Although, initially, I saw myself without the right or ability to tell you something that would motivate you for your next project, I just want to share a little bit of my heart that is being formed over the years and in which the experiences lived in Equatorial Guinea when I was 18 years had a big impact on him.
I can’t say exactly which Adriana was before and which after. It is not a change of routine or a modification of a specific habit; it is an evolution of thought: of what you know, what you think you know, what you understand and what you don’t understand. It is about the perception you have of the world and your environment.
To separate ourselves from our bodies
The first thing I would say is that for this experience we have to separate ourselves from our bodies. And by that I mean forgetting our personal interests, our prejudices… It is a time to be reborn, to learn again. It is to find a new facet of yourself clean of the influences of the society that we are building. It is rediscovering lost values along the way, nuances in their maximum splendor, unnoticed details, and finding yourself.
Because, at least in my case, it was not the answer to all the problems in the world, but I did discover what I value and what is important to me. And something that was emphasized during my time in Guinea was the feeling of connection, togetherness and collaboration.
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from… The important thing is your energy and enthusiasm, and that unites everyone. From there, everyone wants to know absolutely anything you say or do, and they’ll teach you back. That’s where it all starts.
After the first few days that you may feel more lost and that you don’t know how to act, you begin to know what your place is.
I say the first moments because you have to forget what you take for granted.
For example, as soon as I arrived, I saw a baby lying on the street crying and I wanted to do something right away. Reflex action. I think it would happen to all of us (or so I hope). At that moment I didn’t know what to do and I started to think about what I would do in this situation if it had happened to me in Spain. To call the police? catch it? Options that did not seem convenient to me in Guinea.
At that moment I realized that I had to adapt, change my obvious and began to learn how to help.
Because for me the shocks are not not being able to shower for a month or juggle food, but scenes and people that stick with you. They are visits to the hospital, a student who steals your heart, a neighbor who prepares you bambucha every week because she knows you love it, understanding malaria, learning the differences between the Fang and the Bubis and knowing how to greet each one… It is being part of another community and being welcomed as one of them.
That is why I say:
Research where you are going (in all aspects: the beautiful beaches, the culture, the politics, the climate, the diseases, the food…). Take the proper precautions. Listen to the advice and ask people who have been there. It is essential to tell you that there is a lot of improvisation, and for this you need an open mind and heart. A first contact.
And if you want to continue, come back; come back again and again. Because a project like this, once you start it, it doesn’t end.
The expression “feet on the ground” no longer makes much sense to me. For me it’s “hands on my heart and eyes on my head”. And with this I just want to wish the next volunteers the best of luck: Miguel, Marcos, Paul, Javier, Raquel, Luis, Patri and Mercedes, have a good trip and spread hope.
Always here for everyone, Adriana Marijuán.