Claudia, Hannah, Maddie and Paris are our Aussie Roadie girls and are with us for three months volunteering with kids here in Buenos Aires! Hear what they have to say about their rewarding and unforgettable experience with Road2Argentina!
Where do you volunteer in Buenos Aires (what does the organization do): We have the privilege of volunteering with Pilares, an organisation devoted to infant and maternal health in some of Buenos Aires most marginalised communities. Although there are many initiatives run within Pilares, our work focuses on the Mother-Child program in Conin, a slum located on the border of the city. Here, mothers receive cooking classes as well as access to a range of health professionals e.g. nutritionist, paediatrician and psychologist.
Describe a typical day volunteering: The day starts by setting up the child-care room whilst mothers and children eat a breakfast provided by the organisation. Soon enough, kids come upstairs ready to engage in art, Lego, puzzles, board games, dancing to the latest radio hits, imaginative play.. The list goes on. With sometimes up to 15 kids, ageing from 2 months to 10 years old there’s always plenty to do! Our job is pretty simple: create a fun, safe environment for these kids and give their mother’s time to benefit from the aforementioned support of the organisation. After the children are collected, we tidy up the room and if needed, also lend a hand stacking and organising supplies like food and formula.
Why volunteering is important in Buenos Aires: Volunteering is important full stop! When it comes to Buenos Aires however, there is still a staggering percentage of people living below the poverty line. Pilares supports sustainable, self-motivated, grass-root change for communities, giving individuals and families the tools needed to break out and stay out of poverty. It’s a crucial responsibility of those in the position to do, to get involved and give back in such ways to communities in need.
The most interesting thing you’ve done or your biggest accomplishment as a volunteer: It’s difficult for us to pin point one thing! It comes down to the smallest things, like stopping a kid from crying and making them laugh or rocking a tiny baby to sleep amidst the daily chaos of the room! Simply being involved with and getting to know these kids has given us so much joy and pride.
The greatest challenge you’ve faced in Argentina: The greatest and most significant challenge would be the good old fashioned language barrier! Despite some of us taking a few Spanish classes before we came here, nothing is like the real thing. We’ve gotten ourselves into some pretty interesting situations e.g. getting lost in the Iguazu falls rainforest and getting ripped off by taxis. Even now that we’ve gotten a whole lot more confident, people still look at us like we’re crazy on a daily basis.
Another challenge, although something we’ve come to love, is “Argentime.” We think it’s safe to say that we’ve all become nocturnal. When we aren’t having to get up at 6:30 for volunteering, we’re sleeping in till as late as 4 in the afternoon having come home at 7am.. But hey, at least we’ll beat the jet lag coming home right??
The most valuable thing you’ve learned: Be flexible, be spontaneous, a little impulsive and push yourself beyond your comfort zone. This place is full of surprises. So many of the great finds that we’ve made here (particularly in regard to food) have been the result of making mistakes and getting lost. Talking to random locals is the best when it comes to practising your Spanish and getting the inside goss on the true Argentine favourites. Do not be afraid of making a fool of yourself!
One of the things we’ve admired most whilst being here is the way in which Argentines value family life and are far more open when it comes to sharing their personal lives.
Also – Spanish music is the best.
Your favorite memory in Argentina: Impossible question to answer!! When it comes to Pilares, a fond memory of ours is when we were recognised as staff members and invited to their annual Asado!
Our trips to Mendoza and Iguazu have been definite highlights. The horse riding and wine tasting in Mendoza were the best. In Iguazu, zip-lining across the rainforest canopy, abseiling down a waterfall and our personal favourite, speed boating through the falls and getting absolutely hammered by water.
Of course, our time here would be nothing without the roadies! We’ll never forget the very first dinner we shared at Simon’s house, where we also claimed the winning title in the empanada-making competition.
The best moment in your housing: Our very first home-cooked meal followed by doing our Spanish homework together! Spending time on the rooftop of our hostel either chilling out or sharing asados with the many friends we’ve made from all over the world. We’ve loved living in Recoleta and despite having shared a room the size of a shoe box between the four of us we haven’t killed each other (yet).
Your goal before leaving: Consume as many kilos of Rapanui (our favourite ice cream in BA) as humanly possible. We want to keep finding new things right until the end of the trip, soaking up every last bit of what has been the most incredible experience for all of us.
One fun fact about Buenos Aires (and you): We witnessed Disclosure (one of our favourite bands) play their first ever concert in BA!
Biggest tip to newcomers: Take every single opportunity that comes your way, be prepared for the unexpected, make a fool of yourself and embrace the inevitability of getting a little chubby on empanadas and chori-pan.
Why choose Road2Argentina: Because you’d be stupid not to! Road sets you up with the best kind of support network; one that provides you with all the resources you need to settle in whilst ensuring that you feel independent and self sufficient in your new surroundings. Offering a wide range of weekly activities catering to all interests, Road2Argentina promotes friendships with a great bunch of people from all over the world. We can’t stress enough how much our Roadie community has meant to us whilst we’ve been here!! Would recommend Road to everyone and anyone!
Ready to embark on an adventure of your own? Contact us now for more information!
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