Voluntary work in Brazil: Get out of your comfort zone!

Next to the possibility to study abroad, there are multiple ways to gain more experience abroad. One example is to do a voluntary project. In November 2016, Coco van Kasteren, master student Finance, went to Brazil to do voluntary work through AIESEC. In this article Coco tells us about her experience.

I chose to go abroad with AIESEC because I wanted to stay for some time in a different country and get to know the life over there. Besides that, I wanted to help because I know how fortunate I am to be born in The Netherlands and not in some favela in Brazil.

What kind of project did you do?
The Gira Mundo project aims to give a world perspective to children and teenagers who doesn’t have access to culture through recreational activities related to relevant themes for their reality. The project has a total duration of six weeks and brings themes such as arts, sustainability, cultural diversity, sports and citizenship.

The NGO I worked for, Prossica, helps children who live in Favelas. Poverty, drugs, alcohol, abuse, teen moms and criminality, that’s reality to the people who live in the favelas of Fortaleza, Brazil. Prossica will take care of the children when they don’t have to go to school. Prossica is trying to provide these children with some kind of guidance.

“By teaching the kids to believe in something, social and personal values, sports, arts and by other activities, they are creating a safe environment for the kids to grow, learn and develop and to become something more.”

Besides extra education, the children get food and attention, something what they usually don’t get (enough) at home.
I was happy to contribute something to the good work Prossica is doing. Sometimes I gave some English lessons, but most of the time I played with the children or participated the sports activities. The children really needed some extra attention because most of the time they don’t get it at home. A lot of them were curious and asking so many questions about my country, my family, my house etc.

When did you do this project?
My project took place in November and December. I decided to raise money for Christmas presents. Most children at Prossica have a ‘godparent’ who sponsors them so they can have a Christmas present. But unfortunately not all children have a godparent so I asked all my friends and family to donate some money so I could buy Christmas presents for the children without a godparent.

Would you recommend current students to do a voluntary project abroad?
I think every experience abroad will help you in your future career, it is always good to learn about different cultures and to go out of your comfort zone.