Being a volunteer is a rewarding vocation

Publié: 21 août 2016 23:00 CET

“Being a volunteer is a rewarding vocation; it means a lot of dedication. I have learned to appreciate everything I have,” says Karen Castro, a twenty-year-old volunteer, when she describes her work at the Ecuadorean Red Cross. She affirms that she would not change this experience for anything else.

Karen lives with her mother in Quito, but since the earthquake occurred she travels to the affected areas to carry out volunteering activities. It is not easy to be away from home, but she knows her reward comes in the form of gestures of gratitude: warm smiles, hugs, encouraging words. This inspires her to keep helping others without expecting anything in return. 

Karen is visiting the Manabí province for the second time after the 16 April emergency. She affirms that her experience as a Red Cross volunteer has made her a better person.

She remembers the first time she came to help the people of Manabí one month after the disaster. She saw people with physical injuries caused by the earthquake, but she was more moved by the people’s fear and emotional pain.

Three months later, she is walking again in the same streets but the situation has changed. She recognizes the people she met, but now they have a positive attitude and look forward to recover what has been lost. Karen says this encourages her to continue her humanitarian work for as long as it takes. 

“Being a volunteer is to grow up, get up and go to help others. In return you get the hope of helping people move forward. I always remind them that they are not alone, that we are here to help them,” says Karen.

To date a total of 4,772 Red Cross volunteers have travelled to the provinces of Manabí and Esmeraldas to bring support to the families affected by the earthquake.