AFS’s mission can be boiled down to making the world a better place. In times when ‘business-as-usual’ is an option, we would be working towards making a difference by facilitating exchange programs and spreading intercultural knowledge in the world.
In March we had to make the decision of ending our 2019/2020 programs early worldwide. The vast majority of our participants have returned home and many of our volunteers are in lockdown. The world did not stop though, even if it feels like it sometimes. So how can we keep on contributing to creating a more peaceful world?
AFS was founded in times of crisis – during WW I and II. Since then, we have grown to become a huge community of global citizens. And global citizens take action, especially in times of need.
Our world has been turned upside down with the arrival of COVID-19. Confined to a more or less restricted reality, we are all in the process of trying to create a sense of normalcy in our lives. Volunteering is a crucial element of who AFSers are. Most of us are looking for opportunities to keep giving back to our communities. And some have already found ways to do so.
Here are some stories of incredible AFS volunteers who are helping those in need during the pandemic:
Volunteers from AFS Egypt decided to visit orphanages and help with the supply of food and hygiene products that children need. They also brought plants the kids could nurture and grow. Why plants? The volunteers had a simple but beautiful answer: growing plants gives you hope of a joyous future.
One volunteer from AFS South Africa is making masks for essential services providers. The masks are made from materials available at home and each comes with a heartfelt message from AFS. The masks are distributed by a local organization.
FEEDING THOSE IN NEED
Keegan, a volunteer from AFS South Africa has used his time in isolation to reflect deeply on how privileged we are. Just the fact of having something to eat every time we are hungry is an incredible privilege. He and his siblings visited Wesbank; a community overwhelmed with socio-economic problems. They delivered over 20 bags of food parcels and fed over 80 kids.
TAKING CARE OF ANIMALS
Anushree, an AFS Alumna from India, started feeding the stray animals in her community and encourages friends and family to do the same. Anushree shared: “Due to the outbreak of the virus, the world stopped operating overnight and all of us became helpless. In times like these, the only way to pull through is by helping with whatever little bit from our end for the needy which also includes the voiceless.”
We hope that the dedication of these people to help their local communities will inspire volunteers and staff around the world. Inspire them to stay kind and support those who need it the most in times of hardship.