THOSE WHO STAY AND THOSE WHO GO BACK: THE STORIES OF OUR VOLUNTEERS AROUND THE WORLD
Maria decided to stay in Cambodia to help the organization despite the coronavirus emergency. She is a volunteer with the EU Aid program and an expert in communications and advocacy against human trafficking. For most of our volunteers, the global pandemic has not changed the strong motivation that prompted them to join the program in the first place. In total, we have around 40 volunteers who were involved in the European Union initiative when the covid-19 health crisis began. The EUAV program offers the opportunity to be involved in activities in humanitarian emergencies in non-European countries. “We know how hard it is to stay away from home in these difficult moments”, explains Maria Chiara Lesi, WeWorld's EU Aid Volunteers Manager, “but it was also necessary to inform volunteers about the risks of such long journeys, for themselves and for others. We offered everyone the opportunity to stay in the countries where they were or to return. Most have chosen to stay, showing a great sense of responsibility. So we thank them, because they are really making a big contribution to our emergency health activities around the world".
Lavinia, who left Italy a few days before the lockdown, also remained in Cambodia with Maria. She saw tourists - who normally stay in the city, since it is close to the Angkor temple complex - leaving Siem Reap, which became empty. Now, there are only a few tourists and they have decided to remain only because they are afraid or do not yet know how they can leave. “Despite difficulties, I’m working on many activities that the organization carries out - she says from the house where she is working from– I’m happy to stay and continue because I think that moving as little as possible during the pandemic is essential”. What worries her most is the situation of migrants who from Thailand were forced to return to Cambodia, before the closure of the borders. They now find themselves without the means to be able to support their families, in a context of substantial economic fragility.
Martino remained in Mozambique, where he arrived in November to help rural communities mostly affected by the Idai cyclone, which in March 2019 ravaged Beira city and the surrounding area, destroying houses, schools, hospitals and the main infrastructures. He is now working to raise awareness of all the necessary mesaures to avoid an outbreak of indections, including COVD-19, among communities. This would be a fatal blow for the already hardly hit country. To achive this, along with our local staff, Martino wrote Previeni: a music video that reminds people of the basic rules to avoid infections through dance moves and the engaging rhythm of marrabenta, traditional Mozambican music. “When I left Italy as a volunteer, I never imagined that anything like this would happen. But I decided to stay where I could make my contribution, side by side with the Mozambicans. I came here as an expert in communications, and information and awareness are fundamental tools to combat the spread of Covid-19".
Angus, another volunteer, has intstead decided to return from Mozambique because his asthma, makes him a vulnerable person in the current situation. Gemma has also returned from Kenya because "although the Kenyan health system is one of the best in Central and Eastern Africa, the emergency was rapidly turning into a security problem". Even Cristina, a volunteer in project management in Tunisia, has returned home, a place that has now become for her a “symbol of protection as it has not been for years - she says - I also realize that it is not like this for everyone. This is why I am proud of realities such as WeWorld which remains alongside those who, on the contrary, cannot find any kind of tranquility and protection within their homes”. All volunteers, those who remained abroad and those who returned, continue to be connected with the initiative, remotely in some cases, and with all security measures in place.