There’s a song on the radio with the lyrics “that girl’s got mad crossing the street skills.” The running joke in the office is that I don’t have these skills. It’s true; I’ll admit that the customs of the road in Macedonia have been a source of frustration for me, and crossing the street skills would be a huge plus here in Bitola. I’ve been here for almost six weeks and I still haven’t figured out when it’s safe to step into traffic, so I usually wait until all cars and mopeds have passed to move beyond the relative security of the sidewalk. One thing I have noticed, however, is that cars have, or simply take, the right of way over pedestrians when turning. This means that in addition to looking left and right before crossing, one must rotate 360 degrees to see if any vehicles want to turn. I can see the headlines now: American killed by Zastava while on nightly pilgrimage into town for ice cream. And I was always worried about death by Polski Fiat.
The big news this week in the office, aside from my fear of small cars, is that the Macedonian parliament has passed the law on volunteering that our organization had lobbied for! I haven’t been able to find an English version of the legislation, but, from what I understand, it includes a definition of volunteering and provides guidelines for both public institutions and volunteers. The YCC expects that once the law is publicized, more and more institutions will be willing to open their doors to volunteers. The law also gives tax breaks for institutions offering volunteer placements.
For those of you who read Macedonian, a draft of the legislation can be foundhere . The law was adopted as written, with the exception that fines for institutions that violate the law were increased.
What’s next? Our office is planning a grassroots campaign to approach potential volunteer sites with information about the new law; the hope is that the passing of the law will mobilize the community to get involved in volunteer work. In the meantime, we’re developing a strategy to reach out to new volunteers and promote volunteerism in Macedonia. With a little effort, YCC should be able to have a volunteer placement center running by early next year.
I, on the other hand, just hope that I can avoid the front end of a Yugo for the next few weeks.
Posted By Katie Wroblewski (Macedonia)
Posted Jul 16th, 2014