Lauren Webster – Paraguay


Why did you want to volunteer?
To make a difference and learn about another culture.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Yes. I helped plant some peppers and helped the neighbour’s children with their maths homework.

What did you do for fun?
Went into Asuncion at the weekends and the iguassu falls.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
It’s impossible to say one thing, there were lots of good times with the family, living with them every day was the most enjoyable time, I didn’t feel the need to go anywhere.Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
The family were my best friends and they were really sad to see me go, they almost begged me to stay but I couldn’t change my flight ticket.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers? 

Yes I think I would do another one.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Take everything you could possibly need and follow any list you get. It can get very cold in July so if you are visiting take lots of warm clothes and a good sleeping bag as they are hard to find in Paraguay or don’t work very well as I discovered in my second week after looking forward to shopping for a warm one, then hugely disappointed. Everything you bring from home is the very best luxury and you wish you brought more of all the essentials with you because at least THEY WORK.

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Brooke Simmons – Review


What members of staff do you remember the most and why?
I remember Maria she took us on lots of walks around the island and introduced us to local people we met.

Why did you want to volunteer?
Because I did not want to travel around on my own and I read reviews of other single people making lots of friends on their volunteer projects.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Yes I think so.

What did you do for fun?
I enjoyed the fundraiser we organised.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
We organised a swimming aerobics session with the local children in the sea which was a lot of fun.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
I made friends with a couple of volunteers and we travelled afterwards for a couple of weeks. That was unexpected and added to my trip.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
Yes because volunteering is not like a normal holiday or travelling around. I definitely enjoyed my volunteering more than my travelling around even though both were fun!

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
Take good shoes for the swamps, I only had sandals and they got ruined so I had to buy another pair.

How much money would you suggest you take per week?
£100 – £150 as the island can be quite pricey because of the tourists and there are a lot of good bars to east at.

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Samuel Harris – Review


Why did you want to volunteer?
I wanted to visit Europe and do some volunteering at the same time. Some of my friends had been to Romania and Bulgaria and recommended the area.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Yes the children loved our visits and I nearly cried every time we arrived at the shanty town when everyone came out to meet us and walk with us up the hill. It was really special.

What did you do for fun?
Went into Varna centre to the main street to the bars and cafes. Our group’s favourite was Happy grill, massive menu!

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
Swimming in the evening, the sea was so warm.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
Yes I want to go back to Bulgaria and meet everyone again, it was the best time of my life so far!!!! Everyone has to do it!

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
Take outdoor games for the children as there is often not enough to go round.

How much money would you suggest you take per week?
£50 – £70 is enough. The kayak was £25.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
It’s a good one to start with if you are unsure or nervous. The staff are so friendly and will help you with anything you need.

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Sally Collingwood – Review


Why did you want to volunteer?
To help the children in Thailand. I always wanted to teach too as I would like to be a teacher at some point later on.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Yes because we can show the children how to speak good English and help them with their exams.

What did you do for fun?
We chatted in our hostel in the evenings and went to a local bar. We also planned the next day’s lessons and helped each other with ideas which was great fun.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
The best weekend was when I went to Phuket and took a boat to the phi phi islands where the beach film was made. It was crazy scenery and busy but a truly magical place. You need to go early though before the crowds get there.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
I would have liked to go to the Cambodia project but didn’t have time on this trip and ran out of money!

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?
I think Thailand is a good project to start with if you have not been to Asia before as everything is so well organised. Many of us had never travelled before away from home and we al found it really straightforward.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
You need smartish clothes for the classroom, you can’t wear shorts or anything too revealing or you won’t be able to teach. I was okay in a skirt and plain t-shirt.

How much money would you suggest you take per week?
You need very little unless you’re going to do the touristy stuff. I took £300 for two weeks which was plenty, Thailand is very cheap.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Smile in the classroom and make eye contact with the children, it’s surprising how easy it is and it helps you stop being nervous.

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Craig Russell – Review


Why did you want to volunteer?
I just finished my degree and wanted a break before work.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Some of the projects don’t have as many staff as at home so I think we helped just by being there.

What did you do for fun?
Trekking and the otovalo market, although it’s a bit touristy and you can get the same stuff for less in Quito the atmosphere at Otovalo was special and made a nice day out.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
For me day one was the best experience, just taking your new surroundings in and so many different experiences and new friends in 24 hours.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
I made friends with one of the staff at a nursery I was working at. They invited me to a family party which was great fun.

What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise, why was this?
There were too many bars and cafes to mention – there wasn’t one in particular and there was a good crowd of foreigners and backpackers around to make friends with aswell.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
I wanted to fit in Peru this time but my budget wouldn’t stretch, maybe next year.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
A jumper and waterproof jacket as it can get colder in the evenings and it does rain a bit sometimes.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Make friends with local people and invite yourself, they are all so friendly but you can’t be reserved. That way you get more out of the experience.

