Children showed us how to love and be sincere all the time, their individuality needs to be respected, and we learned that they are in many things above our adult level.
Start at the end of the story to know what it’s about. Our story ends with children’s smiles, their happiness and joy. That means we have managed to do something good for over 85 wonderful boys and girls at the Friendship Games Novak Djokovic Foundation organized at Zlatibor mountain, and bring colours to their lives. I participated in it as a volunteer, and I carry many great impressions from the last week spent there.
There is a great sense of responsibility related to any project, being traditionally and successfully implemented every year such as the Friendship Games. Expectations are even higher: people remember previous events hosted on Kopaonik and in Belgrade, hoping that this year’s camp would be the best ever. Children just want to have fun… As for me, all I wanted was every child to spend as many enjoyable and memorable moments with us as possible, learn and discover something new and make new friends. We also wanted them to feel welcome and appreciated, encourage them to show their talents and creativity, and remember the Friendship Games with a smile.
The fact that children were of different age groups and came from different environments was a big challenge itself. Children deserve their individuality to be respected. Therefore, we did our best to build a relationship with them full of trust so they could feel free and able to express themselves. At the same time we have tried to instill in them a sense of group belonging when surrounded by other kids they’ve met for the first time. Building a good relationship with children requires a lot of patience, care and understanding. However, we knew our efforts would pay off eventually. Just seeing them so happy and cheerful was enough. A hug… Then another, and another… Glimpse in they eyes… Readiness to give you their heart… Honesty… Brightness… All of a sudden we found ourselves in a completely different and charming world. A better world. Nicer.
Spending time with the children and carefully observing them I became aware that every adult should embrace the child inside in order to become a better person. In the same time, I reflected on the phrase that you need to get down to be at children’s level. But, this is wrong, since often you need to “get up” in order to be the same as kids, to understand them! In many things they are above our level. We need to improve to be like them.
Children showed us how to love and how to be sincere all the time. We were wrong thinking that our task was to reveal them secrets of the adult world. Instead, they reminded us of the willingness to accept and to welcome other people in our lives, or to say simple but strong words – “I’m sorry”. They taught us how to overcome our fears, how to celebrate the joy of life with song and dance, how to be open to new things, how to be self-motivated to constantly learn and progress, how to be different and yet never lose ourselves. The friendship camp has provided us the opportunity to grow up with them, learn together and from each other, freely express our creativity and abilities as well as make great friends.
It seems that children’s unique talents were just waiting for the right opportunity to reveal themselves, and the kids readily grasped that opportunity as it was nothing. It was incredible how good they were at dancing, swimming, sports, drawing, song writing or singing. Yet to our even greater amazement, they didn’t let us compare their talents, considering themselves equal in everything.
At the beginning of the Friendship Games I guided the children. It was my role. However, the roles have completely changed as the time passed. At the end I was the one who needed a guide. Thus the courage of my friend Ankica from Skupljeni helped me overcome my fear of heights. Bojana from Lucani and Branko from Mackat taught me how to keep the tradition, thanks to Ivana I became fond of flying a kite, with Stefan, Mihajlo and Iva I’ve learned how to be happy and joyful all the time…I finished my journey guided by their pure hearts to realize there is a child who still lives inside me wishing to play and learn new things.