Why is it difficult for volunteers to understand the needs and realities of the community?
Because it takes time to understand a culture. Moreover, in poor communities in which there is a lack of education, fear of not having food or being cold, these things provoke the members of these communities to have petty attitudes that seem to be hard to explain or understand.
Can we judge these communities by working with them for a few months?
It takes a long time to learn about the culture of a country, the way it is organized and the way people solve problems. Volunteers need to think how long it takes to know and understand the different cultural traits in their own countries. To understand a different culture and be able to draw conclusions takes longer than 1, 2 or 3 months.
Do we see the "full reality" when we arrive at a community?
No, the reality of each person in marginal communities is much more complex than what is shown or can be seen with the naked eye. These people often lie about or hide their real lives because they feel embarrassed about their own situations.
Why are criticism and evaluation of the volunteers always welcome at Voluntario Global?
Because we work in vulnerable places where planning may require daily adjustments. Changes and crisis are permanent in organizations. The volunteer, through their assessments and actions can help correct and reorder tasks and projects.
Is it normal to feel a little disappointed at not being able “to help more" in the project?
Yes. The task of changing the world takes time and dedication! The important thing is to keep trying.
As people become more confident with the volunteers, they will be more receptive and the volunteers might become more useful as their proposals will be heard.
Trust is not something that can be earned in a set time.
If volunteering is of a short period, is the assistance still helpful?
Volunteers always help and generate a beneficial interchange for the community.
Communities know that volunteers travel long distances to meet them and to exchange life experiences.
Let us remember, that for many, the poor are invisible and are not treated as equals.
Should a volunteer expect help to get integrated in a community?
The proactive and determined attitude of the volunteer is extremely important.
It is always very helpful when volunteers find their own way to help in the communities, so that coordinators instead of “training them” can use that time to accomplish pending tasks they might have.
Are volunteers’ tasks always clear and precise?
There is always a general plan. But volunteers will have to discover how to accomplish tasks alone. That is to say: take the initiative because in the community centers there is always more to do than what the coordinators can cope with; and that is why volunteers should not expect indications. You can’t go wrong by trying to help! It is by trial and error that we all learn.
The volunteers have expectations about the different projects, will those expectations be met?
Never under an individualistic concept. Following a Community and solidarity objective, they will turn into new expectations. These expectations should be more about the volunteers and not so much about the projects.
Maybe you will not change anything visible, because the bottom line is sometimes invisible to the eye. Volunteers can influence people’s hearts and their self esteem.