Moving Feet Opening Minds summer project

From 24th of July to 8th of August, 13 students from Askham Bryan College and Newton Rigg College, UK, came to volunteer in Kuterevo Bear Refuge thanks to the Moving Feet Opening Minds project.

For these students in animal management, it was a beautiful opportunity to discover the project, learn about bears and other wild animals in Croatia, experience simple way of life and enjoy volunteering with many other international volunteers.

For our organisation, it was a great help since we always need new motivated people to give a hand in our daily tasks!

Together with Maja, one of our EVS volunteers from Serbia, and Dora, from Croatia, students gave a lot of energy working for the needs of the bear refuge. Among many tasks, they helped with renovating the enclosure for the youngest bears, prepared enrichments for them, built a new bench for visitors… Carrying rocks and heavy rotten trunks was not always easy, but altogether and with good mood and good will, everything was done!

But volunteering in Kuterevo Bear Refuge is not only about hard physical work. During their stay, English students discovered Kuterevo traditional lifestyle, visited local families, learnt how to bake bread… They also met with Teta Dragica, our dear grandma maestor in making „Coklje“ (handmade Kuterevo shoes) and always willing to share life lessons with volunteers.

As part of the educational activities of this project, Professor Vedran Slijepcevic, from the University of game-keeping and environmental protection, was invited to give a lecture about signs of animal presence in the wild. Students and other volunteers learnt how to recognize footprints, feces, signs of feeding… of ungulates, small carnivores and large carnivores.

And after the theoritical part, spending time in our forest camp Kopija was perfect to enjoy natural wild animals’ habitat and to reconnect with nature!

 

Last of the EVS team 2017

So, the end is here, our fellow reader.

Two months have passed and we don’t really know how to feel about that. In one hand we are relived to go home and see our friends and family again, to go back to our old lives. But, in other hand we feel really sad and depressed to leave Kuterevo, to leave this small piece of Paradise, to leave the bears, to leave Postaja (our Volunteers Station), to leave all the domestic people, all the friends we made here.

No matter how we twist it, that is reality. And to cheer up the sad part of the story , here we present you some bloopers, funny photos or just us doing… something!

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Farewell Kuterevo, farewell bears, ponies, Misho, Kiki, Ivan, Barbara, Glorija, Josipa, domestic people and other volunteers! We shall come back, but for now here are our faces in case you star forgetting how we look like.

Goodbye, for now!

Lots of bear hugs and wishes to meet again soon,

The EVS team 2017
Written by: Tamara Gjuroska

The Golden EVS Middle

Yes, our dearest reader, believe it or not we’ve come to the more than a middle of our EVS stay! A lot of laughing, tears, sweat, friendships and more has filled our month and so. In our previous post we talked and talked about all the things we’ve done so far. So, now, we wanted to justify our words and offer you pictures as a proof! But, first, bears!

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So as you can see on the pictures above, our Lithuanian girl Laura repaired our Meditation Spot and even though we don’t have pictures from before she laid a hand on it, we assure you that she did a great job. She cleaned it up, repaired the fence and gate, put new gravel on the floor and even made motivational quotes.

Next one, we have Martin, our French man, who besides reviving the German Garden worked on another personal project which involved creating a Greenhouse. Below you can see the almost finished product and how Martin and Teodor enjoyed it :’D We will also show you pictures when it gets painted, but for now we just wanted to show you our EVS human plants!

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And the last finished personal project belongs to our youngest EVS volunteer, Aleksandra from Serbia, who repainted the old bear signs we have, so we could replace the ones we have on the roads as directions to the refuge that were too old to be easily noticed by our visitors.

And here you have the chance to see Luke working on his personal project, but because it’s still not finished, we’re not going to tell you what it will be!

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Besides all of this, we were special guests to Hrvatski Radio Otočac twice and will be one more time by the end of our stay here. We also had a Skype talk with the volunteers in Brezovica, Kosovo, where the second part of this EVS project is taking place. It was really nice to meet these people and to share our experiences so far, to give them advice considering that we started our EVS one and a half month earlier and to hear what their plans are! We found out they were working on organizing an eco-friendly festival, BreFest on Sharr Mountain, Brezovica, a project that was initiated by GAIA Kosovo, our sister organization. They were working on a music program, capoeira workshop, vegan cuisine, sustainability education for visitors etc… but all with consideration and respecting the mountain. They were at the beginning of their project, and the first thing they did was to remove a very large garbage dump from the place! (Good job, guys and girls!)

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Both volunteer groups on both mountains (Sharr and Velebit) had a similar motivation to join these projects, experiencing an eco-friendly lifestyle and paying respect to nature and its creatures and living in harmony with them. Of course, one of the biggest topics of the skype meeting was bears 🙂 and the volunteers were especially interested to know how they should act in case one visits them. (reminder – act calm, don’t run, give the bear space to go away)

We built a new fence around the volunteer accommodation, we learned how to cook and eat vegetarian food ONLY (a challenge most people survived surprisingly easy) and how to make an amazing homemade bread! How to play chess, to take care of a garden and not to kill it, how to make limestone mixture and paint fences with it, (we are preparing planks to extend the fence for the Shetland ponies we rescued from a zoo this year).

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But also how to have fun every night and use our days off to the maximum as the next few pictures can show.

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This is all we can tell you for now. We hope you enjoyed the pictures and you will stay here till our last post!

Lots of love and bear hugs,

The EVS Team 2017

Written by: Tamara Gjuroska