Blog

Magdalena Aracena, volunteer in Eswatini

Magda tell us about you and how would you describe yourself
My name is Magdalena Aracena, I was born in La Serena city and because of
adoption reasons, I live in Santiago. I have been an English teacher for more
than ten years, I have worked with children, teenagers, and adults in different
educational areas. My interest to be part of a project in Africa appeared a few
years ago, but the circumstances of life are various until I finally met this
Chilean Foundation and nowadays I’m part of the volunteers. Personally what
characterizes more is my passion for living, the knowledge of several cultures
and a great love for nature.

What is your interest to carry out a voluntary work and why did you
choose Africa?
I think that my main interest is the necessity to be a contribution to the society.
And I chose to participate in this volunteer work, because I feel that my interest
in education and human relationship can be, somehow, a support to our
brothers in Africa.

What motivated you about Africa Dream Foundation?
Besides being a Chilean foundation, I think that we share the same ideals and
the mission that shows, it makes me feel part of a global community that
cooperates and benefits many people as much in Chile as in Africa.

What do you expect to accomplish/provide?
To contribute to society in a professional and personal manner, in the best way
possible and afterward to transmit this valuable experience in my country.

What message would you give to those who wants to go but they don’t
dare?
That they should take this risk in participating in this beautiful labor, that without
a doubt is going to be rewarding learning for present and future life.
What do you want to say to the partners from Africa Dream?
That they are the fundamental base so that Africa Dream can keep making this
beautiful labor and can live on, as much here in Chile with different activities for
the community as for our brothers in Africa.

Francisca Lechuga, volunteer in Eswatini

Fran, tell us about you and how would you describe yourself
My name is Francisca Lechuga, I’m 24 years old and I am a Preschool teacher.
I think that I characterize myself for being a proactive person, who fights for
their beliefs and dreams. I love animals, nature and everything that involves
outdoor activities.

What is your interest to carry out a voluntary work?
To provide, from my professional and cultural resources to people who are
affected by high levels of inequality. My idea is to give the best of me, based on
my interactions and pedagogy in a positive environment to create an
interpersonal relationship of quality. It is proven, that the impact of learning
feelings and how you face life, in my point of view, love and respect towards
others it is something that must be taught (and delivered) since early in life.
Furthermore, I would love to know the looks and how other cultures understand
the world, creating a mutual learning in this exchange.

Why did you choose a volunteer work in Africa?
I have always heard that the living conditions in the African continent are not the
most favorable. Women and children are the ones who are more forgotten and
disadvantaged in terms of protecting their human rights. It comes to my
attention that inequality and injustice are marked by the place where we were
born. For this reason, I have the desire to provide in this situation from my
possibilities and vocation.

What motivated you about Africa Dream Foundation?
That is a straightforward Foundation and committed with its labor and
volunteers. They care to create a positive and friendly environment between
people, besides every detail of the process.

What message would you give to those who wants to go but they don’t
dare?
They should do it, to live this experience and loosen up, because that is what
life means, to give a step to new opportunities and experiences.
What do you want to say to the partners from Africa Dream?
That without them this wouldn’t be possible, that thanks to their contributions, us
volunteers we can carry out meaningful experiences.

“To Give”

Ignacio Vilches, Africa Dream Director

Being a volunteer is to remind that we are not alone as isolated individuals in
the world, but we are inserted in an environment, in a context, in where we can
provide our knowledge and experiences to others, but even more, is the selfless
delivery of your time to the benefit of others.
To give means to deliver without expecting something in return as a reward, but
just for the fact of the personal satisfaction of contributing to building a better
world. The birth of the volunteer work is an answer, that may be spontaneous or
not, to find a solution to a problem or necessity that affects others in our
community. There are many examples in today’s society of people who give
one part of them to others, some of them are so emblematic as a fireman, with
a volunteer work already institutionalized for over 150 years in the Chilean
history. As many others more contemporary such as Hogar de Cristo,
Coaniquem, Teletón, among other examples which had contributed to the
formation of our society.
For people who dedicated part of their time and effort to work for others, this
type of experience enriches them in every meaning. To be a volunteer has
many positive aspects, such as, to develop a greater social sensitivity, to
empathize with different realities from your own, to learn in a better way what
you have, and to create strong bonds with people; in other words, it gives a real
meaning to be part of a community.
Today’s circumstances that we are living as a country, now more than ever, as
a society we have to improve and develop the value of giving, through volunteer
work. All of us, without exclusion we can collaborate with time and knowledge,
engaging us to work together for a better society.

