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LN – The year of volunteering: record of Argentines who decide to help

According to a survey by the consultancy Voices! in 2019 the historical peak of 2002 was surpassed; Although young people continue to be the ones who collaborate the most, men acquired greater prominence; an example is the case of the Bearded Villains Argentina Credit: Patricio Pidal / AFV

Four months ago, Juan Martín Trincado (32), a serigraphist and owner of a bar in Caballito, decided to formalize his solidary vocation. I had always felt the urge to reach out to a hand where I saw a need and, when through the father of a friend, I met the group
Bearded Villains Argentina (bearded villains), did not hesitate to join their nocturnal tours.

Like him, there are many who in the last year chose to donate part of their time. According to the latest survey conducted by Voices! Research & Consultancy and WIN International, this year already broke a record in number of volunteers: three of every 10 Argentines do community work.

It is 6% more than in 2018 and one point above the historical figure of 2002 -collar of the 2001 crisis-, where the percentage was 32%.

The complex current socioeconomic situation is presented as one of the main variables that influenced this increase. “When there are problems, the Argentines react, there is a good solidarity muscle, and from our studies, we see a relationship between the voluntary rate and the economic situation, despite the fact that people think that this type of participation is always needed,” he explains. Constanza Cilley, executive director of Voices! “The challenge – he adds – is to maintain this commitment over time.”

According to this survey, the rise of volunteers in Argentina was mainly due to a greater participation of men. This change in the sociodemographic composition is one of the most striking data in the report, to which LA NACION agreed exclusively. Two decades ago volunteering was seen more as a purely feminine activity. This was paired and a similar prevalence in men and women began to be felt globally.

The increase in poverty that Juan Martín – who everyone calls “Turquito” – was palpable in every corner was the engine that led him to join this brotherhood that runs every Wednesday the streets of Buenos Aires to deliver much more than a plate of food to those who sleep in the open: they take restraint, a word of encouragement, someone who looks them in the eye and listens to them.

El Turquito (32) distributing a portion of food during one of the night tours of the Bearded Villains Argentina
El Turquito (32) distributing a portion of food during one of the night tours of the Bearded Villains Argentina Credit: Patricio Pidal / AFV

In Argentina, Cilley explains that “unlike the growth of volunteering in 2002, which was leveraged by women and residents of the city of Buenos Aires, the current one is driven by a greater involvement of men of middle age and inside the country”.

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At present,
Bearded Villains Argentina – a brotherhood that was born in Los Angeles – has 70 members. In 2014, there were five. “As of 2018 the candidates increased and, in this last time, people who have nothing to do with the club, call us, donate us and tell us that they want to collaborate.” Today, we receive, easy, 20 or 30 calls per day. volunteers who want to join the cause, “explains Mauro Ponti, captain of this group that seeks to unite men with beards of all cultures, creeds and sexuality around four pillars: loyalty, respect for the other, family and charity.

The “Turquito” is one of those responsible for preparing the food on Wednesdays. “I can not tell you how nice it is for a baby to pull your pants and ask you: 'Can I repeat ?, This is delicious!' You realize that these capable people spend weeks without eating something like this: caloric, rich and done with love, “he says. “We do not sit idly by in front of such indifference and adversity,” he adds.

The “rough men” who walk the streets of Buenos Aires distributing food and clothing


Voices! analyzed the opinions and beliefs of 31,890 people from 41 countries around the world. The survey reveals that 29% of respondents globally spent time in the last 12 months to a nonprofit organization without receiving a salary in return. Global participation numbers remain similar to those of previous years, but our country shows a significant jump in the ranking: it moved to 14th place, while in 2005, for example, it was 46th out of 70.

Young people between 18 and 24 years of age continue to be the age group (33%) that is most involved, followed by those over 65 (29%). In Argentina, some examples are organizations like
Roof, where almost 1000 young people join every weekend, or
Mobilize, promoter of the programs “La Chocleada”, “La Naranjada” and “La Papa Solidaria”, in which secondary students participate in the hand-picking of food in hectares donated by producers. “In 2018 we had an average of 157 volunteers per program, while this year there are 242,” says Nicolás Boero, general coordinator of Movilizarse.

