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THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA

24 September 2017
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2011 is the ‘European Year of Volunteering’

 
Ambassador Simon Butt (Great Britain) was last year’s patron of the event ‘BŪKIME KARTU’ (‘let’s be together’). The event is organised every May by Vilnius International Club, since 2002, every year bringing more than 100 children from different orphanages and institutions, together with helpers and volunteers from Lithuania’s international community to a farm 26 km north of Vilnius.

The US ambassador hon. Anne E. Derse will preside at the event this year, when an effort will be made to introduce other business and political leaders from other regions of Lithuania so that Bukime Kartu can organically expand throughout all of Lithuania so that many more children can participate in future years. We welcome business leaders, politicians and most of all volunteers to come join us at this year’s event on May 28th at Viva Green Resort. If you would like to know more information about this event, please email us at linas@bangabanga.lt

Text: Linas Ažubalis [linas@bangabanga.lt]

The European Commission has declared 2011 as the European Year of Volunteering. With that declaration I thought it would be a good idea to review volunteer activities in Lithuania, with special focus on the charitable activities from the foreign community within Vilnius as well as the work of the non-government organization Spiritual Guidance Centre for Youth (“Dvasines Pagalbos Jaunimo Centras” - DPJC).

According to EU statistics, there is a large difference between member states regarding their level of participation for volunteering activities. United Kingdom, Sweden and Austria have volunteering rates that are greater than forty percent of the adult population, whereas in Greece, Lithuania and Italy those number drop considerably to a paltry less than ten percent of the adult population. Why such a big difference? The role of culture probably plays a big role, but political and business leadership or lack thereof also plays an important role.

The Vilnius International Club (VIC) is a membership club that attracts expats from around the world who currently reside in Vilnius has written within its mission statement to engage in charitable activities. The VIC had the idea of organizing a day of activities for orphans that would be organized by VIC and its members which include embassies from around the world. The idea was to bring about 100 orphans to one place, which has been a farm located north of Vilnius for the last 8 years hosted graciously by Zina Ginaitiene and make them feel welcome and cared for through a planned day of organized activities. Thus Bukime Kartu (Let's Be Together) was launched. Every year a different embassy takes the honorary lead role to organize the one day event that must seek out over 100 volunteers to make the day run smoothly.

This year Lt. Col. Stephen Timmons from the US embassy is providing organizational leadership for the event along with chairman Torben Pedersen, as well as a handful of other international volunteers. The US ambassador hon. Anne E. Derse will preside at the event and this year an effort will be made to introduce other business and political leaders from other regions of Lithuania so that Bukime Kartu can organically expand throughout all of Lithuania so that many more children can participate in future years. We welcome business leaders, politicians and most of all volunteers to come join us at this year’s event on May 28th at Viva Green Resort. If you would like to know more information about this event, please email us at linas@bangabanga.lt

We would also like to highlight the work of Dvasines Pagalbos Jaunimui Centras based in Klaipeda. (Spiritual Guidance Centre for Youth) DPJC was founded in 1994 by visionary Fr. Ed Putrimas who conceived the idea while living in Toronto. He saw the greatest need for a social program in the port city since the other larger cities had already established programs. After obtaining a grant from the Canadian government, he opened the doors to his center that would reach out to the lives of underprivileged youths and families for years to come. The centers core mission statement revolved around Christian principles and the idea of volunteering to develop social competence among young people and to promote sociability, civic awareness and core personal values. Over time he was able to put together a solid team of social workers and more importantly volunteers who would expand and add programs that would help their community which has been supported by the municipality and other government social programs. In the small confines of the space available to them, DPJC runs a daycare centre for underprivileged families, a Big Brother/Big Sister program, a youth crisis hotline (Jaunimo Linija) as well as “Sniego Gniuzte” which is a prevention program that aims to convince adolescents through activities organized over a weekend that life is fun and is full of meaning without consuming intoxicants. More than 88 registered volunteers and 8 staff members help to run the programs at DPJC. During the last couple of years, as the financial crisis spread around the world, the Lithuanian government and foundations have cut back their funding for such programs. DPJC has tried to maintain their level of commitment to their programs while less and less was available to them via funding. The need for services has not gone away but has increased while more families have been pushed closer to the poverty line. Three years ago DPJC was able to offer youths a learning and computer center, but unfortunately the learning center burned down and since the premise was not insured, the learning center was not replaced. To this day there exists a need to replace the learning center, but ever since funding dried up, the center has become a distant memory with no way to replace it.

 
Klaipeda’s Dvasines Pagalbos Jaunimui Centras (Spiritual Guidance Centre for Youth) DPJC was founded in 1994 by visionary Fr. Ed Putrimas who conceived the idea while living in Toronto. He saw the greatest need for a social program in the port city since the other larger cities had already established programs.

The youth crisis line ("Jaunimo Linija") is linked to three cities - Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipeda, and collectively 93 000 calls and 1 600 letters were answered last year. That equates to over 250 calls and 4 letters each day of the year. On average, one out of every seven callers seeks help because they are suicidal. That's about 36 people per day. To make matters worse, Lithuania has the highest suicide rate in the world (according to WHO from 2008). DPJC realizes this grim statistic and is doing everything within their abilities to help these struggling youths maintain the will to live. Keeping these youths engaged in activities with a feeling of belongingness is one of the main objectives of DPJC.

If you are able to donate old computers, office equipment, sports equipment or toys, DPJC would gratefully accept these items. Also monetary donations could be sent to Darzelio g. 11, Klaipeda  LT-93195.

Otherwise we graciously ask working individuals in Lithuania to donate 2% of their taxes to DPJC  http://www.dpjc.lt/index.php?page=skirkite-2-dpjc-veiklai, which is a way of helping without opening your wallet, (https://deklaravimas.vmi.lt/lt/Pradinis_Prisijungimo_puslapis/Prisijungimasperisorinessistemas.aspx) but do so quickly because the deadline is May 1st. Tres Mexicanos restaurant, a support partner of DPJC, will provide a 30% discount coupon for anyone who offers a donation in any form, but you must come to Vilnius to use it. Please send the editor a confirmation email at editor@VilNews.com  and a coupon will be sent to you.

Category : Lithuania today



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