When we make a gift to someone we love, the only thing we think about is their reaction when they received it, not the money, not the time spent, just seeing the face of joy of that person to whom we offer a piece of us .
However, we tend to think that the more money we spend or the more complex our gift is, the better it will be. But sometimes, the simplest things can turn out to be the most needed ones.
It’s been two months now since I know the association: Biciklopopravljaona and without any doubt, these words resonate in every corner in Frankopanska ulica 1.
Technically, the association teaches people to fix their own bicycles and thus be able to share their knowledge with other people who cannot afford a new bike every time it breaks down or the winter cold in Zagreb deteriorates its parts.
However, nothing in this life is literal and in order to understand the true meaning of this association, it is necessary to fully immerse yourself.
The very first thing I noticed when I stepped on the floor of the organisation was an environment that, at least me, I was not very used to. A mass of people mixed with bicycles and tools giving off a certain feeling of family, joy and teamwork. But also, another noticeable thing that may strike anyone is the diversity of both the languages used by the volunteers and the physical appearances and ages of people.
Antonio, one of the main managers of the association described: “Probably my function here is that every function has no problems, as well as organizing workshops and teaching volunteers not only how to fix bikes, but also how to teach other people to fix theirs “
And that is not all, they own a big variety of recycled bikes that are offered to people with economic problems, refugees or whoever that really needs a bike to travel around the city.
That is the case of Santiago, a volunteer who moved to Zagreb a few years ago from Colombia and found out about this organization where he was able to fix 3 of his “useless” bicycles and turn them into one that works perfectly; – “I met a girl in Zagreb and my idea was to start working as a food delivery man and told her that I was struggling with my bicycle. However, all the places I asked for a budget seemed to be really expensive. Then she told me she knew about this organization where they could not only help me but teach me to fix it myself, which I wanted, since one of my dreams is to travel around the world by bicycle and for that I need to be able to fix it myself. “
After a few weeks, Santiago not only managed to build his own bicycle, but he also spent more time helping other volunteers and enjoying the fraternal atmosphere that has rendered him.
But why is the environment so attractive to people who come with the simple purpose of fixing their bike?
– “Freedom. – Stated Nikolina, another volunteer who has been helping in the organisation for more than 2 years – I think in Society we are not completely free, we all need to work and spend our priceless time with the sole purpose of earning money. Besides, when you work for money, you cannot be yourself, you cannot make use of your art expression, you cannot be free. And on the other hand, here, we feel we live in community helping one each other without any other rational interest. People just come here, bring their own skills and help the community as much as they can.”
After asking a few volunteers if they would accept being paid, I received the similar, yet surprising answer: “The reward you get when you volunteer here and help people from different situations, countries and ages is far far away from being measured by money” – outlined Mathilde, a French volunteer who also works at Amazonas.
And after speaking with many people around the association I found out that the most satisfying and beloved part of the day turns out to be after they finish working and they all grab a beer and spend hours and hours sharing ideas, laughing, and networking.
-It´s absolutely satisfying, after a whole day working and helping people, to enjoy and listen to stories from people from many parts of the world – expressed Nikolina.
However, with no doubt, one of the most interesting words I heard, were by Marina, another important manager of the association: “I guess we all have different philosophies in life, mine is to give the perfect bike to the perfect person, and that’s the reason why I´m here”.