Volunteering was a huge experience, I felt so good to do it. It was only two hours per week, but It was like Wow! I did so much for him, but also for myself.
Luan kilka lat temu zadzwonił do Centrum Wolontariatu z pytaniem w czym może pomóc. I tak się zaczęło jego działanie w Programie Starszy Brat Starsza Siostra, gdzie poznał swojego Młodszego Brata Marcina. Może lepiej sam o tym opowie.
K. Who are you?
L. My name is Luan Oliva Santos, I’m 29 years old, I’m from Brazil, I was born in Sao Paulo in Brazil. I’m an introverted person who shows people that I’m extraverted to be more safe. I’m a bit talkative. I like to stay at home, watch movies, and be on my one. Like doing things by myself. What else? I was studying tourism in Brazil, I have a bachelor in tourism. I just work in hotels and restaurants in Brazil. I was working on cruise ships, so I had the opportunity to save some money. Then I was able to buy English course in Dublin, Ireland, where I met my ex and that’s why I came to Poland. Because he is Polish. And actually that was kind of wow! Why Poland? But I’m really glad that I came here because I changed so much.
K. I was also surprised when you came to the Volunteer Center.
L. To be honest I never thought about coming to Poland. When we think about Europe we always think, let’s try to go to more latin countries like Spain, Portugal, France. But anyway, I came and I’m really glad and I think I really need this experience. But also now that I’m single, I think I also need this experience to be single, to be by my one I have grown this last year. What else? I’m the only child of my mother, right now she is in Brazil, but she lives with my aunts. And their boyfriends. She is very happy that I’m in Europe, or I’m going to try to achieve my goals. I’m now into astrology, my health and also therapy which is helpful. I really like to travel but I don’t have money. I like animals, I have two dogs, and they are my friends, my support here in Poland. I don’t like to cook, but I like to eat. I like Szczecin’s weather in spring-summer, but I also like snow.
K. How the volunteering started?
L. At the beginning it was kind of complicated in Poland. I had contact with my boyfriend and his family, which is polish, but there wasn’t any contact at work. Everybody was just working, and going home. I was alone in that way so I was trying to find some resources or solutions to fill more in the society, in the city. I was trying to unblock myself from Poland and polish people in general, because I wasn’t accepted. But at some point I think this was just in my mind. So by volunteering it was helping someone, but I was also helping myself. That’s why this idea came, and I started to search some places, and I found POLITES, and then I went there and we talked, and there was this opportunity with the ‘’Big brother, Big sister’’. That one was the one that I wanted to try.
K. What were you doing in this program ‘’Big Brother, Big Sister’’?
L. For me the idea of this project is for someone that has to be there. He/she has to be present for someone to do any kind of activity. Also you have to adapt the games and activities for the needs of the children. In my case, I was in charge of Marcin who has autism. I think it was good to see someone from abroad, someone that couldn’t speak his language, but we could understand each other. I also learned from him. I learned that I should be more attentive or communicative. This volunteering experience was also good for his mother, because she could just do something else while I was with him. It was good to have someone there, to play with him. To be there basically.
It was a huge experience, I felt so good to do it. It was only two hours per week, but it was like wow, I did so much for him, but also for myself. In Brazil I never had this desire to do volunteering, but maybe in Brazil I wouldn’t feel like I’m lost, like I needed to connect with people. That’s why I was looking for this experience.
K. For how long were you in this program?
L. I was in this program for two years. Sometimes I still have contact with Marcin. With his mum we were still used to going to the same toastmaster, but I’m not going there anymore because of covid, that’s why now we don’t have that much contact. From time to time I talk with his mother and I always ask how Marcin is, she sends me some pictures. He is growing a lot.
K. For you, which is the success of this program? Which were the best and satisfying moments? (Special moments)
L. It was a challenge. With Marcin, at the beginning I really needed the help of his mother, almost all the time, because I didn’t speak any polish, and also he wanted his mother to be there. So i was feeling like i wasn’t helping a lot, but after some time it was changing, and his mother was still there from time to time, but he was able to communicate with me, i learned how to play with him. I understood what he wanted,so finally it was a success.
K. Did your friends know about volunteering? Did you tell them?
L. At the beginning, I didn’t tell them. But right now, for example we did those pictures, and I was with friends at the beach at Szczecin’s beach, and I had to explain that to that, and what I was doing, and they said ‘’oh, wow, that’s so nice’’. If there is an opportunity to say it, I just say it.
K. What do you think, people know about volunteering?
L. Well, taking into consideration myself, I think the knowledge is basic. Now I know a bit more, because I did it. But people, in general, know the basics, just know that it exists, but they don’t know anything more. It’s like a different planet. For example, in Brasil there are some organizations that give prizes for those who want to do volunteering. It’s more like a recognition. These kinds of companies are doing this because it is a kind of promotion, and also to involve workers into volunteering. I think that there are a lot of different things that people could do, but i think they don’t have time. I used to have a preconception with those who do volunteering, that they are too friendly and so happy, and I was not like that. I am afraid to go to places with many people, so if there is any event with volunteers, I can go if I have a friend to go with. Today we have the internet so I think it’s easier to spread that information, we can show for example what we do at work. Would also be great to find some influencers in Social Media, to promote the organizations and what they do.
K. Do you have some words for people that are wondering if they should volunteer?
L. I would say: just do it! Do you have some time? Just go and do it. You are not wasting yur time, and if you don’t like it, it’s okay, at least, you tried.
K. What did this experience give you?
L. I remember one thing. Before I was volunteering with Marcin, I was checking all the time. I was used to it, even though I was with friends. After this experience I can say that I have my phone somewhere in my jacket and I completely forget that I have it. Also looking into the eyes of people, cause i always prefer not to do it, and working with Marcin was a must, then i started to do it with people. It’s something that I learned from him, to be present in the moment.
K. What motivates you to work as a volunteer?
L. For me it was that hard time in Poland of isolation. I wanted to get out of this routine of work and home, work and home. With volunteering I could do something good, do different things. In general, what motivates me is the changes in other lifes, and also in mine. Volunteering is such a huge thing, but at the same time is not known by the people.