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.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas

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!

Read more about our: Volunteers in Europe

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.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Asian case studies

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!

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas

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

Alexandra Middleton – Review


Why did you want to volunteer?
I wanted to travel on my own without being on my own, I knew when I got there I wouldn’t be the only volunteer as I had met a couple of girls on the buddy list.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
I definitely felt we made a difference at the soup kitchen charity, the children were lovely.

What did you do for fun?
We visited the mayan ruins, the beach and Cancun for a long weekend, which was amazing. We also spent the evenings in town in music cafes and walking around, it’s so hot at night, it was nice to be out.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
The best trip was to the beach, the sand was so white and sea temperature incredible.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
I think I made friends with everyone! Everyone was there for the same reason, to do something worthwhile and put something back whilst at the same time having a great time and exploring a new country.

What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise, why was this?
The volunteer house! It was very sociable and the pool was great!

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
Yes I’d like to try something new. I probably would choose original volunteers, because they match my budget better than some of the other organisations.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
LOTS of summer clothes as you will get through loads in the hot weather.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Make sure you try everything and do the best you can, it wasn’t difficult and the more you put in the more you get out of the experience!

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas

Abigail Popple – Review


Do you feel you made a difference, how?

Yes, we cleaned the stables, observed the mustangs for any problems, helped with the vet visits and prepared the food for the horses.

What did you do for fun?

Went to most of the local attractions, the space centre was for me the best.

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

Working so close to the horses and seeing how they interact with people and like human company. The lady who runs the sanctuary can actually speak to the horses which was inspiring.

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

Yes I would love to do another project and stay for longer next time as I don’t think 2 weeks was quite long enough, for me anyway.

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

Just do it. You’re not on your own as there are lots of other people doing the same thing and everyone is going through the same thing. When you get there it sounds like a cliche but it does feel like home because everyone lives and works together, unlike hotels where it’s hard to make friends. I am still in touch with everyone who was there with me.

How much money would you suggest you take per week?

You don’t need any if you stay at the sanctuary, it’s just when you do the attractions you’ll need about £120 a day for transport and the tickets for each one which can be expensive but most volunteers when I was there did at least one of the parks.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas

Claudia Allen – Review


Why did you want to volunteer?

To experience another culture and help others.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?

Yes I think we made a difference in the short time we were there. We painted, fixed some windows and laid a cement floor. We also walked the children home after school and helped them with their maths.

What did you do for fun?

The volunteer bar in the evenings, especially when new volunteers had arrived that day.

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

Building work, it was something I had never done before.

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

Yes but probably I would like to try another country next time.

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

Just go for it, you get so much out of it more than you think you will. I learnt so much during my stay I will never forget.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?

Strong shoes for walking around the local area, flip flops will just break on the hills.

How much money would you suggest you take per week?

£50 – £60 should be enough.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?

The children love cuddles!

Read more about our: Volunteers in African Case Studies

Laura Hawes – Review


Why did you want to volunteer?

To make a difference in a poor community.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?

Yes by teaching the children and showing an interest in their lives, many of them had very little and one family still lived on a dirt floor even when it was cold at night! It was very upsetting and I got the family to help me buy a mattress from the local town which we brough back on the bus and some blankets which they really appreciated. They weren’t expensive and they made a big difference.

What did you do for fun?

The best free time trip I made during my stay was to the Iguazu Falls on the border.

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

Yes I would like to visit Paraguay in a few years but just to see how the family are.

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

This sort of project is not for everyone as you may be the only volunteer there, but for me that was the most enjoyable part because the experience was all mine!

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?

Definitely you need a warm sleeping bag and really warm clothes if you go in july as it was freeeeezing at night! But we after a freezing morning on some days we went swimming in the stream and it seemed really hot, there was some vert strange weather!

How much money would you suggest you take per week?

£30 would be more than enough and often the family offer you free meals so it’s hard to spend your money quickly. There was only one shop nearby and that only sold cokes and crisps so you can save a lot of money if you stay with the family.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas

Ffion Brooks – Review


Hi guys, here’s my review as requested…

Why did you want to volunteer?
The most amazing thing? Making friends with the children in the shanty and giving them lots of support. Some really need it and come in a terrible state each day.

Best memory?
The birthday party we organised and seeing the children’s faces.

Best bits about free time?
The beach at Mar del Plata. I was lucky to be in Argentina during their summer and took full advantage.

Tell us about the people
The Argentinians love the English although that isn’t what people told me before I went. They love to practise their English on you, we were never without company on our nights out.

Would you consider volunteering again and where?
Yes. I would like to go to Peru as I had no time on this trip.

Tips for future volunteers?
Bring some ideas or you will run out after a few days.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas

Saira Khan – Review


Why did you want to volunteer?
I am studying for a PGCE and thought it would be a good idea to get some teaching practice in a classroom.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Yes, at the girl’s home in particular there was a girl I got close to who was having problems at school and I was able to help her with some basic maths.

What did you do for fun?
Went to the ruins at chichen itza which was amazing. Not like anything I’ve seen before. It was super hot.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
The children were adorable and so friendly when we arrived each day. They really looked forward to us coming. I took some colouring pencils and glitter pens which were appreciated which was nice.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
With the other volunteers you can’t not make friends. I am still close with a couple and we meet up every so often.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
I want to visit Africa but not sure about the jabs and everything I would need to organise for a trip like that, Mexico was easy to organise, I did everything in a week.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
Insect repellent – I used lots.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Try a few projects before deciding which one you want to do. Although I chose Mexico to teach, spending time at the girls home was a real unexpected surprise so I went a few times during my time there.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas