AEGEE – with a Heart for Georgia

“Such initiatives once again prove that AEGEE is not only about voting, candidates, and committees, but about people connected with each other and helping on a distance of thousands of kilometers.” This is what Olga Iatsyna, former Network Commissioner, wrote on her Facebook profile. We never thought otherwise!

The members of AEGEE-Poznań united their enthusiasm and willingness to promote the cultures of European countries and combined it with their mission to help. This is the motivation of the charity initiative “Serce dla Gruzji” (in Polish – “Heart for Georgia”). Consequently, a unique event was born: “AEGEE with Heart for Georgia”.

The main aim of the action is to show how many people need support and how we can contribute. During the last years, as a result of the wars and the political transformation in Georgia, a great part of its citizens were struck by many unexpected difficulties and suffering. The standard of living deteriorated for many people. Therefore, the purpose of this joint initiative of AEGEE-Poznań and “Heart for Georgia” is to show that there are people who support the children, the elderly, the poor,  and the sick and lonely. Thanks to the money collected, the local will be able to help an orphanage, a health centre for the poorest, a soup kitchen, and home care for those in need and for the handicapped who are no longer able to move from their homes.

Visiting Georgia during international projects showed me not only the beauty of the country and the immense hospitality of its citizens, but also revealed vast social needs. Last year, our group of volunteers from Poznań decided to start the initiative “Heart for Georgia”. Currently our actions are meant to support the already existing projects lead by Caritas Georgia. This organisation is widely known for its effectiveness. What is more, its employees recognise the needs of the people they have been taking care of for years. We believe that the money we fundraise is not going to waste, but will be used in the best way possible.

“As a former AEGEE member I have been in touch with its members for years and  I know very well that their enthusiasm can bring new ideas and energy to this project. I could not have been happier than in the moment I received the answer from AEGEE-Poznań and saw the support from AEGEE-Tbilisi and the Eastern Partnership Project (EaP),” says Ligia Szulc, the coordinator of the charity initiative “Heart for Georgia” and an officer of the Poznań City Hall.

“This project is undoubtedly unique. And what makes it this special? First of all, it is the aim: Helping those in need. Through our action we are able  to make a real difference in other people’s lives. Secondly, an incredible and very effective cooperation between two groups – AEGEE-Poznań and Heart for Georgia. I am very happy to be a part of this team. Together we can definitely achieve more,” says Marta Wnuk, coordinator of the Exchange Working Group in AEGEE-Poznań.

On 28th May 2012, students of the universities in Poznań were encouraged to join, learn more, and contribute during the fundraising. To thank them for each offering, the sponsors of the event decided to give some fresh baked pastry which was distributed by the volunteering students. A Georgian culture evening in the Blue Note Jazz Club with music, Georgian cuisine, and interesting guests followed. Two music bands offered live concerts for the participants as an afterparty: the Polish band “Propaganda Dei” and “Bullit” from the United Kingdom.

The charity auction, supported by the biggest Polish auction portal will last for a few days. All assets fundraised will be sent to partner of the initiative , Caritas Georgia.

“I do not regard the geographical border of Poland as the right criterion to choose which people we should help. Social aid is well-developed in Poland, while in Georgia it still is not,” says Paulina, one of the volunteers when asked why she decided to fundraise for the needy in Georgia.

Let us follow then our hearts and words “Some call it Europe, we call it home.”

Written by Ligia Szulc, Initiative Heart for Georgia and former AEGEE-Poznań, and Marta Wnuk, AEGEE-Poznań

Photographs by EaP and AEGEE-Tbilisi