SOLIDARITY has been a concept used quite often during this last period. It can be felt, read and heard everywhere on television, radio, newspaper, magazines and aloud. And it is in these critical and hard moments, when those social feelings surface, such as taking care and protecting each other, helping us to move on as a group –as one- in turn, I believe appears from a deeply natural instinct: survival.
But how is SOLIDARITY, day-to-day, when we are not in a moment of crisis? For me, this concept is always lived, even when we do not notice explicitly. I joined the Africa Dream tribe in 2018 as a General Secretary, and from the moment I left home to get to the office, the gestures of solidarity were always present. I saw acts so simple as the neighbor swiping the street that everyone uses, people holding the door so others could pass, people helping an elder person to get down from the public transportation, people holding the elevator so other people can use it… even when they are simple and daily acts, it does not mean they are less valuable and beautiful, because it makes you notice that SOLIDARITY is already something natural to us.
During this period, being in our Foundation has allowed me to know this concept in a much closer and special way. Through our volunteers and work team, and through the beautiful and sometimes hard stories that we get to know from our African brothers. I have learned that solidarity is never an option for many in Africa, but it is what forms the backbone of their lives and communities. Here in Chile, thousands of kilometers from the African continent, we can impregnate from that same spirit: to turn SOLIDARITY into an essential pillar of our lives, now more than ever.
SOLIDARITY is and it will continue to be something important to overcome any crisis.
LlongSu Yu Jiménez
Since the pandemic hit us, our presence in Africa has been summed up through dreams. We took over the dream to sponsor 12 girls and boys with their education, and with an amazing and selfless response they were sponsored concern and care. We believe in short-term dreams that remains in time and don´t fade, which gives meaning to our presence in Africa in among the local needs.
In a future not too far away, we dream with our 2021 volunteers, to accompany the astonishment, to listen and read tales, the joy and feelings that are told from there. However, the dream is built from the commitment that each of them has from the local, that is why we dream with volunteers who are committed from Chile.
The dreams are part of our foundation, and there are dreams that have taken years, like the contribution certificates so companies with social meaning can also accompany us to keep growing. A dream that consolidates our view, that without Chile there is no Africa.
This 2021, we believe in shared dreams, since is the only way in which they will become true along our partners, volunteers and the great African people. “What is essential is invisible to the eye”, like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote in his book “The Little Prince”, is a reminder to never stop dreaming. It is what gives us the chance to possibilities, not just to find immediate solutions, but more important, to understand the problem, to solve it and learn.
Rodrigo Mercado C.
On August 22th of 2020, I decided to join Africa Dream so one day I could go to Africa as a volunteer. I was not sure if to join now or to wait (for the pandemic to pass , but I sent an e-mail just in case.
They answered me extremely fast and invited me to a meeting where I met Rodrigo Mercado (Executive Director) and his partner Diego Rivera. And just like that, I decided to join the Foundation.
The crew that I found was amazing, full of energy. Many volunteers never had seen each other in person, but in the online meetings, they talked as if they were best friends.
The culture of the Foundation is to help each other, carry out projects, make short classes about interest topics, celebrate birthdays and obviously to make “online parties”, which is what has kept a good performance during these complicated times.
The online voluntary work is a big challenge, it requires commitment and working with a team from all ages and from different parts of Chile, with the purpose to take the dreams of the Foundation forward. It has been a great experience, with an environment with such motivation and positivity that is a real pleasure to be here.
The dream to go to Africa is very present in the team, and we are overly excited to go when the pandemic finishes. Meanwhile, we invite everyone to be part of this great team and to not use Covid as an excuse to postpone our goals.
The perception of time is faster, every day we are more involved in the system, where most of the day and week is worked. The demand overcomes the limits, people are less tolerant and less untrusting.
After a decade of working as a nurse, working in the hospital area, the last 6 years in the critical patient unit has been a daily high demand, which has allowed me to develop professionally, taking care and helping those who are in need. Facing these two motives, it comes a moment to stop and decide to change the direction of my life, to keep helping but now from a different lane. I feel that is the moment to deliver or give back everything that life has given me, to people who need more from us, which makes me decide to go to Africa.
Besides, I have the fortune to share this dream with my boyfriend Javier, a volunteer of Africa Dream, who also enjoys, in a selfless way, to help those in need. I hope to give the best of me, the desire to serve, teach and learn from other African communities, it strongly moves me, to establish new bonds from firsthand to know these ethnics groups.
15 years ago, when Africa Dream was created, we lived in a frenetic Chile, pursuing progress and development. Those were years when society seemed less united and less aware of the connection that exists between humas beings. Joined by the idea of purpose and convinced that solidarity is an intention with no boundaries, we created this dream-adventure of a foundation that could send volunteers to Africa.
Its purpose never was to deliver assistance, that is not the way I see relationships, but the construction of bridges, the mutual understanding where the volunteers will deliver a “traditional” knowledge of education, health and agriculture, to receive and learn the teaching of life. That is what the real Africa gives, an Africa that suffers and lives, where villages still receive the immigrant with songs, and the sound of the drums filters in gets in without invitation to accompany the dream.
Africa Dream started in a localized way, in Sichili, Zambia. But it expanded its progression to other localities and countries. Nowadays, it seeks to create sustainable solutions in the long term, and more than that, to deliver a transformative experience to its volunteers. With the purpose that any action which they undertake in their return to Chile, somehow, is tinge with the learning that they will never forget because it is installed forever in their minds.
