Here are some insights of my experience in the past weeks:
The first thing tried to figure out was what the exact goal of the project is. Why do the kids come here every week? How does a gardening course help them? But soon I noticed that it is not about planting vegetables and learning/teaching about climate change. It is also about helping a group of young people from a disadvantaged area to become gardeners, so they can in the future have a dignified job with those skills. It's certainly not like volunteering in a school where your tasks are clear and you immediately know what you have to do and what you can expect. That was difficult for me at first, but as I tried to let go, I just took part in the daily life of Pacheco Community Centre and understood it better and better every day.
In my first weeks, I accompanied 11 young people, who come from the neighborhood and have been building the garden in the past year. They learned how to grow and harvest vegetables, built a little house that serves as a classroom now, and were part of building the big greenhouse in our garden. When I joined there were already tomatoes, basil, pepper and so much more veggies growing. All of that in only one year.
As we harvested vegetables, took care of the garden, painted the walls of the classroom or learned about commercial agriculture in theoretical classes, I also got to know the students better. I am 19 years old, and most of them are my age. I learned about the problems they have, their struggles with Argentinas education system, not finding work, or being pressured to study something they do not like. Many say that sometimes they feel "let down" by everyone around.
My very first emotional moment was when the class graduated. We organized a graduation party where they also were handed real Diplomas. Their families attended and it was incredibly touching for me to hear what changes the individual young adults underwent. One of the parents said that their son has changed so much throughout the year. He opened up, he is so much more confident now. This young boy had dropped out of school last year, and had recently told his parents he wanted to go back to this year. THIS showed me how much of an impact this project has. Not trough putting pressure on them , but trough making them work together on something. Demonstrating that work does not always have to mean suffering. Showing someone of what they are capable of, this boosts your confidence on so many levels.
It took me a while to realize it, but the second you understand it, you will feel part of this. You notice that you as an individual have the power to actually change something.And therefore, what I loved most about this Pacheco, is that as volunteer you are involved in the project, you are part of this, and you notice that you as an individual have the power to change something.
The people of the organization will treat you so wonderfully well I promise, don't hesitate just give it a try. You will gain so many experiences and insights. You will learn so much about the world and yourself. And I think this is what volunteering is about. Putting yourself behind, getting another perspective.