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#ParaEstarJuntos, an educational programme bringing teenagers and seniors together

The City of Buenos Aires Minister of Human Development and Housing, María Migliore, together with Scholas’ world director, José María del Corral, launched the international programme #ParaEstarJuntos [ToBeTogether] in the City of Buenos Aires. The programme targets elderly people living in the four Permanent Care Homes established in the City: the San Martín home, the Guillermo Rawson home, the Martín Rodríguez home and the Dr. Alejandro Raimondi home.

«For us, this programme is extremely important, because it allows us to accompany the elderly during this emergency and to connect them with the outside world. It is a window that brings them closer to their loved ones, to their emotions, to the exchange with the Scholas volunteers, to whom we are very grateful for their commitment. Also, this programme adds to our proposals so that the 650,000 senior citizens living in the city may achieve an active and productive ageing», said Minister Migliore, flanked by a group of teenagers and elderly people participating in the programme, connected through the virtual platform.

These spaces provide comprehensive assistance and companionship to the 1579 elderly residents who lack housing, health and social security coverage and/ or are socially vulnerable, often due to a lack of support.

«When what is learned is life, young people pass on the hope of their dreams to older adults, and the latter share the wisdom of their experiences,» said Professor Del Corral, world director of Scholas Occurrentes, during the celebration.

The programme «To be together» looks to alleviate the negative emotional and cognitive effects of isolation on elderly people by means of video calls between them and young Scholas volunteers around the world.

The pilot experience in the City of Buenos Aires took place in Hogar San Martín, and then continued in other care homes, such as Hogar Martín Rodríguez and Hogar Viamonte. The older adults had virtual meetings with young Scholas volunteers from countries as diverse as Honduras, Panama, the United States, Spain, Argentina, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

Magdalena (18), from La Plata, Argentina, shared: «I was happy to be able to have this contact. It is great because I don’t stop meeting new people even though I am at home.»

Very enthusiastically she shared that she and her new 73-year-old friend Valentino already have made plans for a future meeting: «It’s nice to have something there to look forward to when all this is over.”

Hilda is a resident at Hogar San Martín, and she said: «The experience was very nice. I loved it; it seemed to me that I was talking to friends, that at last someone was listening to us, to our concerns, our sadness and our joys.»

Carlos, who also lives in the same care home, commented: «We formed a little friendship […] This is a new experience for me, that we can communicate with other countries, with other people, with other latitudes […] To find out how they are going through this pandemic and how they are studying.» Over the course of the three weeks, Carlos spoke with teenagers Sergio from Madrid and Laydis from Panama.

Then he went on to add: «I thank all the children who participated in it because sometimes it is not easy for young children to communicate with old people like us; […] but, in this case, it was very positive and exciting at times. That’s why I want to thank everyone without leaving anybody out!»

Jorge (17) was another of the Scholas youth who spoke to Valentino from the United States: «The essence of what we are in Scholas is the human encounter, and that mystery is found wherever we are. With the adults, we found that mystery, that human encounter.»

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