I wanted to volunteer abroad. For three days, I volunteered at the Guarani indigenous village of Peruti in the province of Misiones, Argentina. This was with the same organization I was volunteering with in Buenos Aires.
There’s about 1,000 people living in this village and with at least 300 to 400 children. Most families have multiple children at a young age. A 28 year old being a grandma for example. A few families do work but with extremely low pay and others are supported through the government though that is obviously not enough. Education is also poor. Parents are uneducated and have very little to teach their children as they grow up. This creates a cycle since the children are uneducated and will grow up to have their own kids whom will also be uneducated. For what would seem to be common sense to us, is completely new to them. There are hardly any opportunities here. It’s not like the slums of Buenos Aires where they DO have choices to live better and have other options. Give someone an opportunity to live better in this village, and they’ll grab it.
We were there to provide food and clothes but most of all, hope. In between the endless amount of hours cooking, cleaning, serving, and handing out clothes – we were to play with the kids to just make them smile. They were not shy at all as they quickly grabbe us as if we had known them for years. We were treated more than just friends but also as part of their family. My nickname for the entire weekend was Michael Jackson simply because my name is Michael.
I was basically attacked by the kids. At one point I had three kids tackling me to the ground. Laughter and smiles in every corner of the room. We were all surrounded by them. Somehow I gathered a fan club from a group of 13 to 16 year old girls that wanted endless amount of pictures with me.
A little boy I think about 5 years old was hooked on me. He didn’t want to let go of my sight or arms at all. Every time I put him down, he would jump right back up or attack my leg. He asked for my camera nicely and though I was hesitant, the smile got me. He faced his hands up in a cup and gently took the camera. He grabbed the camera tightly and put his hands through the rope around his wrist securing it to make sure it didn’t fall. That was too cute. Saying good bye ended up being much more difficult than I had imagined.
Digital cameras were really exciting to them and most were really glad to have their pictures taken to see themselves on an LCD screen. The weekend ended with a dozen kids screaming fotos (picture) asking for more pictures.
It’s proven by what I’ve seen – money doesn’t create happiness – people do.
I have faith in humanity.