This is our first time interviewing a volunteer who would love to share his sacred moments during the mission. We hope that by having this sharing, we can encourage more people to participate in volunteering jobs and to get to know more about being a volunteer.
Fábio went to West Africa (Benin) for 4 months. His native language is Portuguese, but for a better understanding, he will have this interview in English.
Fábio去了西非的貝寧 (Benin) 已四個月，雖然他的母語是葡語，但為方便大家了解內容，他將以英語接受專訪。
Z：Can you describe about yourself? Can you tell us about your real origin and a little of your background? How do you consider yourself? As a Macanese, Portuguese or Brazilian?
F：My name is Fábio. I was born in Rio de Janeiro and was brought up in Macau. My ancestors are Macanese, Portuguese and Brazilian. I consider myself a mix of Macanese and Latino.
Z：Can you tell us when did you start volunteering in Macau? Which are the associations you have volunteered before?
F：In 2005, I started the volunteering work in Macau. The associations I had worked before were: Macau Red Cross and Macau Deaf Association. Besides that, I am also a member of ANIMA (Society for the Animal Protection).
Z：Did you decide to volunteer by yourself or someone persuaded you to volunteer?
F：I decided to volunteer myself. I consider being a volunteer as a life style. It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Z：How would you describe Macau’s volunteer job in Macau? Is there any more room for improvement? Can you give some suggestions?
你會怎麼形容澳門的義工工作? 有沒有進步空間? 何否提出一些建議?
F：Macau’s volunteer job is doing well. In any area, there is always room for improvement. There are many programs running in Macau that are organized by associations, companies, government, etc. One of my suggestions is to create a website that lists all the volunteer activities / opportunities in Macau. The organizer can provide relevant information for the volunteer to apply via online. The website can create a platform for the organization and the volunteer.
Z：You went to Benin through Mercy Ship, can you tell us how did you know about Mercy Ship? Did you need to take any tests or exams to apply for the volunteering job? How do they select the Country you should go? Can you tell us what kind of post they have in particular?
我們得知你是透過Mercy Ship去貝寧 (Benin) 的，可否告訴我們你怎樣認知有關Mercy Ship? 報名後是否需要接受任何的測試? 是怎樣選擇去某一國家工作? 在船上有甚麼特定的職位?
F：I heard about Mercy Ships from a Korean friend, Sooyeon Kim. After that, I started to research about the organization. I decided to apply (fill the forms, the position, letter of references, medical report) and they accepted me to serve from September 2009 to January 2010. In my position (Motorman in engineering department), I was necessary to be certified in Basic Safety Training (BST) under the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers (STCW 95).There were several positions to apply, such as: Doctor, Nurse, Engineers, Mechanic, Electrician, Housekeeping, Teacher, Baker, Cook, Dentist, IT Technician, Human Resources, Finance, Seller, Photographer, Writer and much more. In fact, everyone can be a volunteer. At this moment, they have one ship named Africa Mercy, which serves the West Africa Countries. There are several issues to be considered before choosing a country, which I do not know very well (it involves the government of the country, the stability for the volunteer and port of the ship, etc.). Normally, once it is decided, Africa Mercy stayed in the port of a West Africa Country for 10 Months (From September of current year to June of next year).
Mercy Ship是由一位叫Sooyeon Kim的韓國朋友介紹, 之後我開始查詢有關Mercy Ship的資料並決定申請( 填寫報名、職位、介紹信函、醫療報告等等)。他們接受了我的報名，因此由2009年9月至2010年1月就去了當義工。我的工作是工程部的Motorman，我需要考取Basic Safety Training (BST) under the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers (STCW 95) 的認證。當然，當時還有很多職位可供申請，包括醫生、護士、工程師、機械師、電工、管家、教師、麵包師傅、廚師、牙醫、電腦機工、人事、財務、銷售人員、攝影師、作家等等。
其實每個人都能當義工。現時有一艘船是Africa Mercy，專門幫助西非國家。之於他們選擇幫忙哪些國家，我想是有一些因素需考慮，但我不太確定，估計會是當地政府、義工工作的安全性及停船口岸等。一般來說，當決定停留某一地方，Africa Mercy會在該西非國家的港口停留10個月 (由本年度9月至下年7月)。
Z：I know you have a permanent job, but how did you persuade your boss to let you work there for 4 months?