Volunteers to Mobilize during a
Volunteers to Mobilize during a “chocleada” held in Lobos earlier this year

In addition, from the testimonies collected, it is evident that the level of volunteering in the world grows to higher education: 42% are university students with postgraduate education versus 18% with primary education. On the other hand, the labor situation also influences: students (36%), part-time workers (33%) and retirees (32%) have a higher prevalence than full-time workers (29%), the unemployed (24%) and housewives (18%).

Franciscan Foundation, for example, there are 70 young students of the careers of psychology, social work and occupational therapy who collaborate, thanks to agreements of different universities, in the 11 programs that the NGO carries out in its two headquarters, located in the neighborhood Fuerte Apache, Ciudadela, and in Lomas de Mariló, Moreno. “The strength of volunteering has increased by 30% since 2018. They are the driving force of our work, and our free and committed delivery allows us to accompany more people and shows us a logic that has to do with giving and offering what each one has to put it at the service of the other, “says Pamela González, institutional coordinator of the foundation.

Sofía Hammar (22) studies social service at Universidad del Salvador, is from Tigre and has been a volunteer for over a year.
Pata Pila, a civil association that works together with vulnerable communities in Salta, Mendoza, Entre Ríos and Buenos Aires. Its objective is to promote community development programs, prevention of malnutrition, promotion of people and comprehensive education: they reach 564 children per week and more than 90 mothers who are trained in craft workshops, pastry, baking and sewing.

Sofía Hammar, Pata Pila volunteer, with two women from the community of Yacuy, during a sewing workshop
Sofía Hammar, Pata Pila volunteer, with two women from the community of Yacuy, during a sewing workshop

Currently and for a month, Sofía is installed in the Guaraní community of Yacuy, in Salta, coordinating the volunteers who come from all over the country. “When I come to the community and I meet all those people for whom Pata Pila works every day, and I see the programs and workshops in action, I feel that everything that is done is worthwhile. mother who last year was in the bakery workshop and today is selling bread in the square, that the one who learned sewing today prepares costumes for an act in school, or that young people organize activities for children on Saturdays, “he says. Sofia, on the other side of the phone.

In Pata Pila, the increased desire to help is also noticeable. “In 2018 there were 20 volunteers during the year, and in the summer trip, where they stayed in Yacuy, there were seven, while in January of this year, they traveled 25,” says Pilar Ermilio Paez, coordinator Regional of Pata Pila in Salta. “Most have an average age of 25 years and mostly people from the interior come to collaborate with specific projects according to the profiles of each one”, he adds.

Eight out of every 10 Argentines define themselves as solidarians according to Voices !, however, when the concrete actions are measured, the numbers decrease significantly. Cilley provides data on this: four out of 10 say donate goods; one third, money; four out of 10 gave blood sometime in life, but regularly only 6%.

“Solidarity is empathy, it is putting oneself in someone else's shoes, having respect for someone else's pain and, above all, banishing prejudices, although there are still many people who, when encountering someone asking on the sidewalk or living outside, look On the other hand, there are many more who understand that there is no need to judge lightly, and that this simple gesture is something that brings us closer, unites us as neighbors, as a society, we perceive that change of look, more and more people want to help “, concludes Mariela Fumarola, founder of
Caminos Solidarios and voluntary
Solidarity Network

How potential citizen participation

For Constanza Cilley, the challenge is that when the country manages to improve its poverty rates, this volume of participation will be maintained. “For that,” he says, “promotion and accompanying public policies are needed.” In addition, it offers a series of recommendations.

1. Contagating the desire

Half of Argentines consider that they can influence the social and political events that surround them. We must work to increase this perception in the rest, for example, incorporating it in the school curriculum or in the areas of corporate social responsibility.

2. Add the elders

Older adults represent an interesting public to promote volunteering, since their levels of satisfaction with the activity are very high; Many countries point to this segment because of their level of commitment.

3. Do “propaganda”

The volunteers are shy when it comes to talking about their work. They have to make “propaganda” of everything they give, but also of what they receive. Most declare positive changes in their lives and almost all joined after hearing these stories.

How to collaborate


Publicado en el diario La Nación