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Mihaela Pripici - Charity or Justice

Author: Mihaela Pripici

I am Pripi and one of the things that bothers me the most is injustice in all its forms. My first encounter with injustice was sometime in my childhood, when a Roma mother came to our gate on Easter Day with a baby in her arms. She told us that they were hungry, and we gave them something to eat. It was disturbing to learn that there are people who have nothing to eat, and that was the moment when I thought that it is very unfair that there are children who go to bed hungry. It was then that the desire in me was born to stand up for people who are treated unfairly by fate or the system. 

My experience with volunteering began in 2015. I was 15 years old when I started working with the GHEPart Association here in Curtea de Argeș.

In 2021 I met Alina Greavu, Aluziva (as she is known online), an activist for human rights, mental health, sustainability and more. Alina had long dreamed of founding her own NGO. All she needed was a small team with whom she shared the same values and beliefs. We got together and set off at the beginning of 2022. The Aluziva Association wants to do something for less fortunate people. Today we help single mothers and their children, children with disabilities, Olympic children who are not supported by the state to participate in international competitions. We also support education: We build social libraries in disadvantaged environments, renovate and digitize schools in rural areas or organize workshops and campaigns to educate and raise awareness about violence, the importance of mental health and more. 

Just one month after Aluziva was founded, the war in Ukraine broke out, with thousands of Ukrainian refugees waiting for help at the border. In just 4 days we managed to build a team of 80 volunteers, set up Alina's country house and on the 5th day of the war we were already hosting over 30 Ukrainian refugees, mostly women and children. 

The stories of people fleeing the war made charity our life's work. For 3 months we slept 3-4 hours a night. The satisfaction I felt when I put my head on the pillow and knew that a child had something to eat and a roof over their head thanks to my and our work fueled me and kept me going. But I became tired, physically, mentally and emotionally. I began to feel like I was doing myself an injustice by devoting all my time to charity.

I was in burnout. That's when I felt it was time to stop and the struggle was going on inside me. Is it right to stop now and take some time for myself? Or is it right to carry on?

And I stopped. I stopped for a second and looked objectively at what my life looked like then. I reminded myself that I have needs too, that I have dreams and aspirations. One of my dreams is even to make this world a better place. I understood that to do good around me, I first need to be good to myself. And "good with me" doesn't mean having a perfect life, because there are no perfect lives, despite what we see on social media every day. We never know what the future holds, and this is a valuable lesson that I have learned from helping refugees in Ukraine and other beneficiaries of Aluziva. Being good to myself meant balancing myself, giving myself time for activities that would recharge my batteries for another day of social involvement. Balancing myself so that my stories about charity are not just about how many people I have helped, but how many people I am currently helping and how many more I can help. 

To do this I needed to divide my time in such a way that it was also fair to me, to put drops of my soul into every activity that brings me joy, because as the motto of Aluziva Association says, "Drop by drop, an ocean is made".

I now dedicate 4 hours of my day to the association's projects and invest the remaining hours in my passions, personal development and rest. During the period of my retreat, I also discovered stand-up comedy, which became my main source of energy. I dream of a career as a comedian. I get all my good energy from the joy, laughter and applause of the people, energy with which I return to the association the next day. 

In January 2023 I entered the show iUmor and managed to win Season 14. Then I took a short break from the stand-up comedy business, managed to reconnect with my emotions and started writing poetry again after 2 years without inspiration, poetry being a passion I've had since I was 8 years old. For a while I dedicated my free time to poetry and managed to fulfill another dream: I released "Unpublished.", my first volume of poetry. 

And I would like to read to you a poem in which I put some of the emotions I experienced while helping Ukrainian refugees:

Bright-eyed children, empty-eyed parents,

By cold tracks, through crowded stations,

They found shelter in dozens of new hearts,

beating in unison, heavy with kindness.

Phalanxes embraced in a handshake,

In trembling terror and hope,

Angels with weeping shoulders gather round,

Soothed in empathy and exuberance.

Alone, a drop, did not fill the glass,

Nor watered a flower, nor quenched a fire,

But we, like drops, invented the ocean,

And the fires of hell have we quenched as in a game.

When their hearts were tired of beating,

In chorus our hearts beat in unison

The planet stopped, with hatred in its grip,

But in waves of love, today it has restarted."

I've often wondered if I can do it all and do it well. The solution has been to take it one step at a time, to be patient with myself, to know my limits, and to take the joy out of everything I do. And that's the message I'd like you to leave with tonight. Thank you.

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