In a selfish world, it would be all too easy to travel just for pleasure with no worries. It does feel great. But it feels better to travel and make a difference.
I had a chance to travel and volunteer a day for the kids of Trebinje in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2015. It was a company-sponsored tour (my reward) with a side trip to do our Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR. That's a fancy city tour with great food in Dubrovnik at one part and then a community service crossing borders to Bosnia. Makes my reward trip really worth it and meaningful.
Just 30 kilometers from the historic city of Dubrovnik in Croatia (now part of EU), the town of Trebinje became part of Bosnia with a tough border dividing the two cities.
First-hand experience, we crossed the Bosnian land borders by bus from Dubrovnik with tight, very strict border checks. It took us almost an hour with a series of inspection from the two border checkpoints — Croatia and Bosnia — until we got dismissed and finally allowed to cross.
While Croatia has developed into a modern country that is now a member of EU and Dubrovnik which has become one of the most desired destinations in the Mediterranean, Bosnia, on the other hand, became one of the most isolated countries in Europe.
The scars of the recent war (1991 — 1995) are still very much alive.
In a country where the average pay is around 400 Euros with a high unemployment rate, securing the basic level of infrastructure and services is challenging. As simple as it sounds, giving the younger generations the chance to train a sport they are fond of is crucial — it gives hope.
As part of our CSR activity, our special task is focused on helping the children of Trebinje to engage even more with the most popular sport in town — football!
Football is the favorite sport in the city of 25,000 inhabitants and an important element of socialization and social integration. Last year, a group of dedicated citizens of Trebinje saved the Under-18's Football Club. This is one of the few organized activities in the city for youngsters of ages 8 — 18 to take part in.
The Under-18's Football Club takes care of over 200 kids every year and has a very important educational role. The club provides hope for the kids to make it in an environment where there are no jobs and where there are huge issues of violence and alcoholism, as well as depression.
Excited and motivated, our CSR activity supports in providing more favorable condition for the youngest players in the town to facilitate in developing their talents. We fixed some of the basic facilities provided by the club making them more safe and useful.
We repaired the shelves and benches inside the club's dressing room, painted the exterior and helped rebuild the damaged benches on the playing field. Plus, donations in the form of football equipment, footballs, shirts, and shoes.
Just seeing the joy in the eyes of these kids was so amazing. Such an eye-opener experience. It has changed my perspectives on social responsibility and intercultural exchange. The culture, hospitality and sheer love from the children of Trebinje will surely stay with me. Great experience, a must do!