with a team of professionals and Chilean university volunteers, you
can help out at a homeless shelter. Optionally you can also join a
'night brigade' which goes out to homeless people in the streets.
This position offers you a window into issues of poverty and social
justice in a developing country and a chance to contribute directly,
day to day, to improving the quality of homeless people's lives.
The homeless shelter offers beds at night to a fairly stable population
of about 40 men, mostly in their 50s. In addition it has a dining
hall which is open from 10 am to 5 pm and serves lunch to about 130
people. The clients of the shelter have lost their homes due to different
factors - usually unemployment or family difficulties, sometimes psychological
issues are at work as well. Before they can enter the shelter they
are interviewed by the director and undergo a medical and psychological/social
The most important job for volunteers is simply listening to the men,
hearing their stories: helping to validate them as members of society.
In addition there is any number of practical tasks such as: making
beds, laundry, tidying up their rooms, helping the men with personal
hygiene, helping to cook and serve food, wash dishes. There is also
an important social service component which can involve accompanying
the men on visits to get their pensions, legal documents, to the doctor,
etc.; and for those men who have managed to rent their own room, visiting
them in their homes and helping them there.