Bianca Alvarado - General Care Projects in Argentina
After travelling for more than 20 hours with connecting flights, I finally landed in Argentina. I couldn’t even begin to wrap my head around all the emotions I felt within to be in a country millions of miles away from the comfort zone I never stepped out of until now. Shortly after getting my luggage that weighed a ton, I headed to meet the Projects Abroad faculty member that was waiting to take me to my host family.
I was a little nervous because I couldn’t find him at first but I quickly ran into another volunteer who would also be travelling with me to my home. Agustin arrived and we took a taxi to my host family. In the car ride there I was so amazed to see how beautiful Argentina was with a lot of similarities to my mother’s homeland, Honduras. After about 20 minutes of travel time we finally arrived to the place where I’d be living.
Just picture living in the middle of New York City and that’s exactly how my new home for the next month looked. Cordoba city was amazing! My home was a huge skyscraper building with lots of people walking around and corner stores everywhere. We were greeted by my host mom. We took the elevator to the 10th floor and quickly settled in. The welcoming host family made it easy to get accustomed to this new journey in my life. I was ready!
My Care Placement
The following Monday after my arrival I met with my placement coordinator whom I would meet with regularly to check on progress at my placement. Her name was Candelira. She was super sweet and helpful with whatever I needed and made sure to clarify what was expected of me at the placement. CeCam was an all-girls correctional facility with girls from ages 13-17 whom were in there for various crimes. Listening to this at first was a little scary but later that certainly changed.
That day I wasn’t scheduled to work, I just met the head director of the correctional facility and was shown by Candelira how to get to work. It was pretty awesome walking to work and enjoying the scenery of the busy city of Cordoba. My first day working at the placement, I met with another volunteer who had already been working there for some time. Since I was told that CeCam was one of the most challenging placements I was very nervous. However, little did I know that the very first day I would receive a very special moment with one of the girls.
Our job was to be interactive with the girls like a friend, we would plan arts and crafts activities and games, we would also part take in their gym classes and talk to the girls as well. That particular day all of the girls were playing, joking, and laughing except for one. I noticed that she was very sad and alone in the corner. I decided to talk to her and ask her if she was alright. She told me she wanted to leave so bad and was having a hard time.
I felt very sad to see this young girl in so much pain. “Do you believe in God?” I asked. “Yes! Of course!” “Well did you know that God will never put you through a situation which you cannot handle or a burden on your back which you cannot carry. I can only imagine how hard your situation must be but this shows how strong you are and I admire that!” I said.
She quickly began to cry and hugged me tightly. “Thank you so much! No one had ever gave me such encouraging words!” My eyes filled with tears and from that moment on I can say that Argentina changed my life! It was on my last day at the placement that I realised how much the girls really did love me when they signed a shirt for me and even gave me a little handmade present.
My Free Time
My free time in Argentina was of course spent exploring what the lovely country had to offer. I had quickly made a new best friend, Annelou! She was a sweet girl from Holland who I would literally go everywhere with! We went to La Cumbre where we got to see the El Cristo and also got to go horseback riding in the mountains. This was by far my favourite trip of all while at Argentina. We also went to La Falda to a tango festival.
Two weeks before my departure back to the states I finally got a roommate! Alex was just as sweet as Annelou and was also from the U.S. We travelled to Alta Garcia where Che Guevara was born. We got to visit the house he lived in as a child. Aside from traveling, Stephanie the social coordinator scheduled weekly socials where all the volunteers could go to get to know each other and make new friends. This is an amazing way to meet other volunteers to get the best of your trip!
I must say that I miss Argentina so much! It is such a welcoming place and I definitely plan to go back in the future!
This volunteer story may include references to working in or with orphanages. Find out more about Projects Abroad's current approach to volunteering in orphanages and our focus on community-based care for children.