Annabel´s experiences as a volunteer in Buenos Aires
Annabel – one of our German participants in our Spanish & Volunteer program in Argentina – volunteered at a center of social rehabilitation in Buenos Aires. It´s a house where around 25 girls live that are not able to stay with their own parents for different reasons. Annabel arrived in Buenos Aires in the beginning of September. She lived in a guest family and took an intensive Spanish course for six weeks. Before starting the volunteer work, all volunteers receive an orientation where Annabel got general information about Buenos Aires, how to get to her volunteer project and more info as well about working in a different country with many cultural differences. Together with our volunteer coordinator, she went to the house for a first meeting with the girls where she spent some time with them, to the psychologists of the house to get a general impression of her volunteer work that would start mid-October.
Although Annabels Spanish skills had improved greatly during the six weeks of her Spanish course in Buenos Aires, during the first days of the volunteer work she sometimes felt a bit insecure because of the language barrier. The girls speak fast and do not always understand, that volunteers do not understand all they say. But her voluntary work Annbal was always in close contact with the volunteer coordinator and she really enjoyed her work with the girls a lot. Of course, as when you work in a different culture and you communicate in a different language, there are always surprising situations. Annabel gives a nice example: ´I didn’t expect that little things like bringing pencils and papers to the home can make the girls so happy. It’s important to spend time with them doing activities but also hugging them and just listening to them.´ Annabal also admits that in the beginning it was hard for her to step up to the girls and motivate them to do things with her, but after a while she just did it although it was sometimes hard mainly, because the girls came home tired from school.
A really nice activity of Annabel was having girls writing their personal wishes and personal aims for the following year on papers. They put all the papers in a wish box which they buried in their garden. Next year, the kids can have a look and see if their dreams have become true. Annabel also told us that the girls gave her small presents many times, such as drawings. Or they hugged her and told her many times ´te quiero´ (I love you). Annabel: ´That really made me happy because I could see that my work is effective and awarded.´
Finally, Annabel has one recommendation to other AMAUTA volunteers in Buenos Aires: ´Just to be yourself. You don’t have to feel insecure because if you show the girls that you are interested in them, they will certainly like you and be happy you are willing to spend time with them.´ At AMAUTA, we are very happy and proud of Annabel for the work she did. She was a great volunteer, creative, very open to the girls; she organized fun activities and made them laugh! Thank you so much for everything, Annabel!