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Lisa Kerridge – Review


Why did you want to volunteer?
To help others and gain a valuable experience.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Yes I think I made a difference although I was only there for one week.

What did you do for fun?
Hung out at the volunteer house and eating at the Happy diner in Varna.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
My first day at the romany project, the children were so happy to see us when we walked in. They loved what we did with them, colouring, painting and playing with them outside.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
Everyone was so lovely and I made friends easily because we were all there for the same reasons.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers? Please explain why.
Yes I want to go back to Bulgaria as the place was so friendly and I felt comfortable all the time.

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?
I have told all my friends about my time in Bulgaria.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Go for it!

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Michael Harris – Review


I had the most amazing time on Utila and got my diving certificate whilst I was there.

Everyone was friendly and you make friends really easily. The accommodation was basic but generally what you would expect at an animal sanctuary. I loved the iguanas and I do think some had a little personality of their own.

I went snorkelling a few times and back to the mainland to La Ceiba a couple of times to see more there.

Overall I has the best experience and would recommend it to anyone, it’s a great project in a great location and it’s not expensive either.

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Alex Welch – Review


I would just like to say a big thank you for Giorgi, Giorgi and Dafinka for such a lovely time and so many happy memories. The programme surpassed my expectations and I would have happily paid a lot more for the experiences I had in Varna.

The children were adorable and the visits to eko park were really special.

Thank you again and I will be in touch soon to arrange my next visit which will probably be Bulgaria!

Best egards,

Alex

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Dion Walsh – Review


I would just like to say thank you for the most incredible trip. It was a great experience form start to finish and I would not have changed a thing!

The local team were great and I could not believe how easy it was to teach as the children made it so easy and were fantastic.

I also got a lot of support from the teachers who were wonderfully friendly and helped explain everything to the children if they didn’t understand what I wanted them to do.

Overall fantastic value and the best memories!

Dion

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Vero Musitano – Review


I spent 4 weeks in Paraguay living with the family and overall I would say it was a life changing experience.

It made me stronger as a person and more able to handle things on my own. The family were wonderfully friendly, far more than I had expected and went out of their way to help me. They even offered me their only electric heater to warm my room up at night!

I spent the first 2 weeks just hanging out with the family and trying to practise my Spanish, my parents speak Spanish but never with me so it was a good way to finally learn some! Then week three I started teaching some english to the neighbour’s children which was new to me. I did the alphabet and some other basic phrases and they learnt really quickly and seemed to enjoy my visits. I would recommend planning some things and getting some materials before you come out as internet is problematic and does not always work in town when the electricity goes off and it’s just easier to have everything already in your bag.

I did a weekend at the falls on the brazilian border. I did both sides and would recommend the brazilian side if I had to choose one! You can go up to the bottom with a speedboat but my budget unfortunately didn’t stretch to extras.

If anyone wants to really get into south american culture and live like a local, this is deinfitely the project to choose!

Lots of love and luck to everyone!

Veronika M

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Niamh Powell – Review


Why did you want to volunteer?
I wanted to work in a community project where you can teach more freely and try out different things. I am a teacher at home so wanted to see how different it would be and maybe use something back home and use something from home in Argentina to improve my teaching in both places.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Yes I think so, although I was only there for a couple of weeks, I think the children gained from the activities we had organised.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
Maybe funds and time permitting!

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?
Volunteering gives you a completely different perspective and the children don’t have to go to a community centre so you need to go the extra mile or they won’t come the next day. But that was great fun because you knew if they came each day they liked what you were doing. You don’t get that feedback from your class at home.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
An activity in your bag ready every day. Some volunteers had nothing to use when the children finished their work or games early so it’s good to grab something.

How much money would you suggest you take per week?
Buenos Aires is not that cheap compared to other countries. I spent £150 but you might be able to spend less, it depends whether you go out in the evenings. If you cook in the apartment you’ll save a lot more.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Make the most of the hours you spend with the children as it is so special to them. At home you don’t know what they are going through.

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Katie Perrod – Review


I chose Mexico because it was always on my list of places to visit and my friends had already done a tour there and recommended it. It took a few months to organise with the help of my friends and family I managed to fundraise and got the whole trip within a tight £1000 budget, flights included.

On arrival in Merida the coordinator’s driver met me at the airport and transferred me to the volunteer house where I met the other volunteers. One of the girls I knew already from Facebook which was reassuring.

The next day the coordinator showed me around the local shops and where to get things and in the afternoon I went on the bus to my first project at the Antonio school. The children were lovely and seemed to enjoy their English lessons even if they were a bit noisy at times. There were a couple of their own teachers who helped too.

In the evenings we sat around at the volunteer house chatting and listening to music and at the weekends we made some trips in the local area. My best memory was swimming in the cenotes which are like underground cave swimming pools, they were amazing.

Would I go back?

Yes to see the progress with the teaching project and to swim in the cenotes again!

Katie
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