While donating money has always been a respectable source of charity, I find the importance of physically interacting with those who you wish to help to be a far more rewarding experience. Throughout graduate school, I did not have the funds to attend fancy galas for the relevant causes of the world, however, I did have enough frequent flyer miles to make a trip to Brazil to volunteer and learn about the Brazilian economy as a part of my JD/MBA program. Within my program in Brazil, I was referred to Meninos do Morumbi to volunteer teaching music and dance to youths in the favelas of São Paulo.
Nestled in one of the most dangerous parts of São Paulo, Meninos do Morumbi offers daily performing arts classes to Brazilian underprivileged youths ranging from eight to eighteen years of age. The aim of this organization is to show another choice in life than committing crime. Students of Meninos do Morumbi attend everyday after school to learn performing arts disciplines such as: music, theatre, and dance. At the end of each day, a volunteer makes the students a dinner that is far more substantial than what they can afford at home. As a result of this program, many youths have been accepted to world-renowned music schools such as, "Berklee School of Music," in Boston, had the opportunity to perform traveling around the world, and ultimately, had an opportunity for a life beyond the favelas that is crime free.
Since I grew up with the opportunity to study dance for thirteen years, I decided to use my skills to dance Samba with the students at Meninos do Morumbi during my visit to Brazil. Upon volunteering, they instantly threw a Samba drum over my shoulder, put me in front of the kids, and let the music begin. The children were dancing, singing, and playing music with such talent. However, my main takeaway from the experience was the sincere joy that this organization and their volunteers provided to the children. The joy that the children were experiencing was a result of the volunteers, such as myself, participating in their performing arts education and not sending a monetary donation from an impersonal envelope.
This experience taught me a valuable lesson that will serve me for many years to come. I learned that the act of giving can transpire when one does not have infinite monetary resources to donate. The actual act of giving can be shared from donating one's time to serve a cause that is greater than themselves. Giving my time to these children was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I greatly encourage others to take the opportunity to give your volunteering time directly to others. Your presence will not only give a positive difference in someone else's life but it will also provide you a great fulfillment in your own life.