"Changing one single person can change the lives of many"
What are the most important character traits that volunteers should have?
Lourdes Jibaja: The most important thing is gentleness, since we work with people who were disadvantaged in life. The Peruvian state hardly addresses the care and protection of children, women and the elderly, so there are hardly any social or nursing offers for disadvantaged population groups despite such laws. Furthermore, the volunteers should have humour and tolerance, for example, with regard to the strange habits or the hygienic conditions in some of our communities of assignment.
How have you supported the dedication of volunteers so far?
Lourdes Jibaja: If the volunteers spend three weeks in the rainforest and help build the supply of drinking water, for example, they feel like they are actors of change. However, they also cause a change in the self-esteem of the remote, neglected communities and become strategic partners in this sense. They give people incentive and motivation, true to the motto: "If the volunteers do something for our community, we can also do it!".
Does weltwärts have an impact on your organisation besides by assigning volunteers?
Lourdes Jibaja: In collaboration with Freunde der Erziehungskunst Rudolf Steiners (Rudolf Steiner Friends in the Art of Education), we have learned a lot about project development and management. Support for small projects is also helpful, such as teaching and biological gardens, which the volunteers generate. Other small projects and ideas such as soup kitchens would die out if their initiators, individual volunteers, were to leave.
What do the volunteers take back from their assignment?
Lourdes Jibaja: Most volunteers find their assignment in the rainforest to be a particular high point in their life. The experiences they had, show them their own possibilities for changing things and for changing the lives of many people through their own point of view and action. They get below the surface.
What do you hope for from the volunteers?
Lourdes Jibaja: I would be happy if the service helped the volunteers to find their way in life in a world that is increasingly confusing. We offer the volunteers space in which they can develop and start something. They should not come with a list of things that they need, but rather search for ways to achieve things.
The interview was conducted by Daniela Schuster (Engagement Global).