F：Usually in North European Countries encourage the volunteer work. For instance, there are some countries that minimize the taxes of those who volunteer for organization like Mercy Ships. However, in Asia, it is a different story. I applied for non-pay leave but it was not an easy process. They analyzed the documentation and observed the possibility of win-win situation (it would benefit the company on my professional background and also for the society I serve). Then, they allowed my application for non-pay leave.
不少北歐國家會鼓勵員工做義工工作，例如參與Mercy Ship的義工工作者可減低稅率。可惜，在亞洲的情況完全不同。當時我申請的是停薪留職，但過程相當困難。公司審核了我所提交的資料，而且還考慮是否可達致雙羸 (對公司和社會均獲益)，慶幸最終公司批准了我的停薪留職申請。
Z：How was your job in the Ship? Can you tell us some memorable experiences?
F：My mission was to contribute my engineering skills, knowledge and understanding to smoothen the operations of the global charity hospital ships. Specifically, my duties and responsibilities included daily operations and maintenance as both Motorman and Engine Hand . I saw poverty, suffering and sickness. On the other hand, I experienced joy and hope in many of the people I met. Yes, I had many unforgettable encounters. For example, one of the most memorable experiences was playing football with many poor children from Benin in Western Africa. Looking back, it was definitely one of the happiest soccer games I have ever experienced.
我的任務是運用我的工程知識和技術來協助這艘全球慈善醫療船上的運作，具體來說，我的工作是每日操作和保養的Motorman (即 “睇住” 機械操作)及Engine Hand (負責檢查、保養、清潔和監測)。透過這經歷，我看到貧窮、痛苦和疾病，但從另一個角度，我從遇到的人中感受到快樂和希望，我曾有不少難忘的回憶，例如， 我最難忘的一次是與貝寧 (Benin) 當地貧窮的小孩踢足球，回想起來，那場足球賽肯定是我人生中最開心的其中一場。
Z：Were you the only one from Macau? Since the volunteers were from all different countries, did you have any difficulty to communicate or to cooperate with others?
F：In those 4 Months, I was the only one from Macau. However, I met there a baker who was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Canada. So we had the chance to speak a little in Cantonese and share some histories back home. The official language of the Ship is English. In general, everyone would speak English (at work, in Community, etc). So, there was no problem in communication.
在4個月中，我是唯一來自澳門的，當時也有一位麵包師傅是在香港出生加拿大長大，所以我們可以說一點廣東話及分享一些家鄉的故事。在船上 “官方” 語言是英語，所以，大家一般都會說英語 (不論是工作或在鄉鎮內)，在溝通上沒有太大的困難。
Z：Regarding your personality in general, what have you changed after this sacred mission?
F：I learned a lesson for life being in Benin during 4 months. I grew up both humanly and spiritually. Learning to overcome difficulties with greater optimism, or simply, with more faith and hope. I give more value to life by discovering the real meaning of happiness.
在貝寧 (Benin) 的4個月內，我學習了人生的一課，無論在知識能力或心靈上都長大了。我學會如何更為樂觀 (或簡地說更大的信心和希望) 地克服困難，我更珍惜生命也同時更了解生命的意義。
Z：Since you don’t have any income during this time, can you tell us what the main mind-sets are when someone decides to work for 4 months as a volunteer?
F：It is about passion and the desire to do something different, meaningful, going out from routines and specially the heart to contribute for a better world. When we have those motivations in heart, God will open the door, and the difficulties will be overcome.
Z：At the end, how would you persuade or encourage someone in Macau to do more volunteer work？
Are you looking for adventure or love or happiness or joy or peace or harmony or success or achievements or life experience for contributing for a better world and better Macau or just of a little of everything？Just be a volunteer, your life will never be the same. Let’s do it!
Afterwords: Among our friends, Fábio is just like an angel. Hope that his experience can influence others to follow his volunteer work, and to care more about the underprivileged group.