The InterNations Volunteer Groups are all about supporting one another and extending a hand to those in need. Celebrating the International Day of Friendship, held on 30 July, is therefore something that comes natural to our Volunteer Groups.
We have interviewed the InterNations Volunteer Group Consuls about their experience with building friendships through the InterNations Community, and we are excited to share their stories with you. We’d also like to highlight some amazing activities that will make you want to jump straight into showing your appreciation for those who need it the most.
What We Can Learn about Friendship from the Volunteer Group Consuls
Aline Moura, Brazil:
“I´ve definitely made friends through my InterNations Volunteer Group; they are not only dedicated volunteers, but now they have also become important people in my life. It brings happiness and adds a lot of color and interest to my world,” says Aline, Consul of the São Paulo Volunteer Group.
Aline supports the non-profit organization Cidadão Pró-Mundo, which promotes equal opportunities and social integration through teaching English to nearly 1,500 low-income students. “I usually ask the InterNations Volunteers to talk with the students — not only to introduce themselves, but also to share their lives and their experience.”
“I can see the importance of friendship for the students as well,” she stresses. “They are always super-friendly and ready to help each other.”
Caroline Kemunto, Kenya:
“The key to friendship is kindness. It doesn´t have to be a grand gesture — a simple action already shows how much you appreciate someone. Kindness also includes being the first one to make a move in extending a helping hand. If someone sees you making an effort to get to know them, they in turn will be more willing to get to know you, too.”
And what can we do to build a bridge of friendship between different cultures? Caroline, Consul of the Geneva Volunteer Group, thinks that “we have to be willing to step out of our comfort zone. To truly relate to those who are from different cultures, we cannot aim to change them to be like us. We have to create a space of coexistence, where we learn more about one another and accept one another.”
Barcelona and Brussels Strive to Make People Feel Acknowledged
Irina Akelyeva from the Barcelona Volunteer Group invited the members of the Group to join the Best Buddies Friendship Walk. Best Buddies is a non-profit organization, for volunteers to create opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
The activity in question allows volunteers to be paired up with a buddy with a disability in order to be their friend or mentor during the walk.
This creates an atmosphere for new friendships to prosper and to promote inclusion for all. Moreover, the volunteers were asked to donate ten euros, which will be used to support future “Best Buddies” activities.
In Brussels, the InterNations Volunteer Group, which currently counts over 900 members, is determined to make people who are ignored all too often feel seen and appreciated as well. Katy Sanderson and various group members went to join the “Food4Friends” soup kitchen.
Food4Friends serves food and drinks to homeless people three times a week all year round. “Hundreds of people live on the streets in and around Brussels-North, one of the three major railway stations in town. All of them have fallen on hard times, and we want to support them with food and friendship.” That’s how the organization itself describes its mission.
Volunteers are also asked to bring along sandwiches, soup, tea, or even clothing. However, it’s not just about serving food and donating goods — it’s about creating relationships with homeless people, about hearing their stories, listening to what they need, and leaving lasting impressions on one another.
The Doha Volunteers Continue to Be Friends to Those in Need
For Mark Thomson, Consul of the Doha Volunteer Group, building friendships and being a friend to others is an important aspect of his life. Last month, he proved once again how devoted he is to humanitarian causes: he brought together 300 InterNations Volunteers to donate food and household items to a local camp of migrant workers in Qatar. “Each of these thousands of workers needed friends to support them, someone that cares about the marginalized and disenfranchised.”
In total, the group delivered more than four tons of necessary goods to the workers. “There´s nothing more beautiful than seeing people of all races, colors, and creeds come together for a good cause, to help those people who need it the most; total strangers, yes, but also fellow human beings who deserve our care and our compassion.”
If you’d like to get involved in activities for a good cause, please check if there is a Volunteer Group in your InterNations Community. Every InterNations member can join the group and take part in the activities!
(Image credit: InterNations)