Chronicle – “Milonga has been the strongest experience of my life”
By Manuel Nacinovich
In 2019 Wilmar took a decision: for the first time ever he would go away from home for five months. He had never been away that long. He decided to leave Brazil to do the volunteering experience that milONGa offered him at the Rincón de Luz Foundation, in Bolivia. He experienced so many things there, that sometimes it is difficult for him to put everything into words.
Even so, he is sure, and affirms with certainty, that the Wilmar who for the first time stayed away from home for so long, was not the same person who returned after five months.
⇒ If you had to describe milONGa in one sentence, what would it be?
For me a word that describes very well the experience is sharing. While I was there in Bolivia I thought I was going to do something for the children who I went there to help and the truth is that the opposite happened, because I have received so much from them. I believe that sharing describes well the philosophy of milONGa.
⇒ And if we were to put this “sharing” word into a sentence, what sentence would you put together?
“Once we share our love, our hearts, it is possible to build a new society.”
⇒ What are the things that happened to you during your volunteering experience that you definitely did not expect?
I think I did not expect anything! All day long there was good news. This was the first opportunity to leave my country for a long time, for almost 5 months, and it is complicated when we leave our reality to live with other people and cultures which are different from what we are used to. I was very afraid of not getting used to it, partially because Brazil has a very particular culture compared to the other South American countries. But the exact opposite has happened.
When I was in Bolivia the family I lived with hosted me with so much love and affection that I did not have time to think about all the cultural differences. Another thing I did not expect was that language would not be a barrier. When I arrived I did not speak Spanish at all, but later I realised that it was not an issue, because we spoke with the language of love.
⇒ What was a normal daily routine like at the Foundation?
It was a day completely full of work, there were always situations that needed to be solved. Other than working with children, I collaborated with the shopping and the activities on the administrative end. It was never a normal day, it was always different. One thing that I really liked is that the directors put a lot of responsibility on us, so we were in charge of a lot of things.
⇒ Working with kids has two sides, on one hand it is very tiring, on the other hand it is very enriching, but it is intense…
I feel very grateful for all the good things that the children did for me. They were the ones who gave you all the strength you needed for the day. When I was missing my family and my friends from Brazil, they always said something beautiful, we had a chat or a moment of friendship that helped me. I still think about those memories today. I think that children can contribute a lot, with their simple life, with their little things, their hugs, their words. In Bolivia, they were my fuel.
⇒ What is the greatest lesson that the kids taught you?
They lived in a very poor neighborhood, in the suburbs of the city of Cochabamba. Despite this, they always had a smile on their faces. I do not remember one day that they were in a bad mood. They were always smiling. And that was one of the reasons why I also always started the day with a smile on my face, even if I was sad or tired. The bond with the children was very strong.
⇒ Would the Wilmar of today be the same if he did not do the volunteering experience in 2019?
It is impossible to go back to being the same person. It was the strongest experience of my entire life. I experienced very intense and very strong things, not only on a personal level but also professionally. In Brazil I work on social projects, and from the volunteering experience with milONGa I understood more of what I should do to complete the ideas I have. New studies, new experiences outside of Brazil… all thanks to what I experienced in Bolivia.
⇒ If you had to recommend milONGa to a friend, what would you tell them?
I already invited several friends to do the volunteering experience! I am a strong defender of milONGa because I know the importance that all of this volunteering has made. I have no words to describe it… simply I would like everyone to go, it would be a very interesting mission. It is not just to donate, but something that we all build together.