Ecuador – "I could open my heart by living with the people of Simiatug": Eliška's volunteering experience

05 December 2019

(ANS - Simiatug) – A year ago, Eliška Obermajerová had difficulty speaking because of the language barrier: she had left the Czech Republic to go as a volunteer in the Salesian community of Simiatug without understanding Spanish. After twelve months, her Spanish is fluent and it is possible to start a pleasant conversation with her on the meaning of this experience in her life.

In remembering the moments lived, she flashes an eloquent smile. She confesses that the beginning was not easy. When asked about the most beautiful experience she remembers, she thinks a little and then replies: “The fact of opening my heart by living with humble people, because it is a situation that is not lived in my native country. And also the emotional bond that I managed to establish with people."

Eliška has also worked as an English teacher for more than 200 indigenous children; she was an arts and crafts instructor at the oratory and kitchen assistant in the community and in a refectory for the elderly.

What do you leave in Simiatug?
I left without religious experience, but with an open heart and children are very sensitive to this. In schools there was always a good reaction on their part. Being different from the others, they will surely remember me because I spoke English, Czech and because I made cakes. One thing I carry with me is the friendship of the women who work in the community.

The most difficult moment?
At the beginning the most difficult thing was the language and since I am not Catholic I discovered this part of my life. Furthermore, the experience of living in community, with other younger volunteers and not feeling alone.

How did the Salesians contribute?
I didn't know what it meant to live in community, and it's interesting to see how this relationship between brothers works, the difficulties they face and the ways in which they try to cooperate with each other.

What would you say to other people so they can have this experience?
Of all the experiences, both work and study, none gave me as much learning as volunteering. It opens your mind and it's something you can't obtain anywhere else. It is important to think that not everything is money, but that you do some things because it is the right thing to do. Thus each one discovers their own potential.

A word for the community that welcomed you ...
Thank you for accepting me, for having been with me in good and bad moments, I will carry this experience with me forever. I don't know when, but I will definitely come back to Ecuador.

Cristian Calderón


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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