Alegria no Rio. – Happiness in Rio de Janeiro

Alegria no Rio. – Happiness in Rio de Janeiro

Alegria no Rio. – Happiness in Rio de Janeiro

In December 2014 I passed the final exams. After that a new period of my life started and I knew I wanted to travel before starting to work. I wanted to learn about other cultures and get to know people. Shortly after I came across AIESEC. It was a most unexpected but very welcome opportunity.

For working as a volunteer, I went 2 months from July through to September to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, to give workshops about Multiculturalism, Sustainability, Human Rights, Social Responsibility en Entrepreneurship. These are rather heavy but very actual subjects and it seemed to me a real challenge.

The very first day I got confronted with the poverty of the NGO (Non-Governmental-Organization) named Projeto dom de Amar. This is a childrens’ daycare for early mornings before school starts and for the midday after school to play or do their homework, eat, sleep and wait until their parents come from work to pick them up. The first thing I noticed was that the children lay on the floor to sleep on a thin piece of cloth without cushions or sheets. At once I thought of fundraising to organize buying cushions, sleeping mats and some toys for the children.

I had talked about this idea with some friends. At once they were enthusiastic and prepared to make this happen for the children. The idea was to organize a small but efficient fundraising. I had asked the manager what they really needed in the NGO. I received a list for food, cleaning products, essential baby amenities. Surprised as I was, because I had expected that they would mention expensive articles. The intention was to buy all the articles on the list and some that I had thought of, too.

I had decided to use my last 2 weeks to collect the money needed, buy and distribute the articles. Via Facebook I had asked more friends and family and acquaintances to help me. Within a week I already had collected €750. That was more than R$ 2500 in Brazil. Plenty to buy all they needed. Now it was time to get help. I had asked the local AIESEC-team for help. Meanwhile I only had one week left. We went to the bazar and bought bags full of toys, sleeping mats, cushions and much more. The following days I needed to buy the other articles on the list.

Now, that all the things had been bought, it was D-Day… In the afternoon all children were assembled to give them all these things. They had already seen the bags full of cushions and they were extremely curious to know what was about to happen. Firstly I explained briefly what I had done and how it was made possible with the help of others and then all was divided among the children. There were colourbooks, reading books, puzzles, sleeping mats, cushions, baby nutrition and much more. The children were very happy with their presents. There was plenty and more of what the management had asked for. It gave a warmhearted feeling and at the same time it was amazing to see how happy the children were with these necessities that are normally standard to have in The Netherlands.

Pictures had been taken to show the donators. On the photographs the children had a sign with “Obrigado Tio” or “Obrigado Tia” which means, “thank you Uncle/Auntie. This is a custom at the NGO to call all the employees’ uncle or auntie as a form of courtesy. For the people who donated more than €50 the name of the donator was added to the sign to make it more personal and special.

This was an unforgettable experience which had a huge impact on the children and also on me. A successful and great AIESEC adventure!

Edonne Girigori – Tilburg

Charles Giesberger