I feel very lucky to have volunteered in Brazil during the World Cup. We watched matches at different projects with our students and it added to the experience. Rio was packed with people from all over the world and there was this buzz in the air. Of course, it was great just to be in Rio during the games but I feel my experiences were enhanced by the people I was able to share this with. I didn’t have tickets for any of the matches but many of us went to Copacabana beach to watch the games and I can still feel the energy.
I met some amazing people whilst living in the house. I made good friends with people from back home, the States, Australia, Canada and Cyprus in particular. I connected with people on different levels and whilst we were from different cities, from different culture backgrounds, we all had something binding us together; our appetite to see the world and to serve the people. We were all in the house volunteering while we could just have easily been backpacking around or at work. I shared some amazing moments with the volunteers; we cooked, went out partying, shared endless beers and caipirinhas and explored parts of Brazil together. The house was filled with laughter and love and some crazy times.
I loved my project. I feel extremely privileged and lucky to have volunteered at Jocum Borel. I gained so much from my experience, from the women I taught, from the children and from all of those running the project. I became part of a family without intending to or realising it. My heart broke when I left, I had become attached to these beautiful people but I was leaving them behind. One of the women gave a beautiful speech at my leaving due and I couldn’t hold back my tears any longer. I will return to this project some day, I will come back and converse with them in Portuguese. When I left, I think it was clear how much of an impact they had had on my life and it was beautiful.
As I volunteered during the World Cup, it wasn’t cheap. It would have been cheaper to have volunteered before or after the games. But then, it was such a valuable and unique experience.
If you are looking to do something amazing, to be surrounded by beautiful, kind, caring people and make a difference, volunteer at Jocum Borel. You will gain in so many ways and change and grow through the experience. Go with a open mind and heart and it will be an experience you remember for life. The only hard and heart breaking part will be saying good bye.