What Volunteering Means to Me

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Why did you choose to volunteer? Why choose to volunteer in Buenos Aires? Are you going alone? Is it even safe in Argentina?

I was asked these questions a lot before finalizing my decision to come to Buenos Aires. I suppose they were decent questions to ask but what bothered me most was how many back home didn’t quite give Buenos Aires a chance. But I’m glad I did. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter where you volunteer. It’s the reason behind why you volunteer that matters most. It isn’t a selfless deed because volunteering is an exchange, it isn’t a one-way street. No matter where you go or how long you go for, you will learn a thing or two, meet some of the most incredible people and in due time, gain memories that will last you a lifetime.

So why volunteer, and in Buenos Aires no less? There is just something about this city and this country that sweeps you off your feet the moment you land at the airport. This country most definitely has a heartbeat of its own. Everything moves about 3 times faster than what you’re used to and this is coming from a Singaporean who’s used to life in a big city. I wanted to experience a world so different from my own. To be thrown out of my comfort zone and to learn independently. Volunteering isn’t just about giving back. It’s about helping others just as much as it is learning from others, a lesson I’ve learnt in the 3 months that I’ve been here in Buenos Aires. I have another 2 months here in Buenos Aires and I must say that home can certainly wait. I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to this city I now call home.

I'm a communications volunteer in Voluntario Global, an organization that is dedicated to bettering the lives of the people in Argentina. They work alongside kindergartens, orphanages, soup kitchens, health clinics and hospitals to name a few. My volunteer work involves heading down to these projects and creating videos and capturing pictures as a platform for them to spread awareness on the cause they believe in.

A typical day would involve travelling to sites on the outskirts of the city and meeting coordinators and directors who run the kindergarten for instance. An hour or two is spent capturing footage and conducting interviews. After which we spend time with the children or even sit with the ladies and listen to their stories. I must admit, my Spanish isn’t the best and although it was a barrier, it was never an issue. I’ve met women who’ve dedicated their lives to bettering that of others. Women who sacrifice so much to bring smiles to the faces of others. They find so much joy in the simplest of things and it made me put a lot of issues I was facing in my life into perspective. There’s a saying that goes along the lines of how a problem you face today will be insignificant tomorrow. Made me realize that some problems I was facing weren’t even problems to begin with.

The women here in Voluntario Global are a force to reckon with. They march to their own beat and hold their beliefs close to their hearts. They welcome anyone as part of their family and they sure get the job done and done right. There is always so much life and laughter in the Voluntario Global house which I live in which also serves as a workspace for these ladies. They encompass what it means to love your job and are such an inspiration to me.

I’ve learnt so much and I wouldn’t trade this experience in for the world. Buenos Aires has certainly grown on me. I suppose what I’m trying to say is, give volunteering a go. Don’t deny yourself the opportunity to experience something new. If you get the chance, do it. And most importantly, never let your own fears stop you from taking on new challenges. You never know. Your volunteering experience might teach you a thing or two about yourself too. 

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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
Email: jfranco@voluntarioglobal.org

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