When you volunteer in Buenos Aires (Argentina), the experience impacts your life forever. So is the case with Evelyn Hombrink. She is a 23 year old who works as an intensive care attendant in the Netherlands. She graduated last year and is currently doing volunteer work in Buenos Aires, in a shelter for teenagers and adolescents who have social or psychological problems and are therefore unable to care for themselves or live with their family. Evelyn is one of the participants of our Volunteer Program in Argentina; she first took four weeks of Spanish classes in Buenos Aires and after that she started to volunteer the shelter.
The boys in the shelter San Pablo are between 7 and 17 years old and most come from broken families, domestic violence, abusive or very poor backgrounds. These boys are all struggling with mental disorders or psychological diseases, which makes it very hard for their family to care for them. This shelter gives the boys a home and tries to give them a structured and stable life. The reason Evelyn wanted to work at this project was her interest in comparing the same type of work in Argentina, with her work at home. She wanted to see the differences and similarities in the organization and working atmosphere between her work at home and the centre in Buenos Aires.
This beautiful video made by Elise Gudbrandsen gives a great impression of the Hogar and the boys”
How was your first day at the Hogar?
“It was a little bit different than I expected. The hogar is in the middle of the city without a garden or any place to go outside. Moreover, it was all pretty small, dark and a bit messy… During the first meeting, one of the boys got almost a bit aggressive. However, all employees were very friendly and they made me feel very comfortable. The director of the Hogar speaks English as well, so when I did not fully understand the boys’ Spanish, she helped me a lot. In the beginning it was a little difficult to speak to them but when I asked them to speak slowly it went better.”
Evelyn got the chance to spend time with a small group of boys because the rest of the group was at a summer camp. This allowed her to observe the boys and get to know them better. Most of the time, she played games with them and taught them some English. The only advice she wants to give is: volunteer work at this hogar is especially good for people who are experienced in working with kids or boys that have mental disabilities and disorders.
“I learned a lot from this great experience”, said Evelyn, “ and it has made me realize how lucky I am with my life in the Netherlands. I appreciate my life more and will carry this experience with the boys in Argentina with me for the rest of my life”.