Social Sabbatical: Immersion and realizations.

“Bom dia!”

The day always starts with a warm greeting and a friendly smile. Every weekday at the FUCAS headquarters, adults and youth alike, whenever they can, would stop what they are doing for a while just to greet, smile or nod at the SAP volunteers. The environment in FUCAS is beaming with positivity and energy, each day holds a promise of something better.

When we first arrived, we had the chance to meet most of the people working at FUCAS and even the people FUCAS are helping. On the first day, we spent 3 hours touring the whole ground, greeting everyone, introducing ourselves, explaining what we’re here for and likewise getting to know what they do in FUCAS.

During the introductions, one young female asked us the question “how can you help us?”. It was the simplest question and we explained what we were here for, well at least we tried in the manner we know, but painfully it was not understandable to someone in a non-business context. It brought to surface the reason behind the question. Recently, FUCAS had to stop a food program they had, which was difficult for the youth to cope with, as most of them rely on the food served at FUCAS as their meal for the day. One young male asked us upfront if we will be helping to bring the said food program back. This tugs at our heart and we are motivated more than ever to help out where we can.

In paper, our scope of work is centered around helping FUCAS with their internal culture alignment and developing a sustainable strategic planning process. We have a project to complete in a 4–week period. It is tangible. It is deliverable. As days and weeks go by, being in an environment like FUCAS, seeing the youth and educators do what they do and how passionate they are with what they are doing, our work goes beyond what is dictated on paper.

Just yesterday, we visited the communities around FUCAS, known to most as “favelas”, where the foundation’s beneficiaries and families are residing.

For our safety, we are not allowed to bring our phones while visiting the communities. Oussama took this photo near FUCAS.

It was a sobering experience, getting a glimpse of how life is inside these communities. Some families do not have what is necessary for a comfortable life. I mentioned earlier how some of them relied on the food at FUCAS. Some young adults choosing to get involved in drug trafficking thinking the gains are better, than going to FUCAS. It reminds me of the poverty back in my country and the drug problems our nation is battling. We won’t have any indication of what other people are going through with their lives, as sometimes, if not most times, they go with their days with a smile.

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