Assuming Christmas

Rodrigo Mercado
Executive Director

Our national context this year allows us to look at the Christmas holidays and New
Years with a new view. However, we are not only looking at them, reality invites us to
embrace it and live it from a new perspective. Although its message of peace and love
is still valid, this year this message presents itself highlighting shades of solidarity,
empathy and support.
Therefore, this Christmas beckons us to face what is happening, with necessities so
real that have been part of countless demands. On the other hand, a Christmas in
which business premises had not being able to dress their showcases to advertise their
products, just as mass media has been lacking propaganda. We could catalogue this as
a cautious and expectant holiday.
I remember my time in rural Africa for almost six years, where the celebration of
Christmas was related to music coming from the drums, the meals were shared and
simply understanding it as gratitude for life. I never saw a present when I was there,
one that would pass from hand to hand, or the invasion of mass media with their
“Christmas outbreak”.
The current reality in which we live today, demands of us to see Christmas in two
different ways. On the one hand, so we learn to understand the demands that come
from millions of people to have a better quality of life. On the other hand, it can be an
opportunity to have a more human oriented celebration, more like the African style,
where music, the closeness when gathering with others, sharing a meal and be
thankful for life can contribute so that this time Christmas can be more meaningful and
a very happy one!

Francisco Arrau

My name is Francisco Arrau, I am 29 years old and I have been married to Fran a little less than a month. I am a mechanical engineer and as such, I like engines, mechanisms, metallic structures and everything related to metal calls my attention, I am interested to know how things work. While I was in college I participated in the solar car project for four years and I believe that it describes my interests pretty well. 

I have been working as a development engineer for three years; I’ve been in two different companies, coming up with solutions that, somehow, make life easier for people. It motivates me to be able to design products that are useful, functional and that are long lasting, products that can make people happy and that are affordable.  

Fran has always told me, ever since we met five years ago, that she wanted to go to Africa, to be a volunteer, that it was her dream. We started dating and we agreed that when we were married were going to do a volunteering trip. And here we are! Married and in Africa. 

This is a continent that still has deep rooted needs; here there is hunger, malnutrition, people and kids die because of the lack of basic treatment, social and political problems, amongst others. I fell that we have a responsibility to take on these problems, that’s why we try to learn as much as possible, to see how we can help in a more efficient manner.  

Here, along with the community that welcomes us, we have a very concrete task, with the farm and the mission with the northern Samburu. It is very rewarding to arrive and be able to continue to work in a labor that one knows will continue through time, one with real effect. There is also the feeling that everything you do is nothing compared to the sea of needs that this continent has, that is why I want to learn, so that I can contribute in the best way possible, if not now then I will in the future.  

To every partner in Africa Dream, let me tell you that your contribution helps to accomplish a lot of tasks that are very important in Africa, so they can develop them and also maintain the ones that already running. Seeing the farm and how this makes an impact and helps improve the lives of the Samburu, one can realize how important the help is, literally, how vital it becomes.

 

Francisca Ossandon

Hi, I am Francisca Ossandón, I am 26 years old and I just got married with José on October 26; I am a Commercial Engineer and I am the oldest of 7 siblings.  

Before I arrived in Africa, I worked for Banigualdad Foundation that gives credit and training to micro entrepreneurs, the foundation gives them the chance to develop and make their business grow. Ever since I was a little girl I participated in the Schoenstatt movement, this left a constant and deep impression in my life, along with the example my parents set. I am truly happy to participate in volunteering jobs and missions, sharing with others in that very special environment.  

Doing volunteering work will allow me to share with other people and dedícate 100% of my time to do it. In Santiago, between work, things left undone and so many things we all have, it is harder to find time to dedicate it exclusively to share it with people. 

It is rewarding for them and for me to be able to share with different people, from other realities and cultures. Give myself to others in what they need, deliver what I can, be available is what volunteering allows me to experience. 

Choosing Africa to do this is due to the experience I heard from a friend that had been in Ethiopia and how the poverty of the place left a mark in her, how necessary help was and how, no matter the difficulties, people were happy. 

I am well aware that help is needed everywhere, in Chile too, and I want to continue making a contribution in whatever manner I can when I am back. Being so far away gives you the possibility to disconnect from everything and being more available for people. 

Africa Dream Foundation was essential for me, especially for its commitment to send volunteers where it is needed the most. They will not send a volunteer to a place just because he or she wants to help, they will do it only if it is necessary. The foundation makes sure that the volunteers can be a concrete help wherever they go and that is remarkable.  

I know that we are not going to change the world, but if a person can be a little happier every day with our help, by sharing, by helping, a smile or any other detail I will feel that all of it was worth it.  

Finally I want to say, thank you so much for supporting us! We all want to make the most of this experience, help in every way we can and come back to Chile to apply everything we have learned. I think that this experience, what we give and what we receive makes us grow as an individual and also, helps us build a better world.

