Looking behind the façade

Even though I could only spend six weeks in Brazil, I am sure I made a difference in their lives. And they made a difference in mine.

I came to Brazil after my first year of university and a lot of enthusiasm to leave my marks in another country far away from Europe. When I finally found the AIESEC SMART project, I was happy to volunteer while practicing the skills I learned at university.

On the 2nd of July 2018, I came to Brazil and my host-family was waiting for me at the airport. The first day was already a perfect dive into Brazilian culture. Starting off with the day of the Brazilian football match. The joy of the people is really inspiring and motivated me for the upcoming weeks of the project.

The SMART project is about the 17th of the Sustainable Development Goals: Partnership for the Goals. Me and my co-worker Monika from Poland who is also studying business came to the NGO Instituto Vida which was one hour away from my host-family’s place in Vitória, Brazil.

The NGO seemed to be in a very good condition since the children could go to school and also do other activities as surfing or judo. Furthermore, they provided many funds of toys and clothing. After the first week, I felt like the NGO was working very smoothly apart from some structural issues and also with the other volunteers. I did not realize the bigger issues of this country.

Frankly, this view changed after my first week. I really appreciated the happiness of all workers at the NGO and their interest in my culture. Many times though, I was confronted with shocking stories when for instance the director of the NGO told me that she did not know how to write or when another worker told me that she had difficulties in mathematics. A really sad incidence at my NGO led me to think about my project even more.

Since I was working at an orphanage, I started to compare myself with the children that were living there. How could I make their lives a little bit better? There are a lot of issues in this country, but after some time, I realized that the biggest issue is the lack of good education and perspectives. This is why my coworker and I started to raise money in order to empower girls at the orphanage. We created a fundraise campaign and tried to market this campaign on various channels.

Even though I could only spend six weeks in this country, I believe that I made my impact. And they made a difference in mine.

“After the project, I realized that I have become a much more conscious and positive human being.”

Especially the fundraising required a lot of stamina and hard work. On the other hand, the project also offered me the best friend group I could have ever asked for. I leave this experience and feel so motivated for my next AIESEC experience!

This post was written by Pia Schindera. Pia went on a Global Volunteer project powered by AIESEC in the Netherlands. We offer international volunteering projects and professional internships with the aim of developing leadership in youth. 

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