A documentary that tells the story of a world where volunteerism has ceased to exist

“In my opinion, the reasons were the lack of communication and the fact that we felt alone. We got used to talking, asking for help, we closed ourselves in a room with mobile phones, with computers, we no longer ask the other “how are you?”, “what do you think?”. We thought we could continue on our own, so volunteering disappeared.” The voice-over that accompanies the images opens a round of interviews with volunteers who have devoted part of their time to helping others through the activities of their associations over the years. But now even the last voluntary association has closed forever. It was the only one left in Italy. He survived in Bari until ten years ago. But now it’s all over. Puglia and all of Italy were left without volunteers, without this pivotal figure between the needs and problems of the most vulnerable people and the rest of the community, institutions, possible interventions that can be taken to improve the quality of life of those who find themselves in trouble.

Documentary film “Where I’ve Been Before” it opens up an important question and above all creates an atmosphere of tension about what the future of our territories could be. Because the director’s work Mauro Maugeri tells of a dystopian tomorrow in which volunteering has ceased to exist, and tries to understand how society would respond to such a disappearance, leading to a series of reflections on the role of the Third Sector. They make time, skills, passions available to embed it in the daily lives of people who benefit from it in terms of intervention and those who give freely to others, to the environment, to culture, to animals. In order to carry out this work, the director imagined going back to the capital of Puglia and tracking down some volunteers to talk to them.

The narrative with the faces and voices of the interviewed volunteers is characterized by three key moments: causes, stories, visions with unpublished archival images that tell of what they did, their activities available to the weakest. The faces and voices of the interviewees communicate a lot. Suffering, discomfort, anger at not being able to save volunteerism, for being abandoned, for having capitulated and left everything in pursuit of his work, his time, his aspirations. “Don’t think that volunteering is a lost home,” says a volunteer, followed by the words of another young worker: “We must bear witness to what was, precisely through the testimony of each of us, new generations can understand. the beauty of what we experienced.”

Documentary film “Where I’ve Been Before” CSV San Nicola was created as part of the “Cultural Genres” project to “make people understand the important role that volunteering has in our Apulian territories and throughout Italy”, he explains Rosa Franco, president of the San Nicola Volunteer Service Center. «We often need to provoke, urge, because the volunteers are still the same, there is no generational change between them. With this documentary we want to bring people closer to the consequences and damage we would suffer if volunteering disappeared». According to Istat data from last year, there are over 4.5 million volunteers in Italy who care for others for free. Numbers that seem far removed from the dystopian story of the documentary, but will not leave anyone calm.

“What is missing is not sensitivity, but reality volunteering is more fluid than in the past, more hit and run and young people in particular do not easily join associations already established or founded by them,” he adds Candid. “Belonging to something, even a more structured organization that requires time and availability, is seen as a responsibility, as something demanding”. So the problem is much deeper and requires special analysis. “There is a problem at all levels, even in volunteering, in experiencing relationships and feeling that the other person is a part of me. This is an educational problem that does not only concern the family that has taken over verbal communication. It’s hard, belonging doesn’t feel like it used to. Instead, we are born as relationships, but today that consciousness no longer exists.’

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