What International Volunteers can do at a Youth Organization during a time of crisis
At the beginning of March, we were 10 volunteers in MOJU, Olhão. Spasiyana from Bulgaria, Quentin and Clémentine from France, Oleg and Gintare from Lithuania, Dragos from Romania, Mario and Yamila from Spain, Dārta from Latvia and Karolina from Poland. We were all placed in one of the three spaces MOJU has in Olhão where we focused on our purpose to help children and young people. Doing homework, activities, workshops, hip-hop and capoeira is just a glimpse of what we were doing when COVID-19 arrived in Portugal.
This is a hard time for everyone and all the things MOJU and its volunteers have been doing helps to stay connected until we can see everyone again. From March when the emergency state started in Portugal because of Corona Virus everyone has been busy and safe at home. Because of the virus, a lot of volunteers went to their home countries and were/are working from there. There are a lot of things that we do from home. MOJU made a daily challenge where everyone took photos like their favourite cartoon, movie, series characters, their best quarantine outfit, their healthy meals, workouts, studying and what everyone is doing while at home and it is a great way to use their imagination and creativity. This way we felt we were still together and did something new and different. They also did challenges with things you can find at home and make use of.
Dragos, Quentin, Spasiyana, Karolina helped the kids with their homework online, and for the kids that didn’t have a computer, the volunteers printed out their homework and brought it to them.Gintare made a drawing activity #Iamtheartist, where twice a week they met on Facebook and drew together. You could see how people drew, what it meant to them and all the different ways to interpret the words and the drawings. All the volunteers have had a lot of ideas for activities for the kids to do at home like how to make musical instruments for 25th April Carnation revolution, where we made carnations with what we had at home, Karolina and Spasjana started to upload videos where they taught English. Spasiyana, Quentin and Dragos did live interviews on Instagram and all of them were interesting to watch, like our coordinators where we got to know them more and talk about topics that interested everyone, the Olhanense football coach, a live concert online with a musician, they also interviewed the kids so they could have the same experience. You can see what everyone has been up to in the weekly video reports that Dārta and Clémentine were and are still making. Spasiyana, Quentin and Oleg had their Midterm training online and the newer volunteers Clémentine, Karolina, Ginatre, Mario, Dārta, and Yamila had their On-arrival training also online (on zoom) where we saw familiar faces, met new people and got to know about how other volunteers experienced non-formal learning in a different way than usual.
Everything we do is important to the kids as much as everyone else that works in MOJU, it’s a bit of sunshine in a dark time. All together we can overcome anything, and I believe that we are going to come out of this closer to each other and more aware than ever. This time has made us think about the things we can sometimes take for granted. We support each other and we are doing our best with the situation that we are in.
Dārta and Clémentine