Being a volunteer is not just working in an office or in a center with disabled people, or refugees: it is much more than that. It is stepping out of your comfort zone, a place where you feel so comfortable you don’t really want to leave as you’re afraid of the consequences. In my case I am doing my volunteer experience in Palermo, Italy, where I help out in a day care center for disabled people, and I must say that I am living wonderful moments outside my comfort zone. I am getting to know another country, another culture, meeting new people, even doing things that I have never done before. You can’t even imagine how enriching can be an experience like this.
The arrival in Palermo was a bit chaotic and incredible at the same time. I was sure of the decision I made and I was eager to start.
“Able Like You” is the name of the project we are carrying out. I work in a social cooperative, they call it “Family House” in here, because they actually look like a large family. They are adults with different disabilities, and the social workers help them perform different activities to enhance and improve their quality of life. They taught me that we do not need to speak the same language to understand each other, and small gestures, such as greeting each morning with two kisses, can make you feel special and this is always a reason to be happy. No doubt they have become important people for me here in Palermo.
The other important part of volunteering is the city where you live your experience. After these seven months, I must say that Palermo has become my home, a place where I spent unforgettable moments, sometimes it was hard but I’ve always thought that bad times can teach you a lot about yourself. Sicily has everything you might desire: friendly and open people who are willing to help you, a spectacular climate to enjoy in its incredible beaches, natural reserves and landscapes, and delicious food!
Two months after finishing my project, I can look back and remember those days in November. I am certainly happy to have participated in a project like the one I’ve just described: it has been an opportunity to learn many lessons and acquire new skills and, at the same time, to travel and get to know another region as charming as Italy.
I would tell anyone who wants to be part of such an adventure to just do it. As I said before, you have nothing to lose and it will provide you with lots of benefits, so Amunì, ragazzi, abbiamo solo una vita! – Come on guys, you only live once!
AnaIsabel Sanchez Zambrano, Able Like You III EVS Volunteer