The History of VE Global
Founded as Voluntarios de la Esperanza in 2004, VE Global has grown from a few volunteers living and working in La Florida’s Fundación Hogar Esperanza to an average on the ground community of 35 volunteers who work in 8 distinct children´s service organizations. Since its inception, VE Global has received more than 450 volunteers from 35 countries and five continents.
Volunteers began arriving at Hogar Esperanza in 1999. Seeing a profound mutual impact on the children and the volunteers, the home’s director, Jorge Daveggio, accepted volunteers from the United States, France, Germany, England, and Canada. Each socially conscious young adult brought his or her experiences, talents and love to Santiago and thus contributed to the home’s theme of esperanza, or hope, for its children. These volunteers initially found Hogar Esperanza through their own means, so there were gaps of time without a volunteer presence.
In September and October of 2003, however, several volunteers arrived with overlapping stays. With the larger group, the volunteers were able to better organize their work and even combine their efforts to initiate larger projects. As the director lacked time and English language ability, one of the new arrivals took charge of volunteer recruiting in order to maintain a more constant influx of valuable international help. Utilizing the internet, Luke Winston discovered a surprisingly large interest from foreign volunteers to work in children’s service organizations, an interest much larger than Hogar Esperanza itself could support.
VE received its first volunteers, Jen Hendlisz and Ilana Osten, in 2004. These dedicated volunteers not only became part of the Hogar Esperanza family, but created a support base for subsequent volunteers. Winston, along with the founding group of Chilean volunteers known as “El Equipo,” guided and supported incoming volunteers and provided a continuous presence in an organization that was constantly changing with new volunteers from around the world.
Through his time as a volunteer, Luke recognized that several other children’s service organizations in Santiago had similar goals but much fewer resources. As a result of the disparity between these organizations, the idea of VE was born in the hope of using volunteers as a resource to bring equal opportunities to all children. In the world of social work, a foundation cannot be selfish; an excess resource should be shared whether it is food, money, or volunteer work. Therefore, VE searched for like-minded organizations that worked to form a family environment for the abandoned and abused children for which they cared.
VE Global provides a unique insider’s road to a life-changing volunteer experience because it was created by and is currently run by volunteers who have all worked in a children’s service organization. By working in a South American nation like Chile, the motivated young adults who compose this multi-national group of volunteers not only change the lives of the children they help but are themselves changed by an intense experience and new insights only an international adventure could provide. After their stay, volunteers remain a part of the new families they discover and return to their own countries to apply their new perspectives on life.