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To be present beyond the distance

The online volunteering experience at Casa Do Menor in Brazil

My name is Xhovana, I am a student and a worker. I chose my professional career after a oneyear work experience in an association that works on social issues. My wish is to be able to help others and leave my mark in society. I want to know that my life has served a purpose. When I came to know the Focolare Movement (about two years ago), I felt this desire even more strongly and I met many people who share this same point of view.

Knowing my passion, a friend told me about the milONGa project and I immediately understood that it was the right experience for this period of my life. After constantly visiting the website and doing rigorous research, the first project that caught my eye was the Casa do Menor in Fortaleza, Brazil. I would like the opportunity to contribute by offering my help to those who need it.

In addition, I would like to be able to make available everything that I have learned and am learning during my time in college, but above all, transmit the values and teachings that I have learned by living this lifestyle that I share with other girls. I would like the opportunity to move from theory to practice. In addition, I need to enrich my cultural experience and discover new realities.

Although the journey has not yet begun, strong and intense bonds have already been created. Together with Antonella, another volunteer, and Vaudete, our tutor who follows us step by step along this path, we have formed group to help begin this experience together, even if it is from a distance. This experience that we are doing is indescribable, I only know that it is something authentic and sincere.

Although we are all in different countries, when we talk with each other and see each other on video calls, it is as if the distance ceases to exist. In Antonella I found a sister. Even though we speak different languages and have different life experiences, we always find ways to understand each other. Vau, for her part, is the older sister, ready at any moment to support us in our ideas and give us the appropriate advice

Although it is not yet possible to go to the Casa do Menor, I can say that I have already experienced many of the feelings and emotions that I would have liked to experience as a volunteer. The most important thing I think is Presence, as Father Renato (founder of Casa Do Menor) tells us; the fundamental thing is precisely Presence, to be there at any moment and to give one’s life for the other. The closeness to the other allows us to carry out any project. And we experience this every day among our small group.

During our meetings, a strong desire was born in me to do my graduate thesis on the “Pedagogical Presence” that Father Renato has taught us about. Pedagogy is the theory and practice of learning, and how it influences and is influenced by the social, political, and psychological development of learners. I will delve into this intuition because I think it is important to make it known to more people, and there is no better environment to study this than the university.

While we wait for the opportunity to be physically present in Fortaleza; Antonella, Vau and I ave started a kind of online volunteering. During which we will start an exchange with the children from the Casa do Menor. Our intention is to get to know each other and foster an experience of communion and intercultural dialogue, using a universal language: love.

Despite the geographical distances that separate us, love can unite us and this exchange can enrich us all. We feel more capable, and closer to accomplishing our goal of a more united world.

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