National Volunteer Story: Decisions with Experiences

“Uncertainties invaded me at the beginning of this journey as a Mentor. Am I doing a good job? How will I do my best? They were just some of the questions that came up. Once I had the student assigned to me and began to work with her, it turned out that I learned by learning from her. Yes, I learned that there is always a reason to move forward; that if you have the desire and commitment to move forward, it is possible, regardless of the difficulties that may be around us, such as family, money, society, friends among other excuses we seek to justify our current situation. The way in which she expressed herself and the euphoria with which she told me her goals and dreams, generated in me a greater commitment to continue with what I had started, to be a mentor at Safe Passage.”

For the rest of Guatemalan volunteer Rony’s story, continue reading. To read the Spanish version, see here.

Throughout life we get to know a large number of people. As we meet these people, each of them makes a small contribution to our lives; it is up to us to make the decision to accept the gift that comes without packaging, these we call experiences. Each of the experiences are unique and of great significance; from each of them, we have the opportunity to take advantage and take the good we learn from them to be a better version of ourselves.

How many times have we encountered a situation more than once? Most likely several times, and maybe we have not paid the proper attention in those situations and we must be alert to that; who knows if behind that situation there are hundreds of experiences to discover? I ask this question since this was my case; for more than once I learned about Safe Passage through social conscience talks, some course at University or through conversations with other altruistic people. The first time I was introduced to the project, I admired its founder Hanley Denning for her commitment and tenacity, her dedication to the children and young people who survive from their only source of income, the municipal garbage dump in Guatemala City.

Then, the second and the third times that I learned about the project, there was no doubt that until that point, my interest had been growing little by little. Staying as a spectator is comfortable …until a certain point.

The accumulation of energy and desire to be part of this family generated in my person the decision to make a change (which at that time I considered minuscule). So I took my computer and reviewed the Safe Passage website for the first time, as I must say that every great action begins with small steps. That small step allowed me to know in which ways I could be part of the team, be part of the change for an entire community immediately with short and long-term results. While reviewing this web page, my vision expanded; I learned that there is more than one way to support and serve, it’s just a matter of taking a couple of seconds and observing what we can offer because everything, EVERYTHING will help: the ideas, knowledge, donations, time, and now in this digital era, the likes, share this or that publication, and so on. I could continue to list a large number of actions that allow us to contribute to this great project.

A short time later, the challenge to act became more and more real to me; the opportunity to join the team had arrived. Along with one of my cousins, Erick, we set out on this new experience. We both knew that like everything else in life, a new beginning was going to be complicated, but that it would be worthwhile. Our initiation began with an interview to be able to let us know and determine what would be the best area where our characteristics would fit and have better benefits.

Once I was part of the project, I met so many diverse people, each one very good at what they do and without any doubt, they were where they should be. Working with other volunteers added new points of view, developing new skills and generating new ideas on how to start with the right foot at the program that I had chosen to be part of, the Mentoring Program. Uncertainties invaded me at the beginning of this journey as a Mentor. Am I doing a good job? How will I do my best? They were just some of the questions that came up. Once I had the student assigned to me and began to work with her, it turned out that I learned by learning from her. Yes, I learned that there is always a reason to move forward; that if you have the desire and commitment to move forward, it is possible, regardless of the difficulties that may be around us, such as family, money, society, friends among other excuses we seek to justify our current situation. The way in which she expressed herself and the euphoria with which she told me her goals and dreams, generated in me a greater commitment to continue with what I had started, to be a mentor at Safe Passa

My time as a volunteer in Safe Passage has been very useful, we all win. Young people from the community, with the support of each of the volunteers and the team in general, are growing not only academically, but also professionally while being accompanied in important processes such as the selection of a university, career, or the beginning of a first job; these are some of the privileges and responsibilities that both young people and volunteers face. On the other hand, we volunteers learn from many points of view, we grow academically along with the students, reviewing and updating ourselves within formation and avant-garde material, humanly by knowing the goals and vision of each one of the youth, and by interacting with the Safe Passage community.

I am totally sure that if you are part of this, in any way you can support, the experience will also contribute and add to your life in such an extraordinary way.

And finally, the most important contribution is made to the community of the garbage dump and to the development of a nation through education, by breaking cycles of poverty and opening new doors that contribute to forming better citizens, better professionals, and better human beings. Being part of the project and the Safe Passage family allowed me to know that the decisions I made were not too late or precipitate; they were at the right time and in the right way since there is more than one way of doing things. Everything lies in the decisions and actions that we take.

Now I ask you, what decision are you next to take? Whichever that is, remember to choose the one that fills you with experiences and contributes positively to your life and even better if it contributes to the life of someone else in order to add positive changes and generate better people for a better future.