Voluntario Global, founded in 2006, has been developing programs to empower social organizations, improve education and training youth for over 10 years. In 2014, we started our new project in: MILPA Community.
This Community Center, located in Tigre, Buenos Aires, helps young people from the surrounding areas learn the craft of gardening and landscaping, framed in agroecology —understood as a science, a social movement, and a practice—. With this, our main goal is to empower them with the skills to be able to have a job, gain confidence, and grow surrounded by a communitarian way of leaving.
At MILPA Comunidad agroecológica, we work toward local development and try to reach sustainability in its three dimensions: environmental, social and economic. We believe that by creating more community experiences we empower people, youth especially, so they can be conscious and reflective about their future and choose a communitarian and cooperative life instead of an individualistic and self-seeking one.
In order to achieve the first mentioned goal, the young people assist to the Pacheco Community Center for learning to use tools and machines. Axes, shovels, pruning shears and also chainsaws and weeders among many others. Both, tools and machines require a lot of time of practice in order to avoid accidents and obtain good results in gardening and landscaping. With these skills, it will be easier for the young people to create their own a reliable job. To reach the second goal, the theoretical classes are essential. Youth people learn an agro ecological perspective to cultivate adding the reflection about the role of the agriculture in the world achieving healthy food, free of agrochemicals. Agroecology, provides an interdisciplinary framework because it does not exist as an isolated entity, but as part of an ecology of contexts. It means, ecological processes applied to agricultural production systems.
Lastly, MILPA Community inspire, like Voluntario Global do through the volunteer programs, to cultural exchange and enjoy diversity working with volunteers from all over the World. We believe that reciprocity and interaction are the best ways to promote and replicate experiences creating strong and inspiring ties within volunteering. Teenagers and adults who are part of the community learn how to work with the land. They learn about agriculture through theoretical and practical methods, as well as gardening and harvesting.
The members of the community we work with are families that work hard every day to better their financial situation. They are families that look out for each other and hope to one day be able to sustain their loved ones without worries. This is why MILPA exists: to establish a foundation for those families who are dreaming of something bigger. Many of the young people from the surrounding neighborhoods have not been able to finish their basic studies and access to university is limited. The Community Center allows them to learn a practical trade, work in a team, and be prepare for labor market integration, as well as encourage them to continue with their studies.
We focus on training. We help young people build new capacities by offering a variety of activities such as language courses, music, and art workshops. Not only can they learn about gardening, landscaping and begin an immersion in agroecology philosophy, but also the Community Center has a greenhouse for the students to plant fruits and vegetables, which they will be able to sell and generate their own income. Additionally, the students enrolled in the classes have access to many gardening tools so that they don't have to buy their own. Those students who want to be part of the community center once they finish their course can be part of the coordination team.
The MILPA Community Center also works as a network with other organizations of the community, especially with the health center of the area. The idea is to spread a sustainability perspective on food, encourage food sovereignty as well as political participation to make these changes real.
As classes take place inside and outside of the community, both volunteers and students will learn by visiting other community centers and cooperatives that sell organic fruits and vegetables, as well as fair trade organizations. The harvesting and sale of the organic products are carried out in the neighborhood fairs during the last months of the course.
Volunteers will take part in some of the following activities, according to their experience and level of Spanish.
Assisting in homework and gardening workshops for children in the nearby Health Center.
Assisting in gardening workshops for adults in the nearby Health Centers.
Assisting in gardening and landscaping at MILPA courses.
Helping with lunch for Pacheco community workers and coordinators.
Participating in assembles and coordination tasks at MILPA.
The Community Center is a place that can provide a different perspective on life. Volunteers will be able to learn about many topics and maximize what they learn by helping us to maintain the garden and grounds. Being a volunteer at MILPA will facilitate you to get a wider understanding of how community organizations work and learn more about the Argentinean social and political context.
Long term volunteers can apply for a soft skills certificate from GLORE, a Project from the EU. You can choose up to 5 skills to certificate according to your experience and will.
Volunteers can be a source of motivation for young people who want to strive for a better future. The energy and knowledge that volunteers bring with them can be essential in changing young people's perspectives. A volunteer can make students believe in a brighter future and instill in them the motivation and aspiration to achieve their goals, no matter how big and regardless of their current socioeconomic status.
Most gardening activities take place during the morning, and classes are held in the afternoon. Volunteers will participate in different activities according to their interests and abilities. The Center is open all year round, however, during wintertime (July-August) there are fewer activities based outdoors. Volunteers will work 5 days per week and have 2 days off.
MILPA Community Centre is located in General Pacheco, northeast of Buenos Aires's Metropolitan area, away from city noise and commercial areas, but connected to the city by bus, so it only takes 1 and a half hours to be downtown.
It is about 90 minutes from the City of Buenos Aires, and 70 minutes from Ezeiza International Airport.
Volunteers working on this project will stay in our Volunteer House. The Volunteer House provides accommodation for a maximum of 3 volunteers in spacious and bright rooms overlooking the garden where you can enjoy the sounds and scents of nature. These are shared rooms with private bathrooms and showers for each room and exclusively for the use of volunteers.
In addition to this, there is a completely equipped kitchen, which is a shared space for the volunteers and community members to enjoy.
The House also offers free WIFI, a TV, and a living room where volunteers can unwind and rest during their off-time.
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