"I know what it's like to need love and support"
The story of Ruslan, a UNICEF volunteer
Ruslan lived in a foster home since he was 6. For him regular volunteer visits were a great distraction from the everyday routine. When he grew up he became a volunteer himself.
Ruslan shared his story: why he became a volunteer and what volunteering means to him.
To become a volunteer you need to apply to one of the volunteer communities. At UNICEF – the United Nations Children's Fund – we are always happy to welcome initiative young people. They can be useful in many ways here: fundraising (raising funds to support UNICEF programs), information volunteering (disseminating information about UNICEF programs) and helping to organize charitable, sports and partner events.
Find out more about UNICEF volunteer activities on Instagram: @unicef.volunteers.by. You can fill out an application form to become a UNICEF volunteer here or register on the «U-platform» – a platform for youth.
Ruslan Snopkov. 23 years old, volunteer, social worker
My parents abandoned my sister and me when I was 6 and she was still an infant. My sister was adopted, while I grew up in a foster home – I spent 10 years there. I had good care givers, but it didn’t work out with the children. My peers and those who were older were cruel to me: they insulted me, beat me up, teased me for my big ears. I cried a lot.
I could endure all of it only because of the vacation trips to an Italian family that became like my own, and because of the meetings with volunteers. They came to us every Saturday. They played and talked with us, discussed life and helped us.
At first I was a bit cautious about them. I didn’t understand why they needed it all. I was afraid to believe that they really cared about me. I was afraid that when eventually I would start trusting them, they would leave or offend me, they would give me hope and immediately take it away. Children who grew up in a foster home often have such fears. But after a while I got used to meeting those young people and I was waiting for them to come all week long.
I remember that volunteers so brought gifts. More important though was their attention, love, support – everything that I lacked so much back then. Probably, if it hadn't been for them, I would have been lost in life. We are still in touch. Some of them have become my friends.
When I left the foster home, I realized that I could also support someone. Now every Saturday I go to a foster home to visit children. I talk and make friends with them, share things I don't need anymore. Sometimes I tell them my story to assure them that hard times will eventually end, that they can pull through difficulties. And also to make sure they don't feel too alone.
As a volunteer, I work a lot at sports events because I love sports. We hold relay races, competitions, play football with children, work as animators in the children's area during hockey games.
When I compare the old and the present me, I realize that I have changed a lot. I have met people who see me as a person, appreciate me and treat me with respect. I used to be reserved and didn't communicate much with others. Being a volunteer helped me become more open. Now I want to learn how to speak in public. For example, this interview is also about overcoming my fear.
Nowadays I am also a social worker. To be more precise, an accompanying assistant. I accompany people with disabilities and blind people. This work is not easy, you can get very tired while doing it, but at the same time it gives you strength.
Every single person needs help and support. Without attention to each other, we will be lost. It's like living without love.
U-platform is a useful resource for active pupils and students. There you can find out more about youth parliaments, UNICEF volunteer activities and "Stupeni" center, that was created to develop, implement and support youth initiatives. Here you can take free online training, learn about upcoming events in your region and promote your own initiatives.
The Republican Volunteer Center coordinates the volunteer movement in the country. There are teams of volunteers in many educational institutions. Their projects and activities are implemented together with the center. The Republican Volunteer Center also recruits volunteers for national and international events.
Find out more about the center and volunteer enrolment announcements on our social media. Our Instagram account is @rvcvolunteers. To find out if your educational institution has a volunteer community, contact its administration, dean's office or send an e-mail to email@example.com.