In a difficult year for everyone, as the one that is about to finish, I feel that there are many lessons that we must learn as human beings. First, we are all needed. A virus that started so far away and reached us in matters of weeks, to remind us that everyone depends on others; what you do affects me, and what I do, affects others. That inspired this Foundation, and we must not forget we are all needed, we are all united and connected.
Marcelo Mosso G.
Co-Founder Africa Dream
After 12 years spent in Chile, filled with cultural and job experiences, it is time to take one step further in the path of life and take on an adventure to Africa. I arrived in Chile in 2008 due to a job in a Spanish company that supplies equipment to the mining industry. After a long road through several companies in different mining processes and several mines in the north of Chile, the moment to take on another path towards new and rewarding challenges and experiences got here.
Africa has always caught my attention because of its ancient culture and rituals that are still around in the XXI century, unconnected to the maelstrom of globalization. Also due to the great necessity of basic resources that rural zones have, like food and drinking water. The ultimate boost that I needed to make the choice to spend a period of my life in Africa came from Andrea, nurse by profession and my girlfriend. Her unwavering vocation to help others drives us to make the decision to go across the Atlantic to help those who need it most.
We are waiting to be able to take on the Africa dream soon, when the global health situation allows us to travel safely so we can fulfill one of the most unforgettable dreams and experiences of life.
The time to make important decisions for our country is coming. Every person that is part of this great community will decide the path we want to take to move forward. There is no space for individuality, everyone is needed. Individuality or the lack of being a community caused us to disconnect from each other, they made us avoid solving the problems that became present. We prioritize our personal interest and we postpone solutions in search of the common good.
This makes me contemplate my experience as a volunteer in the province of Limpopo, in South Africa. I noticed how important the Tsonga tribe is, how important it is to belong to a community. They made me feel like I was part of their tribe, of their people; they made me understand that both man and women cannot live isolated. Isolation means to take a step back, but now that we are together, it means we are stronger and we are growing. In consequence, the more cohesive our country is, the better outreach we will have for development.
To be able to achieve this, we have to make a commitment first, for the common goal. We need to be resilient and of course, to be respectful to others. Without this, we cannot move forward together.
This grand community made of diverse citizens who are equal in rights, has the main duty to be a part of the democratic process; an unprecedented fact in our independent history: to decide if we want to maintain or to rewrite a new constitution.
There are processes that the Constitution will not stop, like the globalization of society in all its forms or the technological revolution. Both of them break barriers that seemed too difficult to break and they have contributed to democratizing the access to knowledge. On the other hand, it exposes and challenges us in other problems that we weren’t used to, like immigration and the emergence of pandemics.
Whichever the result is next October, we have to uphold it, we must sit to listen and talk about it. It will not be an easy process, but we have to contribute wisely and with patience. We cannot remain disconnected; we must collaborate in the search of a prized unity that will make us all feel part of this great tribe.
Without a doubt, the pandemic has forced us to reinvent ourselves as a foundation, furthermore, to realize that no matter the circumstances we keep with all the desire, commitment, and energy to keep helping as much in Chile as in Africa. And with more conviction than ever, since sadly all this context has brought as consequence a growth in extreme poverty.
Every life through and experience invites us to reflect. Especially in this pandemic, which has caused a transformation in our interpersonal relationships, daily life, and social behaviors, consequently, invites us to question ourselves by the meaning that we want to give to everything that is happening with Covid-19 and think about. Thus, I believe that we as a foundation, we couldn’t miss this opportunity, and to see it as a moment to test self-learning, creativity, critical thinking, and collaborative work between everyone who is part of Africa Dream; volunteers, directors, partners, and contributors.
In the last six months, we have had the opportunity to assemble teams with different professionals, reaching to 6 projects for the more vulnerable areas of our country, and three more in process, which will be presented to the Social Development Ministry (Ministerio de Desarrollo Social).
If we focus in Africa, today we are working to present 2 projects to competitive funds as much for Kenia as Eswatini, centering on water wells, agriculture, and rehab of children with special needs. Besides, we have 12 eager volunteers waiting to depart to Kenia, Ethiopia, and Eswatini, as soon as there are conditions to travel. As Frank M. Snowden, an American history teacher and writer said a few months ago: “Crisis can persuade people that a different world can be created and imagined, urgently. And our bonds can be reimagined somehow that can be healthier, more equal and, also can save our planet”.
“Why Africa?” Probably, this is the most frequent question that people ask you. And I answer with another question, Why not? Have you ever wondered, why is Africa one of the poorest continents, when it has the most organic, tourist, and cultural wealth? Does it seem to you that they have plenty of tools and hands to use them?
Here are my hands, feet, profession and enthusiasm.
Two months ago, I turned 3 years being a Veterinary surgeon, but it has been more than 10 years dreaming with this continent.
At the age of 18, I entered college, and I remember filling the room of the hostel with posters saying, “You must study to go to Africa”. That written hand poster, it gave me the strength to finish my career, and every time that I stood up all night, I told myself that someday, that day will come… That moment, where through my profession I could help so many people, their animals, their source of employment and to make someone smile … ten years later, a post on Instagram would make my world turn 180°. On one side of the phone was Rodrigo talking about Kenya and an “eco-farm”, on the other side, I was imagining every word and realizing that all the begging that I asked to the planets, they had finally aligned and the dream already had a real shape.
It is only 3 years, I can’t offer the same as someone with 20 years of experience, but I can offer what I have been growing for 28 years, thanks to my parents: Empathy.
Not everything is a virtue. I have my flaws and now and then I’m a bit insecure of my decisions, but never in my life I have felt so much persuasion of something, something that can turn on your soul and can’t be turn off with anything: Africa.