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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Sarah Chapman – Review


Why did you want to volunteer?

To help make a difference in another country with children in need. I only had a week to volunteer because of work commitments so the project fitted in nicely.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?

Yes you could see on the children’s faces how important our visits were to them. We also helped clear up lots of mud after the June floods which was hard work but equally as rewarding and the local people who had had their homes ruined were really thankful and provided us with a lunch.

What did you do for fun?

We all went around together in Varna and to the resorts of Saint constantine and st helena to spend time on the beach and eat in the hotel bars.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?

When we went to the shanty town to give out clothes and toys, we were all really shocked to see where some of the children we were working with were living. Many of the houses were in bad condition with rubbish lying all around outside, it was upsetting but at least we knew we were helping in a small way.

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

Yes if there is another one like Bulgaria. I have heard some good things about Morocco so might try that one next.

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?

It will be the best experience of your life if you haven’t done anything like this before!

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?

Toys for the children and balls, skipping ropes and building bricks for the younger ones.

How much money would you suggest you take per week?

£40 should be enough. You don’t need more than that if you only stay at the volunteer house and go to projects each day.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?

Come with an open heart and try to connect with the kids. This is a very special project and there is a real feeling here for it to be a success!

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Kate Driver – Review


Why did you want to volunteer?
The Original Volunteers programme suited my budget and I wanted to see if I could teach as I would like to do some more teaching projects in the future. My friends had done the same programme and said that learning how to teach was really useful.

What did you do for fun?
Went into town in the evenings and Phuket for my last weekend , swam, visited the islands, went to a few beach parties.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
The most memorable was arriving at the school for the first day and walking into the teacher’s room to a room full of smiling Thai teachers.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
I am not sure I would do this one again because I think I have seen and done everything I wanted to here. I might consider another project in Africa and do some more teaching.

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?
If you want to learn how to teach and have some incredible memories then Thailand is a good project to start with.

How much money would you suggest you take per week?
£20 per week is enough when you are at your school. I did quite a lot of trips and tours and spent £300 in total.

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Jules Bradford – Review


I arrived in Paraguay after two months travelling around Bolivia, Argentina and Peru and staying in hostels. I chose the project because I wanted to stay in one place and soak up the local life. It was also a more affordable option to live with a family than in a hotel and easier to meet local people.

During my stay I helped with the animals, collected the eggs in the morning, learnt how to prepare the ox for work in the fields and taught a few maths classes at the local school.

The family were great, no complaints at all and I got invited to nearly every event that was going on in the community. The family also arranged a bbq for my last Sunday which probably cost them a fortune as it was whole cow! I did offer some money towards it of course, but I still felt humbled by the experience.

I think anyone who is looking for a real experience of life in another country this is the type of project to do!

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Emma Taylor – Review


Why did you want to volunteer?
I wanted to make friends and travel at the same time. A lot of my friends had already done projects or similar things before and recommended volunteering.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Yes every day, the kids have nothing and get abuse all the time at home, it’s really tough for them. I think they loved our visits and I really felt for them as some were so dirty. I bought some wetwipes and took them each day and they loved getting some attention when I wiped their hands and faces. That was quite moving.

What did you do for fun?
We went to bars near the volunteer flat. There’s a really good night life in the Buenos Ares and a lot to do at night. Because you work in the afternoon it’s easy to sleep and be ready again. We also did the famous Buenos Ares pub crawl which was a lot of fun.

What was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
At the time I was there they did a trip to the north to see an Indian village and make donations. That was really interesting and totally different to the city.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
With other volunteers from all over the world, mostly America and also with other young people we met in the evenings.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
Not sure Argentina again, but definitely Peru and see more of Brazil.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
Clothes for the evening but take a coat too if you’re going between seasons. I got caught out but got away with it in May.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Check the weather before you go as I was there in May and it was their Autumn so you need a winter coat, but it was warmer at the indian village because you’re further north.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas