The journey of Luciana Cappellini

  • Nationality: Italian

  • Volunteer from: November 2019 to February 2020

  • Place:  Butare’-Huye, Rwanda
  • Mission: Intiganda Center


“After 40 years of work as a Social Worker in Italy, having reached retirement, I was finally able to realize the desire for Cooperation and Volunteering that I have always wanted.

I contacted the La Salle Institute and considering my work experience and knowledge of French, they invited me to the Intiganda x bambini di Strada Center in Butare Rwanda; thanks to the patient and irreplaceable support of Eleonora Munaretto I left at the end of November 2019.

The Center hosts about 40-50 children from 6-18 years old and offers contributions for tuition, school materials and professional training to other 30-40 children living outside.

Supported by the staff of the Center I started to participate in practical activities: in the kitchen for the preparation of meals, help to the kids for washing laundry and hygiene, sewing and mending clothes, organization of walks, games, snacks outside the Center and helping communication within the school.

I have also often accompanied the youngest children (youth go alone) to the Health Centers and the local hospital.

These moments have allowed me to know more about the health reality of the country and especially to relate and become particularly fond of some children.

I was very impressed by the reality of many young people of the Center who at the age of 12-13 years old can not read or write, they almost never attended school, having lived most of their time on the streets. On the other hand, I have evaluated very positively the inclusion of older youth in local professional internships; this apprenticeship opens up concrete possible work activities for them.

My experience as a Social Worker has certainly helped me, but not least also my family life. For example, dialogue and empathy with mothers has certainly been fostered by the fact that I am also a mother.

I have had the opportunity to notice huge educational differences compared to our European countries.

In Africa they are much more demanding, stubborn and sometimes very rigid in their educational choices and possible transgressions.

I do not deny that at times I was confused about educational methods that seemed too strict and the daily meetings at the Center offered me the opportunity to talk about it.

My presence for only 3 months has certainly not changed the situation of the Intiganda Center, nor has it particularly affected the realities of the children hosted…..

I trust, however, that we will keep our memories and positive feelings for each other, that there will be openings towards other “diversities”, respecting different cultures and modalities.

The distance has made me rediscover and enhance my family affections and also the friendship ties that I have always shared with them through emails and images. My Friends have also started a fundraiser to support the Intiganda Center while I was there.

Now I am happily back in family life, but I am absolutely ready for other experiences, enrichment for me and indirectly for family and friends.

Finally, I am more and more convinced that there is NO AGE LIMIT for Volunteering, indeed I believe that with maturity such an experience can be faced with greater availability, wisdom and awareness.

I hope to come back.”


Luciana Cappellini

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