The time is now!
This is an interview with a former volunteer Karen Helga Hansen who took part in volunteer programme in age 65. An interensting read what will make us conclude that anyone can volunteer and best time to do it is now.
She decided to join our 24 months programme at the age of 65. She moved to Brazil in young age with her Austrian mother and an Danish father.
When Karen was 50 years old, she moved to Germany and she was surprised of how well everything was organized. How you could go to the doctor, how there was 30 different kinds of bread at the bakery. But she discovered that people weren’t happy. They were complaining so much over the small stuff.
She also noticed that people depended on the system. In Brazil people depend on each other. They have no system. And she thought maybe that is better. To rely on people.
“Maybe I saw things differently
because of my age.”
In her early 60’s Karen lost her younger brother. When he got sick the doctor told him: “If you want to do something, do it now. You will die soon.” Karen felt it was also right for her. She did not have a specific time limit like her brother, but we will all die someday.
Most of her life she dreamed about going to Africa. Not to do social work, just to go see it – but she had no money. She saw a little ad from Lindersvold in a newspaper and made a call. The 18 months programme could fulfill Karen’s desire to work and earn her way to this education. Karen’s older brother was sceptic, and they went to visit the school together.
When Karen started working at the school, she was a driver, a cook, the go-to service person. Her English improved and soon she was ready to begin her education. She was very political at first. But she learned that it is important to understand Africa. During her school period she asked an old Danish couple why some people are poor. They said, that poor people don’t work hard. But Karen knew by then that it is not true. They were born into poverty.
Coming to Malawi Karen had to fight a few of her prejudices. She was not there to save the world – she was there to work. But she was surprised how well she fitted in.
“I felt like I belonged there.
I became less selfish, and I worked for them.”
When Karen came back to Germany, she started a business selling second-hand clothes to sponsor an orphanage in Malawi. “The clothes-consumerism here is terrible. Adidas should pay me to wear their stuff. I don’t need it.”
To the question of what was the most important part of the experience Karen does not hesitate: “The people I met. Even there was nobody my age, I made friends with the other students, and we still meet up. And through the whole period there never was a job I couldn’t do. I never felt like I was in the wrong place.”
Karen is now 70 years old and is considering joining our planet protection programme.
”I used to hear that ’age is just a number’.
Now I know it is actually true.”
Volunteer and find your people
Long term volunteer programs consist of 3 periods
3 months in the Learning Center in Denmark preparing yourself for project time. Knowing more about issues of the world, learning about cultural differences and a lot more. Helping to run the school.
6 months in the projects in India, Malawi, Zambia or Mozambique working in various fields like Child Aid, Agriculture, Education, Community Development.
3 months back in Denmark in the learning center to conclude and reflect on your program time. You will share your experience with the world by making presentations and written materials of your time here.
Now Karen is actively organizing flea markets to sponsors preschool in Chilangoma, Malawi.
“People don’t understand that they are addicted to buying new things. It’s a sickness.”
INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
TOGETHER WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD
Lindersvold is an international learning center that facilitates courses in community development and certification in non-traditional pedagogy. Our Center provides an opportunity to learn about the big issues of our time while preparing to assist community-driven projects in Zambia, Malawi or Mozambique. We believe in combining hands-on training with theoretical knowledge, alongside community living, gives students the best foundation for working with sustainable development and vulnerable youth.
On International Family Day we wish to highlight some of the activities that our project partners do in order to support families and communities in these corona crisis times.
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