Soon after my arrival in Luanda, I realised that I was going to have some free time available, and I decided to spend it doing something useful and involving with the local community.
I started my research for volunteering opportunities and a blog post caught my eye. It was Ashima’s post on how she started her volunteering journey in Luanda. Ashima has been volunteering at the Fundação Arte e Cultura (Foundation for Art and Culture) for more than a year. I decided to get in touch with them and soon after I got a very warm and welcoming response inviting me to the foundation. The next day as I walked into the foundation little that I knew it would become such a beautiful part of my life in Luanda.
I was a bit hesitant initially as I had never worked with children before and my Portuguese then was much poorer than now. But as I slowly started doing little activities with children, I felt, with children there never are any barriers. All you need is a heart full of love and everyone speaks the language of love.
I found plenty of activities to do with kids, keeping them busy and having fun. Together we played, sang, learned new things, created new games and reinvented the old.
The children coming to the Fundação are wonderful, and full of love and energy. Fundação Arte e Cultura, is a beautiful place with wonderful projects. Without doubt it is the best place I could have found in Luanda, and I am very happy to go there as often as I can. The staff working there really make you feel welcome and at home.
When my daughter Amy came to visit us in Luanda, I didn’t think twice before taking her there. It was wonderful to see how the children and Amy soon took to each other. Every day that we volunteered together was special. To see them all exploring, learning and having fun together. No amount of travelling around would have shown her Luanda better.
In her own words…
“I visited Luanda for the first time this April as my parents are living there, and since my Mum volunteers at the foundation, she took me there to work with her for a few days. As I’m only 16, and have no younger siblings, I have never had any experience with working with children before, and so I had no idea how the days were going to work out – especially since I don’t speak Portuguese. However, I don’t think my experience could have been any better – from the moment I arrived to the day I left, I was constantly being spoken to and hugged by all the children. Even though they knew I didn’t speak Portuguese, that didn’t stop them from talking to me, and we were able to communicate without a problem; by the end of my trip, I could tell that my Portuguese had improved thanks to them. The children were so friendly, and kept me busy and having fun all day due to all the different activities and games we organised, such as singing and dancing, and playing twister – I was sad to say goodbye. The staff at the foundation were also really welcoming – it’s safe to say I will definitely be coming back next time I visit!”
Volunteering added a whole new meaning to living in Luanda but volunteering together with family adds a new joy to the experience. It also gives us, as a family, to see each other differently.
As they say in Portuguese – “Muito obrigada”
Yolanda and Amy