Jorge Molina
Volunteer Coordinator in Chile

One of the Africa Dream’ motivations, beside sending volunteers to the African continent, is to perform, what we call, a “mirror voluntary work”, meaning, to replicate activities that we develop just as much in Africa as in Chile. With this, we are trying that volunteers create an awareness, ideas and energy for their journey, so they can share their experiences and give feedback to the next generation of volunteers.

In this opportunity, as a first volunteer act of the year, our team in Santiago joined the kindergarten JUNJI Crecer con Amor, in the San Ramon region, close to La Bandera settlement. In that place we proposed to develop a series of activities which objective was to include the just as much the kindergarten as the community, so the volunteer work wouldn’t be just a material assistance. Among them, a workshop aimed at teaching how to make an herbarium, the construction of compost pen and the teaching about the benefits of herbal medicine.

In May, as a first activity, we started the construction of five vertical vegetable patches. We used pallets with the idea of promote recycling or reuse; and to obtain variety, we use — different kind of seeds – such as, lettuce, onions, cabbage etc. – and the most important ingredient: motivation.

The activity started on a Saturday morning. When we got there, we were very well received by the principal and her team, with a meeting that allowed us to chat and get to know each other before we got to work. Most of the team didn’t know the kindergarten, so we did a tour on the establishment to decide and clarify some assembly details. Between the excitement and the nerves, the only thing that we knew was we needed to build the vegetable patches and the that will be three teams, but, how will we do it?

The challenge was to make those, who had never done anything like this before, to understand how to do the job and to reach a satisfactory result. In this occasions, it is necessary of course, to be open minded, and to listen and have initiative. At the end, all of that was there. The conversation between the teams and the parents who were assisting was very natural. There were laughs and jokes through the entire day. There was so much motivation that day, that the misses of the kindergarten brought their own plants to put them in the yard.

At the end of the day, the vegetable patches were ready and with a huge satisfaction on how we finished this activity, there was only one thing to do, order and put away everything. Did we end up tired? I can assure that more than one went to have a nap, a deserved rest…

A few days after the activity, I can make several conclusions; to assess with a critical look and make observations. However, the most important thing is to learn what we did, saw and listened at the kindergarten. This vertical vegetable patches can be the beginning of a signature to Africa Dream. In time, we can keep continuing the development of the constructions, esthetic or even to update with a new design. The important thing is that day we gave the first step of creating something that can be replicated in others schools and/or kindergartens, to provide a new solution and a new knowledge to the children and who knows, maybe in the future, to move this idea to the African continent.