 

Coaching at Kindergarten Crecer con Amor

Diego Rivera
Africa Dream Volunteer

At the end of September, the Africa Dream Foundation was present at
Kindergarten Crecer con Amor, located in San Ramon, Santiago. On this
occasion, unlike other activities carried out during this year, a Coaching was
organized with child specialists and technicians, where they were the main
participants in the activity.
This coaching was based on creating an instance for the Kindergarten’s staff so
that they could meet as on a personal level as much on a group level, also to
provide a space for the educators and technicians to bring up certain present
issues in the Institution. To create a path towards the work of these situations
with the final objective of a better work environment at the Kindergarten.
The activity summoned 19 people, as a whole Kindergarten’s members, which started
as a conceptual background indicating why this Coaching is being performed.
Afterward, 4 groups were formed to analyze 2 labor conflicts cases. Then, participants
expressed in a poster board “how they see their workplace”. Finally, a reflexive video
was shown and the corresponding conclusions of the Coaching from the educators and
technician.
As a Foundation, we feel that the last purpose of the activity was to start a path towards
a collaborative and quality work environment. We believe that this was possible
because the participants showed a great interest through the Coaching and expressed
their gratitude towards the Africa Dream Foundation.

Kenia: creativity for the service of women

Mariluna Guzmán
Africa Dream Volunteer

For three consecutive weeks we received in the farm, located 20 km southeast
from Nairobi, groups from Lodungokwe, Barsaloi and Tuum, towns in the north
of Kenia located in the semi-desert in the Samburu county.
It belongs to the Samburu tribe, first cousin of the world known Masai. However
they have had less contact with tourists, therefore they maintain their deep-
rooted traditions; their most important characteristic is that they are herders,
mainly raising goats, cows and camels. Given that their diet is based on milk,
meat and blood, it is poor and deficient in vitamins and minerals.
From many years ago the missionaries from Yarumal, our local partner in
Kenia, had a dream of teaching agriculture to this people as a way to help them
improve their diet and health; today, after many battles, we have started it
thanks to the contribution of different organizations in various countries.
Due to the fact that the Samburu live in the semi-desert, their water source is
their main limitation because all the water that they use has to be bought in
barrels and, in some cases they have to walk long distances with them on their
heads. This is the reason why the mission has been working to be able to have
a well, with it the people will be able to install irrigation systems to supply water
to the communal garden that will be on the mission’s land, the desired Chamba,
as it is called in the local language.
The groups are: 86% to women whose ages go from 20 to 67 years old, the
highest percentage are between 22 and 31 years old, working woman with an
average of 4.6 kids per woman. In their culture, women and girls are the one
who fulfill house tasks, like collecting wood, water, milk the cattle, shepherd and
even build houses or manyattas. This is why the program focuses on them, but
it is also open to receiving men who are interested in working the land.
In total each group will come to the farm 5 times, for a period of a year and a
half. This includes housing and meals for five days each time, during that week
we will start the training with theoretical classes, workshops and recreational
activities.
During this first week of training the challenge will be great. We needed to be as
recreational as possible to teach women and men, where 39% of them had
never attended school and only 48% of them understand English; this is why we
always used an English-Kisamburu translator.

The first topic was about organic agriculture and biodiversity, this is because we
want to teach them to be sustainable and respectful with the environment; we
also did a sensory activity in which we gave them different types of vegetables
and fruit to taste, for example: beets, which they had never had before and it
had a lot of acceptance, everyone liked it and they started eating it at lunch and
dinner; this was a very important milestone because salads or raw vegetables is
very strange to them, only 19% eats them.
During this week they also learned the concept of crop rotation and about
favorable relations that can exists amongst them to avoid any kind of plagues
and to deliver nutrients, we also worked with organic techniques to prevent
plague infestations by creating their own bio-repellent with local and low cost
materials.
On the next session they learned how to elaborate liquid fertilizer from the
manure from the animals that they have, rich in nutrients, especially in nitrogen.
It is easy to prepare and to use due to the fact that the soil in all three locations
is very poor.
Another technique, also related to the improvement of soil fertility is compost,
they also has the opportunity to make it.
During the week they also learned about techniques for soil preparation and
planting, with which we try to decrease water evaporation by building a sunken
bed, like this the surface exposed to sun and in contact with the wind is
decreased.
These were some of the techniques reviewed during the week. And since not
everything could be about study and working with the land, we also created
recreational activities with the groups, with this we wanted them to be able to
work certain capacities but in a fun manner. The first activity was related to the
taught crops and it was made through a classic memorizing game, the one we
all played as kids once, but that they did not know. It was a very fun moment
where everyone laughed and enjoyed a lot.
Next afternoon we made an creativity in which they had to develop their
creativity, playing with watercolor; the idea was that they discovered new colors
from red, blue and yellow, this was accomplished successfully, each person
created between 3 or 4 beautiful pieces that we then exhibited on the wall of the
dining area in the farm, we also took those pieces to make envelopes in which
they took the seeds they collected.
We also played bingo that worked to develop their concentration capacity and to
practice numbers. The last night we wanted to share with them with a bonfire
where we sang, danced and it also worked as a place where they expressed

