My last days with Animus
Given my insatiable thirst for adventure, and my unfortunate obligation to return to the United States, I decided to use the rest of my summer - after my 6-week Animus internship - for a little regional exploration. I was so excited to move on that I spent every bit of my free time exploring Turkey via guidebook - planning, dreaming, itching for more. Suddenly, on the days before my departure, I realized just how much I'd grown to enjoy Animus and wonderfully wacky Bulgaria...and that I was truly sad to leave.
Wrapping up my final bits of work, I realized how tremendously beneficial my experience with Animus had been - I was sometimes supremely frustrated with the organization, but I was often more frustrated by the sheer magnitude and cruelty of the issue at hand. When a 12 year old - a prostitute for a number of years - checked into our safe house, I was simultaneously grateful for and horrified by my own luck in life. 12 years old? I was still pretending to be a pioneer. As a humanitarian, I learned that I am sometimes very sickened by humans.
As a quick rundown, my overall projects for Animus included the following: (for those of you who are remotely interested!)
- Given that our crisis line was about to flounder into non-existence, my primary project was securing funding for the next fiscal year. I researched our options and then selected and completed the most viable prospects. The grant application process is lengthy and writing-intensive, so my English skills were of supreme value for the organization. The grant request totalled approximately $24,000 (a small amount, comparatively); I sent away two of the grant application/requests, with another pending currency conversion. Of the three, I am desperately hoping something works out - for the sake of Bulgarian women throughout the country.
- As I posted previously, I used my limited (and mildly laughable) HTML skills to build a website for an upcoming series of seminars. I edited and/or composed the the majority of the content and battled endlessly with inflexible site designers. They won. I left before I could regain my dignity. haha
- To spare future international interns my difficulties, I authored a handbook detailing the intricacies of finding food, shelter, transportation and entertainment in Sofia.
- After speaking at length with another American intern at another anti-trafficking organization, I proposed the creation of an American organization directly linked to Animus - for the purposes of evading (or, more ethically, meeting) the IRS non-profit tax requirements. This would allow Animus the opportunity to apply for a whole new realm of grants, while also expanding their programs to benefit Eastern European women trafficked to the United States. Since I will soon be living in Washington DC, footsteps away from potential partners, I offered to head this new initiative. We'll see what happens....
- And finally, in between all these tasks, I served as the resident english grammar and american culture/politics "expert."
And that, my friends, is sixish weeks of pure, invaluable learning experience. On my last day, I recieved a round of hugs, chocolates and well-wishes. Walking out of the sunny little building was quite a bit more difficult than expected.
I waved to the fruit lady on the corner, annoyed the neighborhood grocers, and made my death-defying sprint across to the bus stop one last time. That night, I met my coworker marie for my "last hoorah" out on the town - the "Macedonian Jazz Band" was a hypnotic, body-crushing, mind-swirling, sensory overload (very non-jazz) experience I'd recommend to pretty much everyone. As a bizarre combination of Bulgarian/Macedonian folk, Euro-trash trance, American pop and a little polka...it was the most appropriate last-hoorah imaginable. I was heading to Turkey very soon - and this was goodbye to Bulgaria...for now.