Spain – International Volunteering begins: "They welcome you"
(ANS – Barcelona) – For many young people, the experience of volunteering leaves a profound impact on their lives. Some then decide to donate their lives as priests or religious, given the immense work that must be done for the benefit of the poorest. Others change their way of life and their vision of the world. In all cases, there is no doubt that the experience of volunteering radically changes lives. During this month of July a group of volunteers from the Spanish Salesian NGOs “Solidaridad Don Bosco”, “VOLS” and “Jóvenes y Desarrollo”, began their journey to experience solidarity and learning in different parts of the world.
“Volunteering as an operational expression of an interior attitude of service and solidarity,” explains the document of the Salesian Congregation dedicated to this dimension. It should be noted, however, that “Salesian voluntary service is not limited to young Christian practitioners, but is addressed to all people of good will, both to baptized non-practicing Christians, and to those of other religions who, in a spirit of openness towards people and cultures, want to create a new world through social action, sharing the Salesian ideal and its method.”
The Salesians of Spain have given life to Salesian Volunteer Services and in these summer months many young people are, indeed, leaving for different parts of the world. Miguel Peinado was the first to leave, from Barcelona to Lungi, Sierra Leone, on June 21st.
“If I had any doubts about my arrival in Sierra Leone,” Miguel says today, “they vanished the next day when I left my room and Father Larry welcomed me with a hug, preamble to the loving welcome that the rest of the community would offer me. And the last remnants of the fear of not being able to adapt to the children dissolved the afternoon of the first day when we went with Mar and Alberto to the oratory, and at every step we were joined by a new group of children who took us directly by the hand and they constantly asked us in krio language: “O’poto, udat na yu padi” (white man, who is your friend?). It is impossible not to feel good because it is they who welcome you.”
On Saturday, June 29, a total of 8 young people and 3 carers left Barcelona, Valencia and Seville to experience the “Work Camp” in Tangier, Morocco, in the “Lerchundi House”. Among them is Anna Puigbó who before leaving said: “I look forward to learning about the new reality, living it fully and profoundly, getting to know people, discovering things and growing as a person.”
In the forthcoming weeks, other young people will travel as volunteers in Guinea Conakry, Peru and Cambodia.
“The service of the volunteers reaches its fullness when their action is explicitly motivated and inspired by the Christian choice and by the witness of charity,” the Salesian document on volunteering reaffirms.