Written by Chip Frenette on 2016-06-02. Posted in Reviews from Past Volunteers
In what is commonly known as a gap year, between her secondary education and attending a University, Sophie Kiner Jørgensen (20) has decided to devote her time to traveling and volunteering around the world.
Sophie volunteers four hours a day, five days a week at an early childhood development center in one of the many impoverished neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is a neighborhood that struggles with upward growth of its residents and Kiner sees this as an opportunity to help people less fortunate than herself and also to advance herself toward her final educational and career goals as well as do something positive for people in need.
“My task is to assist the teachers whenever they need me. I am playing with the kids, singing songs with them, helping them to go the bathroom and just making sure that they have a good day in kindergarten.” Said Kiner.
Along with working as a volunteer to achieve her academic and ultimately her career goals, making a difference is also important for Kiner, she believes that she is helping to make a difference in the lives of the children.
“The thing is that they are living in a slum area, so they need some space where they can express themselves and where they can play and feel happy.” Kiner said. “Most of them live in just one room with their entire family or in the streets, they just need to feel happy.”
Watching Kiner work with the children, it is obvious that she is enjoying what she is doing and also that the children are happy when they are in the school with her.
Kiner wants to study anthropology when she continues her education. This opportunity here in Buenos Aires is critical to advancing herself to study her chosen field.
“I came to Argentina because I wanted to learn about the culture here and I thought that volunteering would be a good idea because I can see how the living conditions are here and in the slum and that is a big contrast to what I have back home.” Kiner said. “I think it is a good experience for me to learn about another culture”
Kiner believes immersion in another culture is also critical to learning more about herself. The opportunity working with Voluntario Global has helped her to learn more about herself in the five weeks that she has spent in Buenos Aires. Working with the children in an environment that sharply contrasts to her life in Denmark, where poverty and homelessness are not an issue and have played a crucial role in her own self development.
“Before arriving here, I traveled for two months with a big group from Denmark. Here I am pretty much alone and I experience a lot by myself and I though that I would be fine but I am a little alone here.” Kiner said. “But it makes you stronger if you just grab all the challenges.”
Written by Lahav Calev on 2016-05-30. Posted in Reviews from Past Volunteers
Volunteering every day at the soup kitchen is a great way to get to know the community and the atmosphere at the neighborhood. Last week I had a couple of great volunteering experiences, very authentic and real that made me feel very happy with my participation at the project – exactly because it made me feel like I’m getting to know the project and the neighborhood much better. In one of the days, a big truck, full of boxes of food arrived. I discovered that the cooks at the soup kitchen are a part of a cooperative which helps them buy large quantities of food for their families in discount prices. It was great to see who everyone helped each other in organizing all the food inside the kitchen. The cooks and their helpers lined spontaneously in a row, starting outside the street near the truck and going towered the room inside were they organized all the boxes. The boxes moved from one hand to another and they finished the unpacking quickly. Every one helped to unpack the truck and the cooperation between all was perfect. They all were very cheerful and happy to see that they work so good together.
A day after, there was a fire drill at the project, it was also great to take part of it and to see how amazing all the cooks and everyone else were during the drill. They helped the kids go out from the class to the street and once again I was lucky to see the perfect cooperation between all. Of course the kids relate to the drill as a game and they were so happy with the excitement of it. Maybe because the cooks and the helpers, although taking the drill seriously, were so great with the kids so the kids were just very happy to get outside for a couple of minutes. I sow how everyone at the project cares so much for the kids and it made me realize that they are in good and amazing hands that look after them so much.
These experiences made me realize how great the cooks and everyone else at the project are, so caring, so cooperative; they are all true community leaders. realizing that made my volunteering become much more authentic – I was not just helping in the kitchen, but, for a couple of weeks, I was also part of the community. And that is something you cannot experience unless you volunteer, especially in such well operated organization like Voluntario Global who makes sure to send you to great projects, were everyone take care of you like you are truly a part of the community.
And one more thing, last week I also understand how strong the women at the soup kitchen are – not physically, although you need some of that when working every day at the soup kitchen… but mentally. In their minds and heart they are so strong. They know how to join forces in a cooperative in order to organized food for themselves and their families, to manage a fire drill perfectly and to make a volunteer feel so good with his stay at the soup kitchen. You realize that when spending a couple of weeks with them at the kitchen. They are really so strong and inspiring women.
I can believe that this week my three weeks of volunteering will end, so soon… I really recommend, if you like cooking, like kids and want to experience Buenos Aires not just as a tourist, to come to the soup kitchen. If I could, I would have stayed much more than three weeks, maybe you would want too…
Voluntario Global helps local communities by being available to discuss anything that local organizations need, and offering ideas for further change and development.
Location: General Pacheco. Buenos Aires. Argentina