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Volunteering in pandemic times

Barbara volunteered in CSP Vera Cruz in Aveiro from September 2020 to September 2021. Here is her story!

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes and 14 seconds

Today it is time to sit down and compile all the moments lived in this project, the good ones and the not so good ones, because of the situation in which we have been involved by the COVID-19, it has been necessary, among other things, to reinvent ourselves.

On the 2nd of September 2020 I arrived in Aveiro with two huge suitcases full of uncertainty, illusion, excitement and a lot of fear. I imagine that like any other person who decides to change their life.
Natasa was the coordinator of my project, the first person I met there. (I still remember her astonished face when she saw me arrive with so much stuff).  Later, Sofia arrived, a very strange Greek woman with whom I would share house, work and life during the time the project would last.

“Solidarity Superheros” lasted 12 months, a project of the European Solidarity Corps where I have learned countless things, one of the most important has been learning to speak Portuguese, probably not perfectly, but enough to be able to communicate with each and every one of the people who make up the CSP Vera Cruz.

CSPVC has been the organisation where I have worked this year, but it has also been my second home and part of my family all this time and not only because of the number of hours I spent there but also because from the first minute I felt welcomed, supported and understood, something I did not expect in such a big organisation.

The CSPVC offers numerous services, from education for the youngest children to support in different areas to the families who need it most (they have a website where you can check everything they do in more detail), I collaborated mainly in the STAF department. Together with Sofia, we organised, managed and distributed the donations that we received daily of clothes, food, furniture, household goods, etc., we gave a sense to that space and we have put our soul to give shape to an essential service for the Aveirense community.

Today I can say that I have been part of this wonderful team throughout this year, that I have helped from my heart in everything I could and that I have learned very valuable things, but above all, I can say that I take with me people of incalculable value and that I could not be more grateful to each and every one of them.

This project, as well as giving me the chance to work in such a fascinating organisation, has given me the opportunity to meet incredible people with whom I have lived, travelled, met myself, laughed and cried.

A Greek, a Serbian, 2 Spaniards, 3 Italians and many Portuguese have been my magic people in this stage, people who come into your life when you least expect it, gain your trust and get into your world in the most special way. Together we have lived a hard year in many ways (not everything was going to be good), almost 5 months of the 12 that my stay in Portugal lasted we spent locked up at home, some of the time due to general orders and the rest due to direct contact with COVID positive people. In spite of everything we were able to find our spaces to eat together, because Fridays were family Fridays, we were able to discover parts of Aveiro that probably in another situation we would not have even considered, we made nature our best place to share and meet each other but above all, we have grown and we have been together until the last day.

Thanks to each and every one of YOU.
See you soon.
Barbara MV

PS- Would I recommend the project? Yes, Yes, Yes and a million times Yes. But only if you are really going to live it intensely, with an open mind and without expectations.

Barbara MV