“” said the poet Rumi.
I read this quote in one of the offices of, one and, among the many motivational quotes hanging on those walls, I found this particularly meaningful for telling the new story.
When you move to a new country and there is a global pandemic,will be one of the biggest challenges to be faced, (I understand that this is an extreme situation, but international mobility has not completely stopped: there are many people who have moved in this crazy period). Beyond the restrictions, which stop socialization, even in a pre-covid context, creating a circle of friends and acquaintances that will make you call that place " ”, can be challenging for many.
As some of you know, I recently moved to Toronto but, my work visa is still pending (I talk about it in this video) and I have to wait to be able to work in Canada. To stop is not easy and I struggled to find the romantic side of all this available.
During the current pandemic I have seen many: some who have learned a new language, lost weight, cooked, did yoga, spent time with their family, etc ...
What worked for me was: during the long and first lockdown in Italy, I supported and followed my (then) 12 and 8 year old sisters with their online school and, while I lightened their days a little, they helped me to .
Caring for people, relationships, and words is simply my: my survival strategy and I tried to put it into practice even here in Toronto.
MY (FIRST) VOLUNTEERING EXPERIENCES IN TORONTO:
is a neighborhood made up of tall buildings, (sorry we are in North America, they are real skyscrapers), which is 5 minutes walk from our house. For me, coming from an experience in Dharavi (India), one of the largest slums in the world, reading that S. James Town is , makes me smile a little, but it's the truth of this huge country, which has just over half of the citizens of Italy.
Canada is certainly not a poor country but inlike Toronto, not everyone enjoys the same opportunities and lifestyle, and if you ever go there, you will also see several people . The area of St. James Town is mainly inhabited by immigrants and families with less financial resources.
In November I started collaborating with the organization "", which provides a set of services and aids to the citizens of the area: with a focus on young people and the elderly, dealing with health, job, skills, and other typical services of the third sector.
“" - is the moto of the and, entering only one of these buildings, you immediately realize it. I can see the cultural and social variety present simply by waiting for these immense elevators that carry the elderly, young people, drug addicts, immigrants, dogs, madmen, delivery guys and even me.
Twice a week,to some people, mostly elderly people who, for different reasons, are not able to have it by themselves.
The food is cooked by volunteers at one of the organization's offices and, every day, at least 3 people take care of distributing it. We are given these large backpacks, delivery food type, with whom. We are careful to allergies and intolerances, and preferences as much as possible. The round of deliveries can last 30 minutes or two hours, depending on the days. You walk a lot, and I must say that I have firmed up my backside and, incredible but true: you sweat!
Inside the buildings you die of heat, poor, and between the walk, the weight of the deliveries and my huge jacket set at -30 °, I literally start dripping. I started tying it at the waist like in middle school but I repeat: the jacket is bigger than me.
Thewith the beneficiaries are for the most part . Some of them even take 5 minutes to open the door, others have the automatic one and you don't even see them, who knows where they are hidden?
There are simpler situations and some more complex obviously: they are, some literally submerged by things, boxes, memories, clusters of life. Some are shy and silent, while others can't wait to have a chat with you.
M. is always waiting with the door open, you know where his house is even if you don't read it on the list. You have to follow thethat he likes to listen loudly. He takes two portions but I've never seen another person, will it be dinner? I don't know and that's okay.
C. has oriental origins, and once she asked me if she couldbecause I reminded her of a Bollywood star. The best compliment ever!
E. and P. come from Peru instead. She jumps up when she sees I'm here because she can talk a few words in Spanish. "” she always tells me, after asking me each time if I have children and a husband.
S. is nasty, nothing suits her, you have to be careful how you answer her because she looks for a reason to. I think she likes me.
House 222 is inhabited by an Indian family, from, I told them I was in India but they weren't very happy, they didn't give a damn, what a beautiful life lesson!
B. once asked me if I could make a call for him: he told me the number, he knew it by heart: he called(shop where you buy alcohol!). Damn!
Between one delivery and another, I imagine their stories and how much their life may have hurt them but then ...!
“Who is it?”
They open the door for me, I'll never know how they ended up in this situation:
“This is for you!”.
I don't have to know.
is a big Toronto's NGO that deals with , is extremely organized and also has a beautiful location with offices, reception and meeting rooms.
With them I did a small volunteer experience, which lasted only 3 days in December 2020, but which left its mark (in the sense that I hadfor an entire week! :D).
Okay, that's how I told everyone, but unfortunately they didn't make us dress up! 🙁
Fortunately, the organization has many, who receive their . Me, the very nice coordinator, and 3 other volunteers spent 3 days packing these letters and sending them to the various donors. If I remember correctly now, I did at least 400, and I was the slowest of all.
In addition, I got pulled into another activity (my friend Eleonora always tells me I say too many yes!):for the children of their different programs. In short, open the amazon boxes sent by donors and do the inventory. A lot of work! There were some beautiful gifts, every now and then I had to stop and not open them completely. The NGO organizes a Christmas Market every year, but this year it was not possible to do so.
Gerald, the volunteer coordinator, is one of those people whosetalking about life, and he made sure that we were always at ease: creating moments of dialogue, silence and reflection together. It is a Christian organization and we also said a prayer.
I have undersood how, in the evening I fell asleep at 21:00, and with pain everywhere. However, it was nice to spend the day with other people, new people, and tell each other a few good things, or just talk about the weather. I had a great impression about the NGO, great professionalism and a sparkling spirit: I would really like to work in such an environment! Indeed, when I can work, I will send my CV to them! Say a little prayer for me!
Once a month, this small association,organizes in St. James Town but, with the pandemic, this precious moment of aggregation has stopped. The group of volunteers, coordinated by Laura and Jack, however, meet once a month, and bring directly a good lunch, and some vegetables, to the elderly of the area.
During the Christmas period it was particularly exciting, because in addition to the usual lunch (a first course, second course, fruit, dessert, and a juice), we also delivered a. I also received one, and it was an incredible gesture for me, as I still find it a bit difficult to feel part of the city. Toothpaste, tissue papers, candies, a cloth to open the jars, how much wonder lies in the little things!
It makes me smile to think that some of the elders of this program are enrolled in the list of the first NGO I was talking about: that day they will receive! Yeah!
The organizers of this initiative are elderly too if I am not wrong, friends of Vickie, the one who started all this, who, unfortunately, passed away. Her friends also do it in her memory..
The volunteers I met are very different: many young people, some jobless, others only willing to help. Once, a volunteer said that ""; it seemed like a common thing to say, simple but so true. I liked it.
Not alwaysis a selfless act. We are selfish, narcissistic and capitalistic humans, but wait, these are not always negative adjectives.
You can dedicate yourself to volunteering because you believe in a different world, in a world that helps those in difficulty, for civic sense and responsibility. You can do this to feel better about yourself, and to feel happy. I do it because I've been for a lifetimeand, here in Toronto, I also do it to feel more connected to my new city, to get out of the house, meet people, and - why not? - create future opportunities.
What was I saying at the beginning?
“Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place "
And in doing so, I'm feeling the soul of this place.
These volunteering experiences are part of my, this blog is another. Thank you for reading this far, I hope you too can find your defense mechanisms while the world waits to be less scary.
For those who might be interested, I found these opportunities on two sites:
I also add this curiosity: for the first two organizations, I had to send my CV, do a short telephone interview and they contacted two of my references. Volunteering is a serious thing 🙂