The value of the listening, the value of the silence.
My name is Alessandro Moraes and I am 27 years old. I participated as a volunteer at the milONGa Project at the Secretary of the Youth for a United World Milonga School– EJMU (Vargem Grande Paulista/SP, Brasil), and later through milONGa, I was at the Familia Ya Ufariji Orphanage (Nairobi/Kenya).
In 2016 in Vargem Grande Paulista/SP, I mainly worked in the organization of the secretary and the first library of EJMU. In that period of time, I strongly felt that I was building, along with the other young people that were part of the project, the realization of a dream that was precisely this school. Encouraged by this lived reality with this experience, I felt the desire of another one. After graduating, I wanted to do another volunteer project, only that this time it was further away, in a culture different than mine.
And like that, in 2018 I left to Kenya to work in the Fathers of the Consoled Orphanage at the Family Ya Ufariji Institute; an orphanage that receives children in a socially vulnerable situation and has a primary school. There, I was able to work in the school’s office, in the orphanage’s kitchen, at the orchard planting vegetables, milking cows; in summary, helping children with their chores around the house.
For me, participating in milONGa was perhaps the way of fulfilling my desire of being the protagonist of the realization of a better world, building spaces of fraternity and interchange. I wanted to do my part and I embarked on this adventure, doing a period of volunteer work, always with the perspective that when you go to the encounter with the other, you never come back empty; you come back more enriched than when you arrived.
After these months of volunteering, I returned full of memories; there were moments which were gratifying doing the work that I set myself to do, but in reality, this was only the exterior part of what one really does in an experience such as this one.
More than completing a specific activity, in this project one really lives, changes your life and makes you feel full of the reality of the other.
The most important thing, in my opinion, are the relationships that are built, every stare, every hug, every conversation, are unique and are totally encased in a sacred character because it is the moment in which the other person carries you in their heart and you carry them in yours.
The volunteer is, above all, someone that thrust themselves in accepting the reality of the place where he/she is going to work, not putting himself/herself as the “Savior of the Country”; goes in with the perspective of finding how they can be useful for that community and create, after that, concrete relationships that are later on expressed in the service that each one will be able to do to help focusing on the necessities.
One of the things that I learned the most in milONGa and will carry in my life was the immeasurable courage of listening.
One of my personal characteristics is that I am restless and I love to talk a lot. I learned to value silence; the beauty of taking my time to listen what the other person has to say, ridding myself of any prejudice or having an answer to be heard by the person who needs it, by giving him/her the space, and if in the end, the person wants to know what I have to say, we can build together solution for that difficulty.
Today, after many months of having finished the experience, I see how it continues to be alive, not only in the many happy stories that I tell or in the pictures that are in my cell phone and on the walls in my house, but it is alive because I can always recreate it in my daily life. I always try to embrace the other as he/she is and the manner in which he/she needs to be embraced, independent of his/her political position, gender, social class, origin, and culture.
I feel that the Milonga project experience was and is alive every time that I lay fraternity bridges with everyone.
Looking back, it is good to feel that it was worth it; it was worth it to empty one self and make room for the other, and that what is left is an eternal gratitude for the beautiful moments that were lived, for the fantastic persons that I met. And finally, an invitation for others to embark on this adventure that is worth living.