Organisation: Bolivian Children’s Charity (BKHW for its German initials)
Lidia Albarado Zurita came from Bolivia to Germany for one year. She did her voluntary service at the Etzelfarm through the Bolivian Children’s Charity (BKHW) in Stuttgart. Etzelfarm is a farm with animals that provides diverse, experiential educational opportunities for children. Thanks to her experience in volunteer service, Lidia was able to implement a project for children in Bolivia after her return.
Why did you decide to do volunteer service in Germany?
I opted to do volunteer service because I like to work in the social field. Besides that, I like to learn new things and I think it’s great to gain new experiences. Encountering different cultures and learning from these encounters has a great impact on personal growth. I wanted to share this experience with others. Learning a new language and leaving my comfort zone at home were additional motivations. This opportunity was provided by the Bolivian Children’s Charity in Stuttgart, which is part of the “weltwärts” program. I chose Germany because I already knew some German and wanted to learn more about the country.
Coming into contact with different cultures and learning from these encounters has a great impact on personal growth.
What were your reasons for applying for this particular project?
Through my previous work with the Centro Cultural Ayopayamanta NGO in Bolivia, I already had experience working with children. However, I chose this project not only on account of the children. The fact that there are animals on the farm also delighted me. I love interacting with children around animals! That’s why this position was the perfect place for me to have an incredible experience.
What were your duties at the farm?
My duties were to spend time with the kids, teach them about animals and learn new things together, such as making jewellery. I am totally passionate about all these things and always looked forward to my work. Witnessing how excited the kids were to learn something new made me enormously happy.
It can be challenging to be away from your homeland and family for so long. How did you deal with homesickness?
Fortunately, I can say that I never felt homesick. By being very busy and always having my loved ones with me in my heart, it felt like they were actually by my side. For me, it was like I had only been away from home for a week.
Is there a funny or exciting anecdote from your volunteer service that you would like to share with us?
Ludwig is one of the pigs on the farm. It was always stealing the bags of the visitors looking for bread or other edible things. We would then have to chase him all over the farm to take the bags back.
How would you describe the “weltwärts” program in just one word?
My year as a “weltwärts” volunteer had a great impact on my life
What impact did the volunteer service have on you?
My year as a volunteer had a great impact on my life. Thanks to this opportunity, I was able to launch a social project in Charahuayto. This project concerned a school library. Charahuayto is an outlying district of Cochabamba, located in the mountains. There were no learning materials there until now. This is true of almost all schools in the rural areas of Bolivia: There are no libraries that the children could use to read, play or learn new things. So in the outlying areas, there is a great need to create space for these things. With the support of the Bolivian Children’s Charity and the Baden-Württemberg Development Cooperation Foundation, I was able to make my idea come to life and create such a space. Local children now have a place to go to play games, learn musical instruments, read books of various genres for all ages and use the computers.
Do you have any advice for other South-North volunteers?
The advice I would give to future South-North volunteers is: Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly! If you have been given this wonderful volunteer opportunity, then afterwards you can share your experiences and create projects to kick off change! Maybe you can’t make a big change in society as a whole, but we start with small things, and these small things will grow, and this growth can lead to something great. Education is the greatest weapon that society has. Education is the basis for moving towards a society where people live in peace with one another.