Valentina from Ghana to Palermo: Volunteering was my way of giving something back to the EU

Monday 22 January 2024

Home » Experiences » Valentina from Ghana to Palermo: Volunteering was my way of giving something back to the EU

In the heart of Palermo, a city pulsating with history and culture, I embarked on this journey with CESIE. After completing my master’s in social work and craved an opportunity to make some impactful, contribution to the European society. Volunteering was a viable option, and through CESIE I had profound joy of positive impact in the lives of immigrant children and adults with disabilities in Palermo.

My volunteering journey kicked off at different organizations. In Ubuntu, my main hub, I found myself surrounded and engaging with children between the aged of 1-12 years, helping workers to care and support them with daily needs and schoolwork which I believed was a way to foster inclusion and social integration. There I had the opportunity to assist students with English language which was interesting. Secondly I also worked with a unique group of persons with various types of disabilities in La Fratenita which I enjoyed very much. Here I engaged in daily discussions with service users, assisted in helping with light tasks and creative activities which were organized such as musicals, drama, and creative artwork. Thirdly I collaborated with Ciclofficina, an organization the promotes sustainable mobility through the maintenance of abandoned bicycles. This was very fun as I was enthusiastic about learning how to ride a bicycle. These interactions introduced me to the diverse stories and challenges faced by Palermo’s population, fostering a deep sense of connection with the city.

Palermo’s rich cultural diversity offered another dimension to my volunteering experiences. I was introduced to some sweets and local delicacies like arancina which I enjoyed very much. I collaborated with organization projects like GEA and Folklore and storytelling projects which were very enjoyable and educative. Through this, I developed a profound appreciation for the importance of cultural preservation in fostering a sense of identity. I also loved the opportunity to travel to other parts of Sicily and experience different cities and towns. I also had the opportunity to listen and communicate in Italian which was very impressive.

My journey was not without its challenges, I faced moments of frustration and shock; however, these obstacles fuelled my determination to contribute to positive change. It was also nice to stay and collaborate with other volunteers to work and survive together. This was with great help from CESIE particularly Cinzia and Giulia. Through this journey, I discovered the true essence of community and the interconnectedness of all its members. Volunteering was my way of giving back to the EU and in return, I found myself enriched with invaluable experiences, lifelong friendships, and a heightened sense of purpose.

As I reflect on my time volunteering with CESIE and the local organizations in Palermo, I carry with me a renewed sense of hope and a commitment to continue making a difference. My journey stands as a testament to the enduring impact of community when guided by a genuine desire to create positive change.

Valentina Esi Afful

ESC Volunteer – Sharing solidarity 2023

Youth Unit