Pedro Arrupe Volunteering turns 20 years

If your reply is affirmative, you need to know that you are not the only one. You are contributing in this "small" whish, maybe a wish that you keep secretly. Though it is neither easy nor agile and it often supposes swimming rivers to cross-current without being able to save the clothes, you are not the only person.

That is great! That means that we do not have to do it alone and there are many mediators to keep the sense of the course. These words talk about one of this mediator. They are particular persons with their own life and family: Aurora, Marta, Mª Carmen, Amador, Eduardo, Mª Luisa, Juan, Paloma, Miguel, Roberto, Javier, María, Ana, Josetxo, Amaia, José, Paula, Marisa, Gustavo, César, Mariana, Gemma, Raquel, Luis, Andrés, Isabel, Francisco, Oscar, Iván... more than 600 names since 1996. They have made possible a small community and personal "Utopia" through the International Volunteering Pedro Arrupe Program (VOLPA).

The Jesuit NGO ALBOAN and Entreculturas with VOLPA Catalunya, are the responsible institutions for this program in Spain. The mission of VOLPA program is to convert into agent of change to these people who are teaching to do the volunteering in one of the communities of the poverty countries. But, what is an "agent of change"? If you have ever met someone who make you want to be a better person, to treat the rest better and to live more consistently with respect to the view of people in needs, so you have met an "agent of change".

The proposal is not easy, but it is made with passion. A basic attitude of credibility and trust is deeply rooted in the fundamental principles of human existence. Certainty we all are called to build a common human house, as said by García Roca, and the conviction that there are not ways out without poor people. An invitation to discover the power of "me" to "we", from the individual to a person in relationship with other people. Relationship in particular that becomes more human with each other.

How does the proposal come to fruition?

Twenty years later, the basic essence of the proposal is alive and valid. This proposal is a reference and inspiration for other institutions and groups that have wanted to bring the World closer to this kind of mediation, even the Sur-Sur volunteering proposal like América Solidaria. With the fruits of our labor during 20 years, it is a sample the validity and wisdom in the transformation of worry into possibility in these founder persons and the other ones who got to systematize and deepened in their organization.
What is the next step after 20 years?

"Perforar la vida" ("To deepen your life"), an article written by Antonio García Rubio for Sal Terrae, he takes as reference the word "to deepen" to mention a style of life very well adapted to women and men of our society: postmodern people. This is the formulation of the VOLPA Program in Entreculturas as their ways of acting for next years. We could summarize it in the following points:

To deepen inward:

  • VOLPA Program must continue as an active proposal in the fight again poverty and the communities are their reason for being.
  • The proposal for the volunteering people is to live this experience at the first-hand, knowing their culture, ways of life...putting some of their own principles and beliefs into brackets in such a way that they are tolerant.
  • Pedro Arrupe, who inspired this program, expressed his fear when he said "we can solve tomorrow's problems with yesterday's answers". This is the challenge of teaching in the program: solving today's problems with tomorrow's answers.
  • As institution for the volunteering, we are responsible for creating a platform for incoming volunteers where we can pledge their role as agent change in their environment and community.

To deepen outward:

  • To recognize and show the role of the international volunteering as creator of social capital and someone who takes an active role in the Spanish Cooperation.
  • To collaborate with other institutions that promote the international volunteering. The key of this success will be work coordinated to create a proposal to fight against poverty from a global and awkward society.
  • The international volunteering experiences create social capital from the collaboration among the groups of human communities that send and receive to the volunteers. We get through these experiences a mutual trust, effective rules and social networks that make the understanding, comprehension and global work easier among different human groups when they seemed distant at the beginning.

The meaning of "to deepen the reality" for the international volunteering VOLPA is to look for the justice on the World. For that, we have more resources than ever. As Garcia Rubio explained:
"This meaning involves the capacity of surprise based on going into the daily reality what supposes a defined style of being and acting". The way to humanity. To deepen the life is to be aware of a better World anywhere. It is possible if the human race looks for the authentically human in the happiness, monotony, injustice and lack of hopes of the victims who are defenseless of this society. (Rubio)