BE THE hero of inclusion

Break barriers, build bridges

A short tale, a story of inclusion

Once upon a time, in a small island, five eager foreign volunteers arrived, willing to help and make a difference. They had traveled from distant lands, leaving behind their families, friends and homes to embrace the unknown. After a few days though, their excitement was going down as language barriers proved to be a strong obstacle: the volunteers struggled to communicate their thoughts and feelings, the locals seemed indifferent.

The main symbol of the island was a distinguished and important old wooden bridge, that was in the heart of the locals. That bridge was going to be a turning point for everyone.

One sunny afternoon, the volunteers went to the community center, where they were greeted by smiling faces and cheerful children. Charmed by the volunteers’ enthusiasm, the children shared pictures and drawings telling stories about the bridge and their town, inviting them to join in traditional games and dances.

The volunteers were enjoying so much this afternoon, since, with kids, the language barrier didn’t exist anymore. However, not everyone was ready to embrace this new chapter with open arms. The volunteers could see the skepticism in the parents’ eyes, and thought they’d never be accepted into the community.

In the evening, the sun went down and the rain showed off, turning into a tremendous storm bringing nothing but water and desperation. The storm ravaged the town, part of the bridge got struck by a lightning. Every single person standing at it was heart-broken. Their cherished bridge was hardly damaged and at risk of being swept away by the fury of the storm.

The community was feeling hopeless, like losing their own path for the future. In that difficult situation, the volunteers knew they had the chance to help the locals, to show resilience and support, to rebuild what was lost in the face of adversity. But how to do it? How to overcome the language barrier?

Confused and vulnerable, the volunteers looked at Henry, a kind-hearted kid who was always smiling. He looked back at the volunteers, those young foreign people willing to merge themselves with the local community and he got an idea.

Henry pulled his father by the jacket and started whispering something to him. Henry’s father got to his car and, after coming back, he approached the volunteers, offering them a hammer and a rope. When the sun hadn’t even risen yet, the volunteers knew what to do

And so, with tools in hand and a shared purpose in their hearts, the volunteers joined forces to fix the old, damaged bridge and to build a new one, between them and the locals. The turning point came when the locals arrived. Touched by the enthusiasm and determination of the foreign volunteers, tears of joy rolled down the cheeks of some of them. A man in a suit approached the oldest volunteer from behind, put his hand on her shoulder and gave her a firm handshake with a shy smile, introducing himself as the Mayor of the town and welcoming them officially. Something new was starting.

As the weeks went by, the volunteers and the locals worked shoulder to shoulder on a project to rebuild their bridge. Together, they transformed destruction into hope and broken wood structure into works of art. The bond between the volunteers, Henry and the locals grew stronger. The volunteers had not only helped to rebuild a physical space but had also forged friendships that mixed language and culture.

The now fixed bridge was the symbol of the power of unity, community and inclusion.

TEO

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