From Peru to the South of France, Alicia Vargas dedicates her life to helping others and sharing her knowledge to build a better world.
By Mathieu Obringer, Second Chance ESC Volunteer.
« I need to feel that I am helping something or someone.” This is what Alicia says when asked what motivates her to
work in climate and non-formal education. At 32, this Peruvian native has always dedicated her life to others. « I did
my first volunteer mission when I was 12 years old. » First, she dedicated her time to helping children with disabilities in her country for two years. Alicia taught them English and also accompanied them during their medical appointments.
However, the living conditions of some of these kids were too much for her to handle, despite the fact that she was already improving their daily lives. « So I decided it was time to change the sector. » For all that, she doesn’t let go of her devotion to others, « I still need to feel like I’m helping someone or something. »
From childhood to climate Alicia first traveled to the south of France, in Lastours, in 2018 for two weeks to attend a social media and communication training thanks to the Erasmus project COMnGO. She became friends with Brigitte, the director of the volunteering projects at the campsite « Le Belvédère », who asked her to stay and help her in her mission dedicated to climate and zero waste. She went back a first time the following year for six months. Then, a second time in 2020, where the health context led her to stay. This opportunity was a chance for her who got used to a minimalist lifestyle for several years.
« I think this place is perfect for me because in a personal way, I can develop my passion about the environment, being simple and sharing it with the others. » By now, everyone is aware of the climate emergency and the need to transition to a more responsible lifestyle « but how many put this into practice?“ For her, change comes mainly through sharing and non-formal education: « It’s important to have a collective change so we can put pressure on the authorities. But I also think that in order to reach a collective of change and power, we have to start by ourselves ». An idea shared with another, then applied and re-shared by that other, can, according to Alicia, reach that informed and powerful collective.
As she says : “Education is the most powerful tool for the world to change.” It is precisely the sharing that drives her to undertake in this field, especially when she finds common points with people from all over the world with different backgrounds. People with opposite points of view do not make her lose her motivation. « If we are passionate about something, focused on doing the right things for our lives and the others, a common good, we still have to share it. »
The next volunteer project in Lastours, « Second Chance », which she will supervise, begins in a few days. Still related to ecology, it will be carried out by young people from France, Italy, Greece and Denmark. « I am motivated and nervous, trying to prepare myself, to prepare everything so we can provide the best that we can. » Alicia intends to create debates so that young people can exchange and become more sensitive to climate issues. « I think this is important to talk about these topics, about the human impact on nature, the waste, the energy, the resources, health and specially resilience and freedom and recovering our power.”