December 5, International Volunteer Day

This year, Volunteer Day has been very special. With our colleague Enrique very much in mind, the Madrid Delegation was the place chosen to share gratitude, experience and a will to change our reality. During the celebration, two future VOLPA volunteers shared with us the following story, identifying the volunteer with the bamboo.



The tale of bamboo:



" The bamboo is usually not suitable for impatient people: one sows the seed, adds fertilizer and waters it constantly.

During the first months nothing visible happens. In fact, nothing happens with the seed during the first seven years, so someone with little experience with plants would be convinced he had bought non fertile seeds. However, during the seventh year and in a period of six weeks, the bamboo grows over 30 meters.

Did it only take six weeks to grow? No, it took seven years and six weeks.

During the first seven years of no apparent activity, the bamboo was generating a complex root system that would enable  to support the growth it would have seven years later."


Volunteer comparison:

Bamboo: “Yes, that is how you became a bamboo..

Girl: Sorry?

Bamboo: I am the plant that is behind you. You want me to tell you another story?

Girl: Oh my! now the plants are talking to me. Well ,I have nothing to lose..What's the story?

Bamboo: It´s called the volunteer´s growth.

Sometimes, the same happens to volunteers: we sow seeds of will, we fertilize with concern for justice and we constantly water with hope and service disposal.

It is usual for a volunteer to think that nothing is changing in him and on occasions he may ask himself  "how can I help to change structures? What can I do to work for excluded people?" However and even before realizing it, the volunteer has grown so much that it is time to move on to action.

How long did the volunteer take to grow? The truth is, all his or her life.

During the first period of apparent inactivity or change, this volunteer was generating a complex system of motivations, ideas, feelings, beliefs and values that allowed him to keep up a sustainable growth to enable his future fight for justice.

Girl: Well then, I´m a bamboo...

Bamboo: More or less... the main thing is for you to be aware that a volunteer´s track is not immediate, it´s not about growing and that´s it... there are moments of stopping, of frustrations, of not knowing why all this started... But the moment will come when looking at yourself you will say: I measure more than thirty meters of experience, sensitivity, joy, donation and love! That is when you will realize that you have grown as a volunteer and will continue to do so for the rest of your life.

Girl: thank you so much for sharing this with me. I hope we can meet again someday.

Bamboo: I´m sure we will! Good luck!


Carmen Moles, current Entreculturas volunteer coordinator, explained her experience as VOLPA in Venezuela.

It was a great occasion to share feelings, to remember Enrique, to feel close and part of the same group that believes in the possibility of a better world, more human and with a greater solidarity. From Entreculturas, thanks to all who made this feast possible.


Carmen Almansa, VOLPA in Paraguay

My name is  Carmen Almansa, I am 24 years old and I have been for over a year in Bañado Sur, in the outskirts of  Asunción, the  capital of Paraguay. I´m a volunteer of Fe y Alegría, with the pedagogic team of an education centre, I´m a teacher, and I also help with an environment workshop in the  “Hogar de la Alegría”,  for non formal education.

I have come to Spain to spend Christmas with my family and then I will be back to Paraguay for another year. I am back feeling older, although I am living the most tender and simple part of my life. Suddenly, when faced with complex situations, one has to wake up and deal with them and this helps you to grow...Regarding my relations with others, to live with the hardest  side of poverty, with what no one wants to see and to discover the more human side of people is an incredible experience that makes you strong...This is what I rescue from my experience, the people. Those people are the seeds of everything that is growing for the better...

The area in which I work is very vulnerable, it is called Bañado Sur  because it is bathed by the river, which is a risk factor when it rains. Almost 80% of the population lives in extreme poverty and is very near the biggest sewer of the country, so the degree of contamination is high.  It is a very hard and complex situation, however it is possible to find hope, people hope to survive, to change a little their reality and sometimes they help me when I feel low and I say to myself, it´s true, this cannot remain like this, it´s too unfair to allow it...