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Bring Heroes to Life – A wonderful journey

I was interested in a training project in Hungary, I knew straightway it was exactly what I needed. I was at the end of my tether with the job I took after the completion of my master’s program and was looking for options beyond 9 to 5. I was soon in contact with the coordinators of the project. Within few days of receiving the information I was signing off from work enroute Hungary via Luton airport and my elation knew no bounds.

The location of the program, Berettyóújfalu is about 25 miles south of Debrecen, Hungary’s second largest city. It is an ideal spot not only because of its close knit and idyllic community but also because also because of it’s respect for nature and wildlife. As you enter the city, you are greeted by a river flanked by vegetation and cycle paths. In fact, people and animal on the outskirts of the town live peacefully side by side. The air is fresh, hardly tainted by car fumes or heavy equipment and the people seem quite happy. Our home for the next eight days were some round Jurtas housing up to four participant and we were fed by a lovely couple who although spoke almost no English, were very kind and ready to help us. Within a couple of days of arrival, we were showered with Hungarian hospitality by a local lady who presented us with pogacsa, a traditional Hungarian delicacy.

While the location provided most of the participants an escape from the chaos of the big cities, the training itself was filled with high quality training resources including meditation classes, Yoga, Dance Mandala, philosophy, massage and creativity classes. Participants were encouraged to use non-formal education, elements of nature within the local surrounding as a source of inspiration. The atmosphere was such that virtually everyone was happy to learn and share with each other. During the afternoons, we enjoyed bonding with each other during a 2 hours break and the friendship and family blossomed.

Many were able to face and deal with their ultimate fear of the future or the past. For me, meditation helped me to come to terms with some of the traumas that I have been through as a result of the loss of family members.

On day 4 of the event, we were gifted with some free time, and while a few people chose to visit the bigger city of Debrecen most participants chose to hire bicycles from the local vendor and enjoy the tranquility and peacefulness that Berettyóújfalu had to offer. We visited the meagre town centre and rode across the countryside singing songs and chit chatting. This day was filled with laughter as we regaled ourselves with stories and took several pictures of our adventures. The animals of Berettyóújfalu formed a large part of our day, from Storks, to sheep, snakes, dogs and even lizards. At the end of the day we were not just participants from different parts of Europe but brothers and sisters who deeply care about each other. This day ended with a burn fire event where we sang and enjoyed each other’s company as we smoke chicken portion on open wood fire right into the night.

The intercultural night was a day of joy and sharing of all things cultural. It was an opportunity to try out new things and know a little bit more about each other’s country of origin and it was an integral part of our learning. Food from different parts of Europe was beautifully displayed as were songs, poetry and quotes.

But as they say, every good thing must surely come to an end and after from the fifth day, the mood of the camp became more sombre and calm not just because of the beautiful journey we had all experience but also because of the imminent end such a beauty.

It was obvious that we were a tight bunch who would never be together in such a place again. We were the ones who were privileged to have received gifts which cannot easily be put into words.

Even the weather was at its utmost best for us and we will continue to be grateful for the kindness of our trainers, Erasmus+, nature, the weather and the undying fellowship and dedication of each other. Now we all have friends from Italy to Greece, Greece to the UK, the UK to Pakistan and Nigeria and even to the heartland of Hungary.

The hardest part of this journey was saying goodbye to all the friends we have made, but many of us have resolved to keep the bond and continue to encourage each other in the future.

Personally, I am grateful to V2020 Leadership initiative for giving this great opportunity to be part of this life changing experience. I would recommend that this training as organised by Sabai Training NGO and Breathe with Eve be replicated in every country within the EU and beyond.

By Gbenga Afolabi is a Manchester based RTS Award Nominated filmmaker and youth leader who volunteers for V2020 the West Indian Centre.

Special thanks to: