“Doing voluntary work helps you come out of your shell”

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David Mazaira, energy manager and super volunteer

David arrives, smiling and relaxed. He apologizes for the five-minute delay. It shows that he is accustomed to fulfilling his commitments. A little wary at first, we soon discover his soft Venezuelan accent, proof of the country where he was born, and his passion for energy, the same passion that he assures characterizes the good volunteer.

David began working as a volunteer at the Repsol Foundation in 2009 from his position as Process Engineer at the Puertollano Complex. Since then, he has worked in different programmes like Our City and Our Community, in which he participated on three occasions; the Junior Achievement programme focused on motivation in educational centres of Puertollano and Energy with Conscience from Campus Repsol in Madrid.

With him, we open our “Super Volunteers” series to get a closer look at employees who spend part of their time collaborating.

Why did you start doing voluntary work?

Doing voluntary work helps you come out of your shell, disconnect from your daily work and see what’s out there. When you arrive in a city like Puertollano and start working in the refinery, the most common thing is to interact only with your workmates. There are those who look for the same thing and sign up at the gym or to learn languages. I became a volunteer. In this way, I not only disconnected and got out of my circle of work, but also had the opportunity to help society and to get to know other realities.

Help society, how?

I have always thought that education is essential to improving the environment in which we live. Not only that, there are big problems we need to solve and we see them every day. All the programmes I have collaborated in work in education.

In addition, with Energy with Conscience I also offer the kids my knowledge about energy efficiency.

How do you talk to 8 year olds about energy efficiency?

The first thing we try to do is explain to them what energy is, giving them examples from their daily lives. They are surprised when you destroy myths and explain to them with practical exercises why all energies are necessary. Anyway, don’t imagine we explain it very differently from how we do with adults. In fact, my family and friends are always interested in the subject.

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Can you give us an example?

One very simple one; not everyone realizes that a hybrid car pollutes more than a natural gas bus. Why? Because while the car transports five people at most, the bus transports many more. It is a basic explanation but not always obvious.

What would you like to achieve with this programme?

I would like both the kids and the teachers to take home everything we try to convey to them in the sessions. Energy saving is essential for the future development of the planet. It will have been worth it if we manage to make us all more aware of our responsibility.

Upcoming projects?

I am looking forward to the next Energy with Conscience event. You do it one year and you see that the company foments it and promotes it and the feedback you receive is very positive. Then you want more. Moreover, the teachers, who are often constrained by the educational system, are grateful for programmes with a difference. It’s a way out of the rut for them too.

Do you remember any anecdotes?

I particularly remember going down the street in Puertollano and being greeted by the children. Moreover, I went to the same school for two years in a row. I had the same group and the children remembered. Knowing that what you have done has been worthwhile, that they remember things, that they remember you, is very gratifying.

What, in your opinion, are the qualities of a good volunteer?

Volunteering is not a fad. A volunteer has feel passionate about what he does, he has to like it. He also has to have the patience of a teacher and empathy to put himself in other people’s shoes, to understand their problems and not to listen to them when they are talking about them. Teachers and students often tell us about their concerns. This should not worry us and we must be willing to listen to them.

How would you convincea workmate to become a volunteer?

I would tell him to go ahead, that he will have the support of his boss and the company. I would also say that it is fun and that the Repsol Foundation offers a lot of support from the outset. Also, the kids, even the teenagers, are great. (laughs)

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Has your perspective on the compamny changed in any way since you became a volunteer?

For me it is an extra that the company I work in encourages volunteering and also prompts me to do it. When I started to do voluntary work, it seemed to me that Repsol’s commitment to society was a standard, something that is done because it is a legal obligation or because you compare yourself with the competition and you want to have a motive to sell more than the one next door. Then you realize that sustainability is produced by people and the people who are there really believe it.

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