their regards for everything we taught. It was a very touching moment and as a
conclusion gift for the first week they all received a lemon tree.
And that is how the first and much awaited three weeks of training ended, our
hearts are full because we have heard how grateful everyone is for these new
knowledge that we have shared with them, they know that they are tools that
will help them produce their own food, which they did not have access to, this is
because vegetables do not reach certain towns or because if they do, they are
too expensive and also, they are not in good conditions.
There is still four weeks of training for each town and we hope to be able to
have more volunteers from Chile that are willing to come and give a little bit of
their time to help complete the training circle. The experience of knowing the
Samburu culture is priceless and you will be welcome with open arms by the
missionaries of Yarumal.

Put yourself in someone else’s place

Karla Jiménez
Africa Dream Director

I would like to start this reflection by quoting Nelson Mandela, a phrase that we
have nowadays in our social media: “Without language, one cannot talk to
people and understand them; one cannot share their hopes and aspirations”.
We have been going through a tough situation in our country, and I would like to
focus on this matter in the following text.
In life, not everything is black or white, and I believe that we always should put
ourselves in someone else’s place, besides, our expectations are not always
what we hope. And that is why I would like to dedicate this message to every
volunteer who wants to go and work for Africa because at the moment that I
decided to take off, I had many thoughts in my mind and realities that I had
imagined. But in the end, I decided that I did wanted to contribute and I was
willing to adapt to every situation, and it was like that.
I travel by myself to a country that I didn’t know with what I will run into, nor how
the people, children, and situations that a was going to live, would be like. And
thanks to that, by hard, it was the best experience in my life. I think that having
an open mind to accept and see the positive side of every situation, is my main
advice to every volunteer who is going to Africa. Since there are plenty of
realities that are better that you expect, but there are others that don’t.
However, to take that positivism and see the kindness of each person who
crosses my path, it is impossible not to be thankful for every lesson.

For all that, I truly hope that every volunteer, as every Chilean that today is going through a
tough situation in our country, can respect, adapt, empathize and put themselves in someone
else’s place before taking a position, giving an opinion, or feel something. I believe that most of
the people who are in the streets, just like every volunteer who wants to go and is in Africa, we
dream of a fairer world for us and the next generations.

Pablo Mellado: educate, prevent, help

The workshop for prenatal education oriented to migrant women who reside in Concepción was made, the main objective was to inform about the health system that operates in our country and how important health check-ups are for pregnant women.   

The workshop took place in the Urban Station premises, Africa Dream’s strategic ally in Concepción, who have contributed with the necessary space for the making of these meetings and workshops. 

 The lecture was given by Yahaira Salgado, resident in Obstetrics in Universidad San Sebastián, who perform as a volunteer in our team since last year. 

She says the following: “What motivates me to make this prenatal workshop is to teach migrant women who live in Chile, all the benefits that the government ensures, in addition to the benefits for that developing girl or boy. It is very important to include this community to this type of citizens (prenatal) because in their home countries they do not have this kind of check-ups or benefits nor do they have midwives, therefore they do not go to cesfam to get a check-up. This has turn into a challenge for the field in our territory. When the first workshop was made, I was very comfortable; I tried to use a simple language to explain the proceedings that were to be done when they went to CESFAM to get a check-up on their pregnancy. I did it with a lot of love and dedication and I hope I was able to reach out to them and that the second they know they are expecting they will know what to do”.    

 

Some of the attendants said the following:

 

Madeleine Redondo, along with her partner, Isaac Muñoz, both from Venezuela said: “We think is a very good workshop, the way it was made, how instructive it was, he doubts and myths that were solved, things that we did not know about and what we didn’t know about regarding the support we could find in different CESFAM centers and check-ups that they provide”. 

Hinetide Louissant, from Haiti, who is actually 4 months pregnant: “I am very thankful for the workshop, it was very good and it was a chance to resolve any doubts about my pregnancy, and also the way the check-ups are made. I will look forwards to know when other workshops will take place”. 

Pablo Mellado, nurse, Regional Director for Africa Dream says: “As a team we are very happy with the result of this activity, the acceptance and hoe it reached people were very good. We met the objective fully in this first session and finally, there are two other workshops awaiting, these will be about education pre and post natal education; they will take place during the first weeks of October and we will give information about it through our social networks. We invite all migrant women who live in Concepción, that are currently pregnant

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+56 2 29 13 9616

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info@africadream.cl

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Av. Apoquindo 3039 Piso 9 – Santiago
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