After our workcamp in Imaginatorium, GAIA‘s educational center in Gracanica, I feel like a student who has just graduated from school and, looking back, reflects on the things he learnt, the ways he changed and the friends he made throughout those years, though in my case I was only there for little more than a couple of weeks. One of the wonders of life is that the whole of it can be experienced in a seemingly short time, and I can contemplate all things, from birth to death, by going through my memories of these past few days, from our meetings before participants came, during which, like parents who are expecting their first child, we made detailed plans and schedules and worried about all that might have gone wrong, all the way to the end, when the time came to say goodbye and many kids – and grown-up volunteers as well – could not contain their tears.
Then the house where we were living and, more vividly, the school where we were working with the kids come to my mind. I see our daily chores : cooking for the group, cleaning the bathroom, fixing broken pipes, tidying up the house, washing the dishes, … and, while those things may not seem to us worth telling, they now appear important and even beautiful to me, because we carried them out in order to make life easier for those around us, out of love for the small family we became during those two weeks together. However, those things cannot show the power of love nearly as much as the moments we shared with the children of our school. What else, if not love, could make those kids, who live such hard lives amidst poverty and violence, all run at us smiling in the morning to hug us and offer us some of the sweets they were eating? What peace I felt then, as we were walking up the street towards the school and passing by the black fumes of old cars and the red unfinished houses with the kids holding our hands. Having them by our side when crossing the thick clouds of pollution and noise was like carrying a candle in the dark.
Little by little it became clear to me how much those children were full of light. And sometimes, as when they finally understood whatever it is we had been trying to explain to them, like the best way to solve a math problem or a smart move in some board game, all that light of their hearts shone right through their eyes. In those and other such moments, Imaginatorium became a school for us as well, and we slowly learnt from the kids something far more important than English or Math : to keep our hearts as pure as theirs, free of the stains of deceit, fear and darkness.
If such are my memories, how can I go on with my life with neither those kids nor my fellow volunteers to share it with? Again, the answer is love. Yes, workcamps may end, volunteers leave, kids grow up, … all things pass, but love never ends, and love was all that this workcamp was ever truly about.