Starting my journey in Colombia
At the start of July 2019, my sister and I took the big leap to pack our bags and visit our family in Colombia. During this time I was still deciding on doing a volunteering job for AIESEC. It was my luck to have my sister as my AIESEC exchange participant manager. Our very short ties and her efficient work allowed me to go through the process in less than two weeks. I started searching for the perfect opportunity. After I had made a selection, I presented the remaining ones to my sister. She could give me very tailored advice since she knows my exact interests. In the end I decided to initiate the Un Mundo Mejor 19.2 project.
On the first day they gave me information about certain basic things you should be aware of when working with disabled kids. Soon after that, I could already start working. Tasks they would assign to the volunteers are feeding the kids, playing with the kids, helping with the supply of essentials and being of aid in the laundry. There was always something to do. And if it seemed like there wasn’t, you could always ask for a new task. This I already discovered in my first few days at the foundation, so through this assertive strategy I tried to be as much of a support as possible. In return people really gave me the feeling that my presence was genuinely appreciated.
The main thing I had to get used to, was the warmth and kindness of the Colombian people. At the foundation they received me with so much love, that I immediately felt at home. During the six weeks I got to meet many interesting people and to hear many fascinating stories. I made many friends and I know some of them will last a lifetime. Also at the AIESEC Andes committee in Colombia, the members were incredibly supporting of us and very open to initiate activities together to create a feeling of unity. This definitely functioned well, since I got to know all of the other participants and experience some very precious moments. This all made it actually very hard to say goodbye to the people and kids of the foundation as well as to my AIESEC friends.
The main thing that will stick with me forever is the attitude of the kids at the foundation. They have to live in a reality that’s very different from that of most people; coping with (multiple) disabilities and parents that abandoned them. And still, every day they fight to survive, to laugh, to enjoy life. This way they show the world that it should not be forgotten that they also have the right to a happy and dignified childhood. I absolutely love every single one of them and I am already looking forward to seeing them again. Thankfully, I know that I am returning. This consoled me on my last day at the foundation. So, that is why I did not say goodbye, but ‘Hasta la próxima Colombia!’.