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Environmental Development and Agroecology
Pacheco Community Center from Voluntario Global Header Image Pacheco Community Center from Voluntario Global Header Image

Environmental Development and Agroecology

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    7

  • Day to Day Life

    7

Pacheco: "Gardening can change lives"

I signed up for Pacheco Project to join it for 12 weeks. Im in week 8 now and have been here since the beginning of February. I liked the idea of working with young people on an environmental project but It actually took me a while to understand the whole idea and the objective of Pacheco Project.That is because is it so multifaceted.

In brief words I would say that here I learned the real meaning of "sustainability": Not only in ecologic aspects but in human as well: Supporting, taking care of each other and your environment, offering perspective and education.


My review will contain everything I considered mentionable. Therefore I split it into several sections:

-ABOUT THE PROJECT
-ABOUT VOLUNTEERING/HOUSING
-WHAT I LOVED THE MOST
-SOME ADVICE IF YOU WANT TO JOIN
-DID THE PROJECT FULFILL MY EXPECTATIONS?

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Here are some Insights of the past weeks, to give you a authentic impression an explain the Idea of Pacheco and how I personally understood it:

The first thing tried to figure out was what the exact goal of the project is. Why do the kids come here every week? How does gardening course help them? But soon i noticed that it is not that easy. It's not about planting vegetables or plants and learning/teaching about climate change. It is also not only about making a group of young people from poorer neighborhoods gardeners so they can make money with those skills. It's certainly not like volunteering in a school where your tasks are clear and you immediately know what you have to do and what you can expect. That was difficult for me at first, but as I tried to let go. I just took part in the daily life of Pacheco Project and understood it better and better every day.

In my first weeks, i accompanied 11 young people, who come from the neighborhood and have been building the garden in the past year. They learned how to grow and harvest vegetables, built a little house that serves as a classroom now, and were part of building the big greenhouse in our garden. When I joined there were already tomatoes, basil, pepper and so much more veggies growing.

All of that in only year. The month of February were their last 4 weeks before finished the course. As we harvested vegetables, took care of the garden, painted the walls of the classroom or learned about commercial agriculture in theoretical classes, I also got to know the students better.

I am 19 years old most of them are my age. I learned about the problems they have, their struggles with Argentinas education system, not finding work, or being pressured to study something they do not like. Many say that sometimes they feel „let down“ by everyone around.

My first very first emotional moment was when the class graduated. We organized a graduation party where they also were handed real Diplomas. Their families attended and It was incredible touching for me to hear what changes the individual young adults underwent. One of the parents said that their son has changed so much throughout the year. He opened up, he is so much more confident now. This young boy had dropped out of school last year, and had recently told his parents he wanted to go back to this year. Only THIS showed how much of an impact this project has. Not trough putting pressure on them , but trough making them work together on something. Demonstrating that work does not always have to mean suffering. Showing someone of what they are capable of, this boosts your confidence on so many levels.

It took me a while to realize it, but the second you understand it, you will feel part of this. You notice that you as an individual have the power to actually change something.


ABOUT VOLUNTEERING/HOUSING
I came from Germany to join Pacheco for 3 months. I started my volunteer ship with another Volunteer from Switzerland. She stayed for 1 month, therefore I would spend 2 months alone. It is a pretty exciting experience, because we are the first volunteers ever to join this project. "Pacheco" is slowly establishing more and more, finding its direction and it is genuinely great to feel part of this.

The volunteers live in an own house in the Pacheco garden. You share your room and your bathroom with a maximum of 4 people. There is also a really comfortable living room where you can watch TV or eat or just spend your free time. Volunteers also have their own kitchen. It is not fully finished yet, as I said the project is still establishing. Therefore things like the kitchen needs some improvements but Valeria who is the founder and lives in another house in the garden would always help, offer her oven, or her kitchen when you need it. Sometimes we would make pizza in her kitchen and it eat. Or as I am allergic to lactose, once made me some almond milk in her blender. You live together, help each other, to me it really feels like home.


WHAT I LOVED THE MOST

The garden is simply beautiful. Can you imaging how great it feels to be cooking and say „Well,I could add some basil and tomatoes to my scrambled eggs" and you just pick it from your garden! As I spend the summer season here, we enjoy the swimming pool and the garden all day long. Every morning I would wake up to this beautiful nature view and beaming sunshine. Additionally I spend a lot of time outside.

The food. As a volunteer in Pacheco you have breakfast and lunch included. Some of the students prepare fresh lunches for you for the whole week, and get paid for this. Pacheco does also try to give the students working opportunities so they can earn some pocket money! When they can they use the vegetables from the garden. I think this is simply amazing and feels and tastes so good!



SOME ADIVCE IF YOU WANT TO JOIN


I came from Germany to join Pacheco. 3 month are a pretty long time, but people told me that once you are into the project and have your routine it would be a pity to have to cut and leave once you feel part of it.
It really took time to adjust and to understand the whole philosophy behind the Organisation. Especially in a project like Pacheco which isn't about one certain activity or has one clear object. It is so multifaceted and it personally took me 3-4 weeks to adjust to the completely new environment.

Take initiative. I was given so much freedom, it is really about WANTING to volunteer. Develop you own ideas and share them. If you see something one could do just say it and everyone will try to help you to realize it! You are part of this.

Interact. As yo you are pretty far away from the other volunteers who live together in an volunteer house in the capital of buenos aires, try to connect with the other volunteers on the monthly meetings or join the voluntary excursions. In March we joined to women’s march in Buenos Aires (watch the video I made about this day: or arrange some activity for the weekend. Last week some me and volunteers went to the museum of memory. It is a great way to learn about Argentina's history and spend some time with volunteers from the other projects.

Say what you think. As I mentioned before the project is still in its beginnings.That is great because you can shape the project with your ideas. But if there is something you do not like, that you are missing you have to say it. Valeria would always(!) try to help me and to find a solution.

Going out at night will be pretty difficult. Be aware that you are not in the capital of Buenos aires. Actually you are pretty much on the outskirts and it takes 1,5 to 2 hours to get to the city and additionally the bus station is about 800m away. I would not say it is an "unsafe" area but I did not like walking around alone at night anyway.

If I could give me some advice from this point I would say just take part in the daily life of Pacheco as much as you can, enjoy it, take initiative and be attentive.

DID (DOES) THE VOLUNTEER SHIP FULFILL MY EXPECTATIONS?

It’s pretty difficult to say what my expectations were before I started. I j wanted to join an ecologic project, because I am really interested in environmental issues. I did not know anything about gardening but I was so interested in learning about it. It was more important for me that the Organization works close to the people it is supposed to help. And i wanted to feel like I’m needed and I am making an impact. That is a pretty stereotypical statement for volunteers, but it is so important for me to feel like my material donation and personal dedication actually MATTERS.


And therefore thing I loved the most about this Project, is that as volunteer you are involved in the project, you are part of this, and you notice that you as an individual have the power to change something.
The people of the organization will treat you so wonderfully well I promise, don't hesitate just give it a try. You will gain so many experiences and insights. You will learn so much about the world and yourself. And I think this is what volunteering is about. Putting yourself behind, dipping into another perspective. Giving, not taking.

Saludos!

Constanza,19, from Germany