Eva Borovnik - Human Rights in Argentina
Living in Cordoba
When traveling and being so far away from your country all on your own, first impressions are one of the things you never forget. That is why I will never forget how the Treboux host family made me feel. Warm faces on Julia y Alberto's face instantly made me feel at home. The house had a lovely smell of recently home-made food, my room with a nice comfortable bed with clean sheets and my two other housemates. Everything and everyone were so welcoming. And it wasn't just the first impression. The reality was hidden in my first moments spent in Cordoba.
Every single one of us living in that house had different daily occupations, yet we always made sure to sit and have a meal together at least once a day; always sharing our experiences from work, Julia and Alberto sharing stories from their lives, but most importantly, learning about each other’s culture.
Everyone can find some kind of a similar activity to participate in their home country. But that is the best part of Projects. The exchange. The exchange of experience, knowledge and everyday habits with everyone. Getting out of your comfort zone. That is what makes the project so rich. It's its cherry on top.
When volunteering you meet a lot of new people. Some of them have been on the project for quite a while, some of them are new, but you have something in common with every single one of them.
Our tasks consisted of office and field work. Field work couldn't function without office work and vice versa. But the intention of every single thing we had to do was to help the ones in need.
We worked in different institutions for girls. Once a week we visited an institution for miner delinquents and two institutions for abused girls of different ages. The idea was not so much to teach them, but to show them that one’s future isn't defined by their past. We talked about our experiences in life, them sharing theirs and us, volunteers, sharing ours. Our topics covered family violence, abuse, drugs, sex, alcohol, life values, ones responsibilities and goals in life, the girls always shocking us with all they had done and been through.
We also had a "free legal clinic", in other words, once a week we provided free legal consultations in one of the poorest neighbourhoods of Cordoba and at the food giveaways to the homeless on one of the city's squares. When a person needed help, we filled in our paper form, created a case in our system and then did everything we could to get the necessary done. People often asked us for help concerning their documents, divorce, everything connected with social security, finding a job, visas etc.
With a help of our lawyer Lalo and a social worker Vicky our group of volunteers, always working as a team, really did make a difference for some people. Based on their role one could easily say Vicky and Lalo were our "bosses". But the word doesn't really apply to them. They were our leaders. Always guiding us, helping us with ideas, opinions and knowledge that we sometimes lacked. Whenever we had any doubts, they were always at most one WhatsApp message away. They always accompanied us at all legal consultations, we also went together to court to listen to the famous La Perla trial. Not everyone has an opportunity to attend a genocide and crime against humanity trial.
There are a lot of things a volunteer consciously learns during their time on the project but there is also a part where you just cannot say "I learnt this or I learnt that". The experience just stays in you and waits for a moment in your life when it's going to come in handy.
You are literally surrounded by people from all over the world all the time. Not only did I work with my group of volunteers, we also hung out together in our free time. We went on daily trips, for example to the national park La Quebrada de los Condoritos to do some trekking.
Since we had weekends off, we could really enjoy everything Argentina had to offer. Some went even to Buenos Aires and Mendoza (I had been there before so I decided not to join them), so one can really explore not only Cordoba, but various parts of the country.
I only spent one month working with Projects but I wouldn't mind having spent a longer period of time there. It's very easy to adjust to the new environment, especially with the help of all the staff members, a host family and everyone you work with. The days pass by quickly and suddenly you realise your time has ended. Anyway, the experience stays forever.