year 2017 was migration. All the newspaper headlines covered this topic and everybody got an opinion on this. I wanted to investigate it and get the first-hand experience. I still haven’t mentioned that I studied ethnology. When I saw the project in nowadays North Macedonia – be the volunteer in the refugee camp I didn’t hesitate a single second an applied immediately. When my parents and my friends realized this fact, they were looking at me, probably thinking that I’m crazy. But that Simona – by that time quite an introvert, made her decision and went to volunteer – to help all those migrants that were stuck in the camps at the borders of Macedonia and Serbia – and their intention was to conquer Europe, get our jobs and build mosques – that was my feeling from the discussion of society on this topic.

And what was the reality? Completely different. I went there with the thought in my head that I am the one who is going to help there. But as I realized only later – those people and that project really helped me. Many things I have learned, discovered, explored, understood. I learned how to take care of myself, communicate in English, work in an international environment, talk to people I see for the first time (I am sure every introvert backs me up here it is not really easy!) I learned not to judge people, not to categorize them based on the sticker they have been given by the society. I saw people who were able to share even the little things they had. They did not behave like enemies, not even rude.

We discussed their lives in the countries they escaped from. We played ball games, we had lunches together. I learned the language. I discovered the values I had no clue before. For example, the greatest one that is for us completely standard – is to live in the country with no war. Living in a safe democratic environment is not a standard living condition for everybody (of course we could discuss this deeper, but compared to Iraq and other countries that people escaped at that time it is simply true).

I have known a lot of excellent and inspirational people. With some of them, I’m still in touch by now. I also got to know me, myself, my options. And last but not least, I have also known and visited new and beautiful places which otherwise I think I would never be able to visit them at all. I tried to escape and go out of my conformity and it worked well. In the last email from the center “Multi-kulti”, where I volunteered was mentioned: “Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.” And I think this statement says it all.

Thank you for reading my post by the end. I think to list all my positive, but also negative impressions, experience and benefits, I would need more than just one diploma thesis. Therefore better than have it 100 times read, it is better to experience it once. I still remember every single thing that I adopted from this experience. I always think of it and I always tried to live my life that way. I also believe, even though nobody confirmed it, that it really helped me to get the job I have right now. I have been there for two years by now and I have started six months after I finished my EVS. The job interview, after mentioning EVS experience, started to twist utterly different way. Only from that moment, it was not for me another stressful situation, but an enjoyable conversation. In the end, it finished with a great result – they told me they want me to be part of their team. Although, it is entirely out of the specialization that I graduated and also what I did within EVS, but that’s life!

[1] Program of the EU for young people to spend 2 weeks – 12 months on the volunteering program abroad. More information available here: https://europa.eu/youth/EU/voluntary-activities/european-voluntary-service_en The program is now replaced with „European Solidarity Corps“.


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