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A journey, a project and an adventure to be experienced

God came to my house and asked for charity,

And I fell on my knees and cried


What may I give?”

“Just love,” He said.

“Just love.”

-St Francis of Assisi, Daniel Ladinsky

I planned this trip out of the blue, but it seemed like God had been planning it for a long time. I only had to voice it to a good friend of mine, Edimer, who told me: Then go with milONGa! I only heard a bit about the programme, but I did not hesitate.

Prima di partire avevo molti sentimenti contrastanti. Ero eccitata per l’avventura che stavo per intraprendere, spaventata per la situazione imposta dalla pandemia e un po’ nostalgica di non poter viaggiare con mio marito. Tuttavia, sapevo che l’esperienza sarebbe stato positiva. Speravo semplicemente di conoscere nuove realtà, nuove persone e di poter contribuire un po’ al progetto di riconversione ecologica che ha iniziato finora nella Mariapoli el Diamante.

Before I left I had a lot of mixed feelings. I was excited about the adventure I was about to embark on, scared about the situation imposed by the pandemic and a little nostalgic about not being able to travel with my husband. However, I knew that my journey would be good. I simply hoped to get to know new realities, new people and to be able to contribute a little to the ecological conversion project that started in the Mariapolis el Diamante.

From the moment I arrived at the airport I felt welcomed. First by Christopher and then by Lucas and Maria. I remember I smiled when I saw a sign on the wall in my room that read: Welcome Lizeth. And that was the beginning of the adventure.

It was not the first time I did volunteering, but it was the first time I did it with a fairly light suitcase or luggage. I did not have high expectations on a personal or professional level as I had on previous volunteering trips, I simply wanted to get to know, donate and just be there for the short time I could (1 month).

Thus, I started to support the ecological conversion project with little knowledge, but with the conviction of the importance that this transition to integral ecology has for the Mariapolis and the surrounding community. The first conversation I had about the project went something like this:

– Liz, you work on projects, right? – Yes, I do. – Well, I would appreciate if you could please help me coordinate.

What a big mission for such a short time! And where to start? I could have played a consultative role and delivered a robust project document with objectives, goals, indicators, resources, etc., but what good would that have been? So, I decided to focus on involving as many people as possible in this journey, so that they could feel like were essential and that every idea was taken into consideration.

The project will be put together by them and although I was sure that everything would be slower this way, that in the 30 days I was there for the progress would be minuscule, even today I am fully convinced that it will be worth it.

I started to make a couple of talks with some of the inhabitants and I did not know that these talks about the ecological project would become an excuse to get closer, to share our history, our dreams and uncertainties. We measured together the amount of waste generated in a week, which incidentally allowed me to understand all the work I have to do on a personal level to contribute to an ecological conversion.

Then each meal was an opportunity to share with different people, to get to know them and even to put myself in the hands of a beautiful hairdresser for a haircut. To just be. The month went by very quickly and I don’t know how much I contributed to the project. What I do know is that it left me with beautiful people in my heart and relationships to nurture.

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