The best way to find yourself is to get lost in the service of others
Written by Mitzi De Jesus Conejo Luna from Mexico
My name is Mitzi De Jesus Conejo Luna, I’m Mexican. I was born on October 16, 1997.
I never thought to cross half the world to find myself in a small village, but there I was, excited to fulfill a dream and scared to be far from home, tiny in the crowd.
I met SCI when I became a volunteer at the VIA VZW Project in Meihof Asylum Centre in Lint, a small village in the province of Antwerp (Belgium), where there are around 160 refugees, of which about 25 children and 18 unaccompanied minors.
The asylum centre was a big place, it had many rooms with windows to the garden, in the distance you could hear little voices shouting and running all over the place, ball bouncing on the courts, laughter on the park benches, hurried steps in the kitchen and more towards the dining room, the centre was anything but a lonely and quiet place.
Daring to leave my country was something that cost me too much, my first trip abroad, but nothing compares to the feeling of being in such a multicultural place. So many nationalities gathered in one place, so many beliefs, languages, ways of dressing and thinking – it’s amazing!
I met my fellow volunteers, each one saying his name, where he came from and his main motivation at the time.
We planned how we would work for the next two weeks, we made up games and songs to teach the children and it was amazing how even though we were from such different places we had so much in common. The main thing was the desire to make a better place.
Life in the asylum centre is not easy; there are so many children separated from their parents, abandoned, there are people who are far from their family and so many families who left everything to be there, each situation was unique.
The big differences often led to fights, the stress that refugees experience was key to the disagreements that families had and this certainly affected the children who began to believe that the only way to solve one conflict was to create another.
But that was part of our work there, that’s what we came for, to be able to improve the environment in which they lived, to distract them from their daily problems. And you start playing with the kids and you become one of them, suddenly they don’t fight anymore, they don’t cry anymore and apologies come and nothing is worth it as much as those moments.
You appreciate what you have at home, even what you don’t and you start to value and realize that maybe your life is not perfect but there are people who have a worse time and I am so grateful to SCI movements for existing and promoting international volunteering.
Many people in small places can create great things.
* This story was part of the the first SCI Stories contest “Voice yourself”. Mitzi, thank you very much for your participation. Thanks to people like you, the SCI movement continues to be alive and positively impacting the lives of thousands of people!