My name is Gergely Ferencz, but most people call me Dura. I’m a 22 years old boy from Hungary.

After having finished cooking school, I started working as a temporary employee. Then I saw a volunteer opportunity in Finland and I went there to try it for a month. It was the first time I was engaged in a short-term volunteer service and it was so awesome.

After some time I saw on Facebook a volunteer opportunity in Palermo (Italy) for 9 months  I immediately checked the details because I always wanted to travel to Italy. I had never worked with mentally disabled adults before, but I thought it was time to start.

On November 4th in 2016 I arrived in Palermo: my first impressions were positive, mainly because of the mountains and the beaches I fell in love with. The city has authentically beautiful squares and churches and Italian gastronomy is simply great.

I started working in a project with five girls (one from France, one from Germany, one from Sweden and two form Spain). We are an awesome team of nice, friendly and cool volunteers.

I feel lucky I’ve got a great mentor such as Balaram Gaire.

I didn’t have any Italian language skills before coming to Palermo, but I have participated in a course that helped me a lot to speak and understand Italian. One of our working languages is Italian so I involuntarily picked up the language. I understand a lot now but talking is still a bit difficult for me.

I didn’t regret my decision of participating in a project targeted at disabled people. Even though on my very first day at work, I still had fears, I discovered they had disappeared by the end of the day.

There are a lot of nice people there: it’s a great experience to deal with people with disabilities and all the workers are extremely helpful and patient.

We play games, we carry out skill development sessions, we make ornaments and gifts and we organise shows and create choreographies for different holiday festivals.

I live in a cozy little flat with 3 other volunteers: two Norwegian girls and one Kenyan guy, Felix Nzeki, who’s also my roommate.

This great experience in Sicily has changed my life.My self-esteem and teamwork skills have improved a lot. This project taught me self-sufficiency and helped me overcome my fears.