Andris is on our HR Team, and joinen the Knapsack Camps in 2017 when he visited Lácacséke and Dunabogdány during the oversleep camp. When he is not with the Campers, he studies Sociology at ELTE, does swing dancing, works as a political activist or bakes. Here, he shares what was his most memorable event during his work at the Camps.
When my friends hear me speak about the Knapsack Camps, they usually have two questions. “What motivates you to do all this?” and “How effective are these camps?”, i.e. what effect it has on the children. Now I will tell a story to answer both.
As you might already know, during the Camp of 2017 we had a program about critical thinking through the examples of certain marginalized groups in Hungary. We wanted to be as authentic as possible, hence Heni and I decided to do our “coming out” as part of this programme. It was not an easy decision to make, but it played out surprisingly well. The next morning during morning exercises I was telling a story and the kids were listening with their eyes closed. The session was supposed to end with the kids drawing the story they heard. It was one of those rare occasions when 5 kids stayed focused and calm for the whole story. At one point a child (that didn’t belong to my group) suddenly shouted “FAGGOT!” at me. I wasn’t offended by this, but it completely killed the magical moment I had with my group. This frustrated me, but I decided to ignore it and go on with my story, I hoped it was possible to save the session. What happened next was truly amazing. Some kids from my group jumped to my defence, the others started to comfort me, one of them even tried to convince me that he was the one being mocked. Although this white lie was kind of funny, their reaction was mainly touching as I received exactly what I had given to them. Because the reason I volunteer at the Knapsack Camps is that I think that these children are in an unfair situation through no fault of their own. For them I am willing to sacrifice my own time and help them with their problems. What they did for me that was the exact same thing; I got into and unfair situation and they helped me out. These children have the social responsibility and the sense of justice that, I think, everyone should have: if someone is treated unfairly, we cannot look away, even if we think that it has nothing to do with us. We have to get involved. I am really proud of them.
This is what motivates me. Of course, it is fun and cool to be a volunteer at the Knapsack Camps. And I cannot think of anything more succesful than teaching the children to take responsibility, justice and to have confidence.