03 July 2015
Category : Interview
Cooperation: “All changes start with something simple”
Student Kelly Ramos tells of her experience in cooperation advising fellow Bolivians on tax issues.Student Kelly Ramos tells of her experience in cooperation advising fellow Bolivians on tax issues.
Sometimes, life sends you opportunities and it’s up to you as the individual to decide whether to seize them and take on the responsibility or not. One such opportunity that came my way was the NAF*. Who’d have thought that I could be part of something new? Perhaps no one. In the beginning, maybe we were a little intimidated by the recruitment process, where many fell by the way side. But were we lucky? Hmmm, I don’t think so. Well perhaps in my case, but more than luck, it was a question of perseverance, studying hard and, above all, feeling the need to be part of something.
They say that it’s not easy to start something new, of course it’s not. Particularly when you are not used to interacting with others. I don’t mean that I’m someone who doesn’t socialise with other people, but this is very different to just talking to your friends, because your friends know you and if you make a mistake they will let you know, with a little ribbing and mockery along the way. But trying to interact with taxpayers was horrible in the beginning! My legs were shaking! I would think “What if I make a mistake? What will I do? Should I just go? I know, it’s a little immature for someone of my age and especially for someone in their final year at university, but I was scared. And then the first taxpayer arrived. She was a very nice dark haired lady, a real delight, and it was then that I understood how unjustified my fear had been, because not all taxpayers are ogres (no offence intended).
Then it was our turn to do a “tax fair” for the inauguration of NAF. We had to set up the marquee the night before the fair. What a drag! But it was for our own benefit so off to work we went. We learned two things that day: firstly, that putting up a marquee is not a simple thing to do, and secondly, that working on a fair requires team work. On the following day all the members of NAF were really nervous and very tired, of course, but it was worth the effort because the fair went ahead without a hitch. Dozens of people stopped to see the stand and others to ask for information or for the NAF opening hours. In short, it was an immense satisfaction to all of us. Finally, NAF open the doors to its first office in Bolivia, in the city of El Alto. What joy! Our hard work was paying off.
In our office at last! Well, the office that the university has loaned us, but it was just as though it was our very own. We had to put into practice everything that we had learned up to this point. In the beginning we had days where we only saw a handful of taxpayers and other days were we saw no one at all. Is that frustrating? Well yes it is, very. Even though we saw approximately 100 different taxpayers in our first month, we thought that this was not good enough and that we needed to be more efficient. Personally, I felt disappointed in myself.
But now we know that 100 is a good number to start with and that we shouldn’t feel frustrated or disappointed because we are giving our best every day. We are a new service, people still don’t know about us, but over time everyone will be talking about NAF.
I don’t want to change the world, the country or even this city alone, I want to change and help that person that comes to NAF for help, because by helping that person, he or she will go on to help another, and he or she will go on to help another, and by doing so, together we can make the world a better place to live. Someone once said that all changes starts with something simple.
My time at NAF is now drawing to an end; the time has flown by. I would love to stay longer but I need to make way for new people.
We aren’t geniuses here and we make mistakes just like anyone else, but whilst we are helping people who need assistance with their accounting and tax affairs, we will always be part of NAF.
*About NAF: Tax Support Centres, better known as NAFs, are part of a university social responsibility initiative promoted by the Brazilian Tax Administration, (Receita Federal).Through NAFs, students studying accounting and finance degrees who have received the necessary training from the tax administration can offer a free advisory service to low income individuals and entities in relation to basic tax issues. NAFs are available at 50 universities in Brazil, and with the backing of EUROsociAL, an EU cooperation programme, they have now been extended to 66 universities in Latin America: Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia & Guatemala
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