by Espérance from DR Congo

After waiting for so long, more than a year before coming to Germany, I was very happy and excited to start my volunteering service and of course I had many expectations. I was preparing myself to meet new people from everywhere, to share experiences with them, have good time together, learn new things about different cultures, learn a new language, even though I was aware of the fact that German is one of difficult languages in World. I was also expected to being challenging to work as a volunteer in a new environment and especially when it comes to Church life. I was looking forward of my place of living and to have great time at my working place, to get to know more about people who are living in the street and to learn more about that and also get along with new people i have met.

Seeing all these expectations, we can think that they are innumbrable but i am happy and greatful for my time of volunteering and to all that i have been able to achieve.

I did my volunteering service in different placements of Diaconie with different people, different collegues and different way of working. But i had fun doing my job because each had his own particularity.

I would be lying if I said that everything was rosy and that I didn’t have any problems during my year of volunteering. But I also think it’s all about preparation. I had prepared myself psychologically and morally and it paid off in such a way that I could face a situation that was not necessarily pleasant but which did not affect me directly.

The big problem I had and challenging with was the language. I even started to despair and say that I would never speak German and that it was not for me. Of course I had a language teacher but I also learned a lot from my work, I had classes everywhere and I am grateful to all those people who supported me. Today I can be so proud of my language level and so proud of what I have achieved so far. I can understand, express myself and get a message across and also hold a conversation.

I didn’t learn only German, but during this year I was also able to learn English as well, which makes me doubly proud.

I am also proud of what I have done during this year because I did a lot, many adventures, I traveled to some European countries, to some big and small cities in Germany and to take part in some German traditions. I am so happy about this.

I participated in church events, at first it wasn’t easy because of corona but I still had opportunities to be a part of church events with young people and I had a great time, meeting people from all over.

I also enjoyed every opportunity I had to sing and and to make music with other people and I’m happy and proud of what I’ve gained in musical knowledge because I’ve had a lot of them.

One of the most beautiful moments I had and which really played a big role for a good functioning of my voluntary service was living in the International Volunteershouse. The international Volunteershouse is not only a beautiful house not far from the city center, with a big and beautiful garden, but it is also my second home, where I felt comfortable and safe, where I met great people, other great volunteers from Indonesia, DR Congo and currently from Argentina and who are now like my family.

The feeling we had in the Volunteershouse was so special and I’m so grateful for having been a part of the great opportunity like this.

It is not easy to leave your country, your city, your family and the life you are used to and go to a completely different environment, far from your own and far from everything. It is threatening that you might live and work for a year in an environment where there is no peace, no love, misunderstanding, no communication, little attentions and no complicity. It would make everything more difficult than it really is.

But I am grateful to my colleagues and my roommates, all people I have met, the Church of Dortmund and to my Organisation, the United Evangelical Mission for their support in making sure that I have a year full of good memories.

With this good environment of peace and joy I discovered many things about myself that I could not necessarily see before. A lot of things I could do, a lot of qualities I have and of course flaws that I saw of lesser importance that I had to change and to improve, and that will help me in my future.

I am at the end of my volunteering service but I am enjoying my last days happier and I’m so grateful for the opportunity i had, to have served in a foreign land in an intercultural learning context.

I am so grateful to the persons I was living with, for having been more than flatmates but friends, brothers and sisters to whom you mean a lot.

I am also grateful to the Referat Ökumene for supporting us throughout our volunteering year, they have put everything in place and made sure we could not miss anything, they have been there with us in all our moments, of joy as well as tears. A big thank to them all.

It was a great experience working at the Diaconie and a privilege sharing my heart and joy out with the persons I have worked with. I count my service as a way of assisting persons with needs to live normal lives as any other person. Of course, this is what the whole belief and faith in God is about.

My engagement with persons with different backgrounds have really helped me to be more open minded. I came across working with people from not only Germany but also from so many other countries. This means a lot of cultural sharing, a thing I wanted to have since I applied on this program.

I can not but be grateful to the United Evangelical Mission to the opportunity that was giving to me of living and working voluntarily one year in Germany. I met wonderful persons and made great friends and that is why I feel sad leaving them but also so glad to be soon with my family.

During my volunteering service, the most important take out is that I have rich experiences, skills and knowledge I gained and that I’m excited to share with other friends and people in my congregation and community back in DR. Congo.

It was a year of life worth living 🙂