Dylan Quinn McMahon and David Lennon - General Care Projects in Argentina
Going abroad can be a daunting experience for anyone, but especially for two 17-year-olds travelling across the world to Argentina. Of course, this kind of apprehension can expected from anyone making this kind of journey. However, as two teenagers who made it back to tell the tale, we couldn’t recommend Projects Abroad more.
Adjusting to the weather in Argentina was difficult, even though we both came from the Irish summer. Nevertheless, from the moment we stepped off the plane Projects Abroad staff made the effort to make us feel at home. From food to social traditions, Argentina offered so many new and exciting experiences. Personally, we would recommend drinking Mate (a traditional beverage in Argentina) and gorging on Asado (traditional barbeque).
Staying with a host family in Cordoba
Not that we are in any way biased, but it just so happened that we had the best host mom in all of Cordoba. Luckily for us, from the moment we arrived we felt part of her family. Though there were language barriers, at no time during our stay did we feel isolated. After work each day, we could expect a big smile as we walked through the door, followed by a delicious traditional meal. With warm cosy beds and a loving family, we were very emotional when we had to leave.
We decided to make this journey because we wanted to offer some help at our placement. From the start, we knew the Care project offered exactly what we wanted. Projects Abroad offered us the opportunity to become involved in some of the most rewarding experiences on the planet. What these placements want, what they need, are innovative energetic volunteers that are willing to go the extra mile. For example, in our placement we regularly volunteered to work extra hours and even built a new swing for the children in the yard.
Catching the bus at about 7.30 each morning, we would take the one hour journey from our house to the Care placement. In the beginning the idea of such a long trip on a crowded bus sounded miserable. Nonetheless, we never felt anything but energetic and enthusiastic. Upon arriving at Chirinos de Posadas, the bus stop for the centre, it would be fair to say that we were a quite stunned. With dirt track roads and houses so badly constructed that they were virtually uninhabitable, we were more than a little apprehensive about our placement.
However, to our amazement, among the slummy housing, Los Pimpollos white exterior and rainbow banner shone like a beacon of hope. The kids we worked with each day were a mixture of boys and girls between the ages of two and six. Though they were living in some of the worst housing conditions we had ever seen, they arrived at the centre each day with big smiles.
Each day was filled with dozens of activities and tasks to be carried out, but we never got tired. With the enthusiasm of the children and the staff in the centre, we had never been more excited to work in our lives.
Four weeks after arriving, our time was up. While the children played outside on their new swing, the coordinator at the centre had to explain to the kids how their new friends from Ireland “had to leave and wouldn’t be back”. It would be fair to say that we both had a lump in our throat. Even though we had never imagined it, we had grown attached to the people there in a way that we will never forget. Saying goodbye was one of the hardest things either of us ever had to do.
Despite all their daily problems, the children of Los Pimpollos gave us only smiles and giggles. Though we had to leave them, I can guarantee they will never leave our thoughts.
Do we recommend you should go to Argentina for a month like us? No, if you can, we’d recommend going for a year!
Dylan Quinn McMahon and David Lennon
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.