2016-04-25

Seeing Both Sides of Buenos Aires

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In any new city or country one goes to, the first instinct is always to Google for things to do, places to see or even which restaurants to dine in. Before coming to Buenos Aires, I did an extensive Google research on nearly all the touristy activities I could do. From the colourful array of houses in Caminito to the beautiful city of the dead in Cementerio de la Recoleta, Buenos Aires is without a doubt an exciting city waiting to be explored. But what Google doesn’t show you is, in the simplest of terms, the non-touristy aspect of Buenos Aires. Volunteering with Voluntario Global provided me that opportunity and more.

I came to Buenos Aires hoping that I could be one with the city. I wanted to see all the city had to offer. Give me a year and I still wouldn’t be able to see everything this city is made of. But in the few months that I’ve been here, I’ve grown so fond of this city that it’s now home to me. It feels like home because I don’t feel like I’m on the outskirts. Volunteering has allowed me to interact with the locals in more ways than one.

Picture yourself getting on a Ferrovia train, a train with no doors, a train that makes your heart skip a beat each time it gets on an overhead bridge or even when it goes through a tunnel. Picture yourself taking that train for almost an hour to get to a shanty town on the outskirts of the city, occupying your time with a book while trying to ignore the loud voices of the man trying to sell you biscuits, chewing gum, highlighters or even a portable sewing kit. You get to the shanty town and it is pretty much everything you pictured it to be. Stray dogs lazing on the streets, men pulling carts in the middle of roads, rows of single story houses with children playing on the streets. What I didn’t expect were the cheery voices of people in these homes, singing as they worked the stove, the welcoming environment they provided to just about anyone who walked through their doors.

I instantly felt comfortable despite being completely out of my element. Toddlers, being the joyful innocent little beings they are will come up to you and look at you with bemused expressions and wonder off only to return with a toy for you to play with. The women entertaining these children give you a kiss on the cheek along with a warm hug and invite you in. It made me feel right at home. Each time I was given the task of visiting a kindergarten, an orphanage or even a soup kitchen, I couldn’t wait for the chance to interact with the locals. I would never have been able to gain such an experience had I not been a part of Voluntario Global.

Even after a long day of work, it is always a joy coming back to the Voluntario Global house. Catching up with other volunteers and coordinators who have now become family. It isn’t a house, it’s a home. The coordinators in the house have been nothing but wonderful and incredibly understanding. Always there to cater to your queries or doubts and never failing to make you feel like you belong.

There aren’t enough words to express my gratitude towards Voluntario Global. The experiences I’ve gained and the lessons I’ve learnt are irreplaceable. If you’re thinking of volunteering, do consider Voluntario Global. Take it from me, you will get what you are looking for. 

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