Uruguay – Virginia Mallarini: "Wealth is in meeting and commitment"

03 July 2019

(ANS - Montevideo) - Virginia Mallarini, a young 26-year-old woman from Montevideo, is part of the Salesian Missionary Volunteer Service (VMS). She is currently studying biology and works as an animator. In this interview she presents what God has sown in her life and that has emerged with enthusiasm during her mission at “El Cottolengo” center of Montevideo, which offers a shelter, a socialization, recreation and rehabilitation home, empowering girls, adolescents and women with disabilities.

Why did you decide to participate in the Cottolengo mission?

For some time I wanted to do the "Shemà" experience, but I had not yet succeeded. During Holy Week I always look for something to help me live it more profoundly, and last year the mission happened precisely in those days. I knew it was at "Cottolengo", which is why I was very afraid, because my sister was really transformed by that experience.

How was this mission?

Those who live in Cottolengo come to you, they ask you ... Everything is new. The first day was like an earthquake that destroyed all those fears I had and allowed me to build new perspectives in my life ... I had many questions, and seeing the situation of so many people I asked myself: where does the dignity of the person reside?

Did that reality touch you?

Yes. You think you need so many things to be happy. And to find these sick, abandoned lives, needy people ... shows you that the road does not go where you thought.

Was it a discovery or did you find something that was already inside you?

I feel that something of my person emerged from within me. God is sowing things, and then suddenly something blooms. With those inner fears, God was asking me for something else, which has proper names: to serve, to accompany.

Have you continued going to Cottolengo once the experience is over?

When the mission terminated, we looked at each other among the volunteers and knew we would be back. It was then that I found something that completed my life in the service of others. The idea was that the initiative should have strong roots and not be guided by the selfishness of feeling good. The first thing we agreed on was that we had to create in girls and women the feeling of having someone, of not being abandoned by family and friends, who go once and then never again. Our life must be with them.

What do you do during your visits to Cottolengo?

We made close ties with some of them. Let us remember that there are 200 people inside. Everyone is making friends. They are moments of dialogue, of sharing. Wealth lies in the encounter and commitment, in the sharing of the two worlds: ours and theirs.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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