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The experience of feeling part of a place, a team, a community

My volunteering in Brazil, Tabea Schär.

I was very excited to finally start the volunteering adventure. I wanted to get to know Brazil’s culture and people and throw myself into work with socially disadvantaged people. Through this experience, I wanted to find out if I would be able to do such work for a longer period of my life.

I was warmly welcomed by Vaudete (responsible for Milonga volunteers) and by all the people in Mariapolis Ginetta, community of the Focolare Movement, where I stayed. I immediately felt that I was part of the team and community, and that I belonged there.

I really enjoy being around people and the best thing about this experience for me was to be able to be surrounded by them every day.

What caught my attention in people of Mariapolis and also in SMF (Sociedade Movimento dos Focolares) office, is that the environments were marked by joy, honesty and trust. People have a smile on their face and treat each other with kindness and love.

I tried to participate as much as possible in the Mariapolis programs. As I didn't speak Portuguese, I've tried to learn everything I could and to be in contact with people, even if they didn't speak German or English.

In Bairro do Carmo social project, with the children, the language was not a big issue, because as soon as they met me, they symply started talking to me in portuguese. I tried to listen to them and tried to convey God's love in my actions. And so, I was very happy to go there and spend time with them.

The biggest challenge for me was to live alone in a small studio apartment, as I prefer to be surrounded by people all the time, and in silence old insecurities quickly surfaced. But at the same time, it was one of the best things that could’ve happened to me, because it gave me a new depth with God. I had many moments of silence with Him and I was able to really enjoy them.

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