It is more difficult than I thought to relive the memories of my humanitarian mission. Not that they were negative, far from it, but it is such a unique experience for everyone that it is complicated to put it into words. I think the best way is to simply tell my story and let the words speak for themselves.
In June 2015, I was about 20 years old and, despite my young age, I had been trying to get involved in humanitarian work for many years. To find a purpose, a meaning and through it, an identity. I could not conceive of living a banal life, I had to act and find a use for myself so that I would not end up living in vain. In a way, it was a form of selfishness that pushed me to go to Bolivia.
After a year of organizing various events and soliciting many sponsors, the Humanitarian Office of Strasbourg Business School, of which I was an active member, had raised the necessary funds to send a delegation of fifteen students. I was lucky enough to be selected to be part of it.
And so we left, the fifteen of us, for an adventure that we had all chosen to live. Some to do a good deed before starting their working lives, others to give back to the world what they have received until then, and finally some who, like me, were looking for themselves at the time.
A month is too short of a time to be spent across the world living among the locals and working with them. We spent our weeks in the Maria Cristina orphanage working on the construction of a motor room designed for children with disabilities, children that we also helped to supervise. while half of our group worked hard on the site, the other half assisted the caregivers with the children.
I will always remember the first day at Maria Cristina. I have never been comfortable with children, even in France, and I have never been familiar with disability before. I remember wondering how would I help them. So I spent most of my time on the site, where I was in known territory.
But over the years, I regret it somewhat. Despite my doubts and clumsiness, the love and simplicity of Maria Cristina’s children touched me more than reason. I remember that, as soon as we arrived and every day after that, they called us “tio”, “tia” (uncle/aunt), happy to see us.
By the time our work was finished, and the hour of farewell came, I was pounding with joy, sadness and melancholy. Part of me stayed there where the children laugh with a simple and unadorned love.
So, when we last saw each other, we sang to a tune from Le Temps des Cathédrales, that our work was done and that we had to leave, with a light heart. That we will never forget what was experienced and accomplished here.
And now, when I doubt, I remember that somewhere on the other side of the world there is a room that I partly built with my own hands and that is used every day by children who deserve it.
Personally, I have gained a lot, much more, I think, than I have ever given. For now I know that this is the path I want to take and that it is by helping others that I will truly accomplish myself. I know that I will never be satisfied with a pay slip and a regular job when I could be there. I have also made exceptional friends who I like to see again as soon as I get the chance. An adventure, memories and a tacit pact bounding us forever, I believe. And today, I am about to go back to discover the beauties of the world to share them in my texts and images.
You are inspired by this mission and want to join the adventure?