2021-05-03 BRAZIL

PUC of Rio Grande do Sul promotes online volunteering

Contributing to the culture of solidarity in times of separation

Marist Volunteering is one of the main initiatives of the Pastoral and Solidarity Centre of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS), a university linked to the Marist Province of Brasil Sul-Amazônia. The Pastoral and Solidarity Centre works on various projects with the aim of promoting evangelisation and guaranteeing Marist identity and values at PUCRS.

Since 2010, the PUCRS Volunteer Programme offers opportunities for volunteers to work in more than 50 institutions, in the areas of education, culture, health and social assistance. The focus is on children, people with disabilities, the elderly and families in situations of socio-economic vulnerability. Regardless of their level of education or personal skills, the programme is open to all students, teachers and collaborators who are willing to help, accompany and learn from others.

The challenge in the face of covid-19

The pandemic, however, brought great challenges to the project, given that all activities were carried out in person, with volunteers travelling to the institutions. It was necessary to rethink volunteering so that its important contribution to the community would not cease. The solution that was found was to propose that the activities be carried out virtually, with the volunteers acting online. As most institutions did not have the structure to receive volunteers in this condition, ways were sought to help them through other initiatives.

In 2020, on a pilot basis, 24 volunteers worked in two partner institutions – Pão dos Pobres and Cesmar – and provided more than 500 services, such as school support, administrative services, literary fair and motivational support. In 2021, the goal is to expand the vacancies to 50 volunteers and establish partnerships with ten institutions, on different fronts of action, and to continue building a culture of solidarity.

Both face-to-face and virtual experiences can be considered a milestone and a differentiator for our students and collaborators who accept to participate in the challenge of contributing to the culture of solidarity through educational volunteering.

The great new development for 2021 is that, based on these work experiences and the guidelines of the Department of Collaboration for International Mission (CMI) of the Marist Institute and of the Marist Province of Brasil Sul-Amazon, we have begun discussions to develop an interprovincial volunteering project for the university.

Do you want to know more about volunteering at PUCRS? Go to https://www.pucrs.br/pastoral/

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