Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Eleanor M. from Australia, June 2010
Originally written in Spanish on July 8, 2010. Volunteer translation by Joelle Bouchard, former Spanish teacher in Houston, Texas, USA.
Here I want to be honest about my experience as a volunteer at Conviven.
The truth is I was mistaken about what it would be. When I decided to stay in Buenos Aires, I had planned to participate in some kind of project, but it was very complicated: I found a lot of organizations that wanted to provide an experience for tourists or exploit one's desire to help for capitalist means. After having spent a lot of time searching for a good organization I gave up. I shouldn't have done it. The worst thing is that at one point, I had entered Conviven's web page, but rejected it when I saw that it was a religious organization. Upon seeing that I thought “No, not that. I don't want to participate in a project that exploits people's weakness in order to impose certain values.” From that moment on I dedicated myself to my studies and enjoyed the process. However, I somehow felt empty. One Saturday in May, I read an article about the work that Conviven does in Ciudad Oculta. They seemed so dedicated in helping those less fortunate that I decided to put my prejudices aside and get involved with the Center. I didn't look back.
My experience working with Conviven, although it was only during a short time, forms the most powerful memories of those gained during my stay in Argentina. In the first place, that experience rid me of the idea that Argentina was not a poor country. It is. It could be that the poverty is not as apparent as it is in Bolivia, Guatemala, or Paraguay. But hidden poverty is poverty nonetheless. In addition, I realized that an individual can have a positive impact on the life of another human being. It's not enough to talk about changing the system – it's the little steps that also help. The children with whom I worked were so good and they had so much drive to learn, and I feel very privileged to help bring out their potential. Finally, the experience inspired me. I am a law student and I always wanted to work with human rights issues. However, for the first time I realize that I can use the knowledge that I already have to help now, I don't have to wait until I graduate. Because of that, I'm offering my services, free of charge, to centers here in Australia that offer legal services to marginalized individuals.
I recommend to whoever finds the project, to get involved. I want Conviven to have all the luck in the world.