Rafting, or diving on fast river waters, is a great activity for people looking for strong experiences. You probably think that apart from looking for strong emotions and adrenaline, they are not interested in anything else. There are some.
But this time we’re not around a raging river. The place is the lake of Pancharevo. Feverish preparation is underway. Boats are inflated, life jackets and oars are arranged. Several disadvantaged groups of children must arrive here. The goal is for each of them to get on a boat, grab a paddle and become a real participant in a boat rafting trip. It seems a bit unrealistic.
A group of about 30 children of different ages, led by other young people, is approaching the place. The reason is that they have varying degrees of impaired vision or are completely blind. The leaders are student volunteers.
Even this view alone is exciting against the backdrop of the lake in Pancharevo, where rowers are currently training.
For a moment, I’m hesitant about how much it’s possible to give these kids paddles and put them on a boat. Next to me is Vesselin Paunovski, organizer of the initiative. According to him, the first time he organized such an activity, a blind girl asked him what was water? “It was a question I just didn’t know what to answer,” he tells me.
Volunteers help their peers put on life jackets. They take them by the hand to the boats, help them undress, and even leave a note with the name on each pair of shoes so they can recognize them later. Then they get on the boats and they take to the hungry waters of the lake.
Exclamations of joy echo the pier.
I’m used to describing everything, but the feeling at the moment when it comes to children with cerebral palsy and those in wheelchairs is difficult to describe and convey.
Vesselin watches what is happening and I see that he narrows his eyes so as not to reveal his emotion. A man with his profession and so much adrenaline to react like that is quite indicative.
“I didn’t know what to answer then to the question of what water is, but I know what we give to such children who just have never seen it – that’s the feeling of it. We want to give them the feeling, especially of those who are impossible to take advantage of like us, “says Vesselin.
It’s hard to explain. We are born, we see, we walk, we run, we swim and we do all sorts of things, but such disadvantaged children do not. Only in such a place do you realize what we have and what they do not have. You can’t feel the emotion of some of them, because their problems are especially serious. They are understood only by their parents who are with them.
I can’t miss the volunteers – students who have discarded their teenage excitement and show remarkable attention and attitude to their peers, put in a difficult situation for life. They hold their hand, help them in everything and are with them in the boat – the boat of life, in which not all of us are lucky not to have such problems, something we often forget.