15 students from UIC Barcelona start a volunteering project in Lebanon

11/01/19
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This project is being carried out in conjunction with the Order of Malta and the Gausac Cultural Association.

Between 1 and 9 December, 15 students and 3 coordinators from UIC Barcelona worked as volunteers in Chabrouh, Lebanon, helping attend to the needs of people with functional diversity to care for and accompany them during their most difficult moments. 

The project consisted of going to Chabrouh in the first week of December, a town close to the capital of Lebanon, to look after women in a home with both mental and physical disabilities.  “On the one hand the idea behind this project is to contribute to society, and on the other hand we hope that students who participate in the project will learn how to look at their environment with new eyes, detecting the various needs in society and the world they live in” explains Micaela Infiesta, from the UIC Barcelona University Solidarity Service. 

Mar Martínez, one of the 18 volunteers who went to Chebrouh, said that after participating in this project she valued being with people a lot more, above all being truly connected.  “While there I learnt that, although I couldn’t speak their language, I was more connected to people I had only known for a week than I was to people I had shared thousand of hours with while always on our mobiles” said the student.

The idea to undertake this project arose when a group of medical students contacted the university because they wanted to begin volunteering to help refugees arriving from various Middle Eastern countries.  After making contact with the Gausac Cultural Association, an organisation that promotes culture, and university students in Sant Cugat, as well as the Order of Malta, a religious order which helps ill and needy people and already works in Lebanon, the first volunteering trip happened in December 2016.  Since then, two trips are made every year, one in December in the field of healthcare, and one in July in the field of education and society. 

“These are special experiences all the volunteers have and they lead to great transformation and personal growth” said Infiesta.  On the other hand, Martínez encouraged all students to volunteer.  “I think it is very important work because it involves caring for a sector of the population which is very much forgotten in Lebanon. A country with a long history that is experiencing conflict as a consequence of the arrival of large numbers of refugees. 

Last year UIC Barcelona signed an agreement to undertake this project with 11 other Catalan universities and the Catalan government, and to set up a pilot programme which will allow refugees from Lebanon to continue their studies after being interrupted by war.