Did you arrive at Voluntario Global with any previous experience or expectations? “I had experience with older children in English primary schools and I had spent some time volunteering with children in Cuba aged 3-10 years old but that was different to my experience with Voluntario Global because it was more structured, the kids were older and we had pre-planned games. I expected to be working with less children and with children who were less outgoing and more shy, but I was pleasantly surprised.”
How did you feel before starting your volunteer journey and what did you hope to achieve? “I felt nervous before starting at the project, mostly because of the language barrier. I wanted to help the community and offer an extra pair of hands caring for the children.”
Tell us about your role as a volunteer and your average day at the project? “When I arrive at the kindergarten I join the kids in the youngest room and play with them. At around 10 o’ clock all the children sit together to have a snack and I help to make sure that the children are behaving and not stealing each other’s food! After the snack I play with the kids more and we often do some craft activities. I have to help keep them entertained and safe. Lunch time is just before 12 and I help feed the youngest children and then assist with the clearing up before the children take a nap. I set off home once the children are asleep.”
What has been your favourite part or parts of volunteering with children? “My favourite part of this experience has definitely been the kids that I’ve met, getting to know their personalities, seeing them every day and learning all their habits, likes and dislikes. I loved when the younger kids just wanted to cuddle and there was one day we had a spring picnic outside that I really enjoyed.”
What is your favourite memory/funniest memory? “One day the ladies at the kindergarten made me empanadas (beautiful Argentinian savoury pastries) before I left. They loved introducing me to traditional Argentinian food and everything they made for me was so delicious! The kids did some really funny stuff too.
What has been the biggest challenge for you? “At first the language barrier was a challenge for me when I wanted to communicate with the ladies I was working with, but as time went by this got much easier. I learnt key phrases by repeating what the ladies said to the children which became very useful.”
What have you learnt over the last 2 weeks? “I’ve learnt not to take for granted the resources and the services that we have at home, and to appreciate how lucky we are in comparison to some others.”
What advice would you give to a new volunteer starting on a project with children? “I’ve only been volunteering for 2 weeks and that isn’t long enough! Go for longer than two weeks because you won’t want to leave. I would also advise that volunteers learn key animal, body parts and colour words. Wear comfortable clothes that you don’t mind getting a little dirty, stay open minded and prepared for a challenge. I would definitely recommend volunteering with children to other people, it’s a great way to learn and give back, it gives you the opportunity to evaluate what we take for granted in life. I also think volunteering with children is very important, don’t think that you don’t have the time because the ladies at these projects prove that you do."