Chronicle- “Beyond the borders of language, there is a universal language”
by Manuel Nacinovich
Antonella is part of a small group of milONGa volunteers who did their experience virtually. The pandemic forced her to modify her plans and she had to unpack the suitcases she prepared to go from her country Argentina to Brazil, to Casa do Menor, to work with children in vulnerable situations. “Instead of cancelling this volunteering experience, we made it virtual”, she explains.
But the distance was not a problem for her. Milonga was not only a space to give, but also to receive. “It is an experience that transforms you from the inside and will be reflected on your outside,” she says.
⇒ Out of everything you learned, what do you think was most important?
“That there is a universal language. It goes beyond borders and language barriers, beyond cultural and language exchange, it seems to me that if we use the language of love then we all understand each other. No matter what language we speak, we can understand each other. It also taught me that we have to persevere and to overcome obstacles. This is because the pandemic was not in our plans, and nevertheless from this obstacle another much better idea arose, that even kept us more in contact and that fraternal exchange which we were looking for could be given. It remained strong in me after the experience”.
⇒ How was not being able to go to the country but having to work behind a screen, during this virtual experience you had to do?
“The first technical difficulty was the language. There were three of us in my group and we were from three different countries, Argentina, Brazil and Italy. So the zoom meetings made our heads explode, because one spoke Portuguese, the other one Italian and I was speaking Spanish. We had to gesture the whole time to try to understand. I don’t know how but we managed to understand each other and it did come out, something very nice came out because we all contributed from the areas that each one knew about.”
⇒ What was your field?
“I was about to become a lawyer. I realised that those boys were living on the streets or they had judicialized family conflicts. I loved the project of Casa Do Menor, I saw it as a tool to give love especially to those boys who go through many difficulties.”
⇒ In this very particular routine, what was the routine of a normal day like?
“Firstly, we had to come up with a schedule that saw us meeting together at 3pm. Then, we had to plan and translate, because we usually used Spanish or Italian for our plans and then we had to translate into Portuguese. For all of this our milONGa tutor was like an older sister for us, she guided us, she was always ready to answer all our questions”.
⇒ Since you were doing it virtually, you did not change much your normal routine that you always have in your country, right?
“No, and that was a challenge. Because with this milONGa project we wanted to incorporate an idea of love and brotherhood. It was challenging to use these in my everyday life during difficult situations, but I had to stop to take deep breaths and tell myself ‘I have to be consistent with what I want to preach’”.
⇒ What do you think was the greatest thing you learnt from the children?
“The simplicity that the little ones have in resolving their conflicts, I think this simplicity is like the lesson that I want to incorporate into my life. Nothing is so terminal as to live in anger. I learnt to value the simple aspects of life, to smile, that is something that the children incorporated into me”.
⇒ How is milonga still present in your everyday life?
“I did not know anything and I had a beautiful, charming experience, with so many good people that were ready to help you and advise you without even knowing you, out of pure goodwill. Sometimes one distrusts the goodness of people, because on the news they make it seem like everything is bad, that there are no good genuine gestures. Today I can tell that there actually are, there are many people who preach and practice that, and it is what fulfills me the most. Before, I didn’t do a lot of volunteering, and today I feel that if I am not participating in something I feel as if I’m empty. MilONGa has infected me with wanting to do good”.
⇒ If you had to recommend Milonga to a friend, what would you tell them?
“I would tell them that it is a one way road. That they should go because they will not regret it. It is an experience that transforms you from the inside and will be reflected on your outside”.
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