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

Shannon King – Review

Why did you want to volunteer?
I wanted to include some volunteering as part of my trip around South America and liked the look of the programme on the website. I wanted something which wasn’t too touristy and a chance to learn Spanish for the rest of my trip.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
I’m not sure how much difference I made as I was only there for two weeks but I think the children liked the activities I organised that they’ll remember.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
Learned Spanish with some other volunteers and travellers. That was a really good way to meet other people who were working elsewhere and travelling.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
The others on my Spanish course.

What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise, why was this?
There was a small cafe near my hostel which was friendly with internet and computers. Other than that the hostel was a nice place to hang out in the lounge and watching local TV.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
Yes maybe another year, this trip was a big one, but if I have the time I would like to to Kenya.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
A couple of little activities you can get out easily when you need them to entertain the children. I took travel connect 4 which I’d read had been used on other projects, they really appreciated it and hadn’t played before even if they were a bit over-keen and ended up playing other games with it afterwards too!

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Enjoy yourself!

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

Rebecca George – Review

Why did you want to volunteer?
I wanted experience Argentina and what it;s like for the children living in the shanty town and try and help in any way I could.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Yes I think we made a difference. Two girls changed their behaviour in the time I was there just because we had enough in our group to spend time with them and play skipping and some word games. I hope with enough volunteers that every child gets some attention so the same can happen again.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
I am considering Cambodia because I have heard some great things about the place and some friends have been already.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
Activities for the children because you don’t want to rely on what the charity has as they can run out.

How much money would you suggest you take per week?
£150 should be plenty, I spent more but I ate out more. And you need to allow £20 a week for your project transport.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Be prepared to see children affected by really poor ugly conditions in a city. I met one girl who was only thirteen and pregnant, it was very emotional but we tried to involve her as much as we could because she still wanted to do everything the others were.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas

Catherine Scott – Review

For my first trip with OV I chose Ecuador as it fitted in nicely with my travel plans from Ecuador to Peru then Argentina, Brazil and home.

It was a country which has aways interested me since I read about a local man who went round the country on motorbike for charity. It seemed to be a small country with everything in it and yet you don’t hear much about it in the news.

I spent two weeks at a nursery in Quito and then two weeks on a conservation project in the forest planting and clearing ditches. Both projects were very different. I also took Spanish classes for my first two weeks in the mornings which were invaluable to me as I only knew the basic words for hello and goodbye when I arrived. My dictionary was essential for the conservation project as no one spoke English there!

I was able to bond with the children in the nursery easily and made friends with the staff and other volunteers at the conservation project. I am still in contact with one of them and hope to revisit one day.

Overall it was a fantastic way to start a longer trip and made me more confident on my subsequent travels, I am not sure how confident I would have been if I hadn’t volunteered first.

Advice for anyone else? Learn some Spanish before you go because it’s easier to build on what you know already than start from scratch. Oh and you don’t need malaria tablets if you are only in the city as it’s so high up!

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas

Aisling Fletcher – Review

Why did you want to volunteer?
I always wanted to visit Mexico and thought volunteering would be a good option.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
I worked in a few different projects so not sure how much of a difference I made to the children, but it was great doing different things in totally different places.

What did you do for fun?
Evenings in the city centre listening to the street music.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
Not really, although it was funny teaching English when you can’t speak Spanish but I managed it okay in the end.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
There were twelve of us in the volunteer house so it wasn’t hard to make friends as you all live and work together.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
Yes I would definitely do another project, probably Thailand or Cambodia if I can save the money.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
Clothes for hot weather! It gets really hot there, everything sticks!

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Teaching is the best type of work even if you’ve never done it before, maybe playing outdoor games a close second.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas

Nicola Fairclough – Review

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
I would absolutely, volunteering helps you to learn about yourself and the world around you. I am definitely a better person for it.

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?
Just do it. Throw yourself right in and take everything as it comes. All my best times volunteering were the unexpected things, the planned activities were never the same as the last minute ones.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
Trainers for running around and casual clothes as you will be working in a really rough area. I wore my project tshirt and a hoodie, jeans and trainers, you really want to blend in. Don’t wear your jewellry either or a watch, you don’t need them and I think it makes the children feel awkward.

How much money would you suggest you take per week?
I managed on £100 a week including the taxi to get to the project each day, all my food and nights out. Other people who were with me were spending £150 a week so I guess it depends.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
It’s a massive modern city but the work you do with the kids in the community project is something really special as there are not many other people helping them so go with an open mind and be prepared for extremes each day, on the one hand modern Buenos Aires and then the next minute total poverty and serious problems. It can be quite difficult to take in at times and was heartbreaking to leave.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas

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.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas

Connor Lane – Review

Why did you want to volunteer?
I wanted to be able to travel on my own and make friends at the same time. I have travelled around Europe before Interailing but it’s hard to make friends when you are at different hostels each night.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?

Yes we definitely made a difference to the children. They seemed to love having volunteers around and they were easy to make friends with from day one!

What did you do for fun?

Bars, cafes and the city centre. I was surprised at the number of bars in the city and we worked our way round quite a few!

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

Teaching the children at the school new sports and games. British bulldog was quite popular and I managed to pass on some basketball techniques to some of the girls.

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

Yes but not to Merida as I have done this one now!

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

It’s a great way to travel on your own without all the hassle of moving around between places with taxis and buses when you don’t speak the language. In Merida everything felt like home because you have people there to help you out if you need anything.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?

You have to give it 100% and not holdback because the time goes so quickly, my 3 weeks felt like 1!

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas

Hai Sin Lin – Bulgaria

Why did you want to volunteer?
For a good experience.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
With the gypsy children we help to be more behaved and play nicely.

What did you do for fun?
We went on kayak in the forest and to the beaches.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
I went with my friend and made many friends with other volunteers.

What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise
The volunteer house was my favourite place to be with everyone. We also went to the city centre in the evenings.

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

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
Toys for the children to play and an interest in the projects and children.

How much money would you suggest you take per week?
100 pounds is enough

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Go in the summer when the weather is good.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Europe

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

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas

Rose Trott – Review

Why did you want to volunteer?
I wanted to visit Asia and many of the other companies were too expensive. I found this project online by accident whilst searching online.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
The work done by the volunteers is truly astonishing. There are not a lot of resources but the books you use are really good and help the children to learn English really quickly. The project director explained that if the children can learn good English they will have a chance to get scholarships like he did to good colleges in the capital and perhaps even University. It was incredible to think that we were all a part of that for the children.

What did you do for fun?
We stayed at the school most evenings, a few went into town to the bars. But it was just as much fun at the school. There were about 20 of us when I was there but I heard there are far more in the summer so I don’t think you really need to leave the school for entertainment elsewhere.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
I think you need to have an open heart – you can’t just sit back and watch and expect everything to be like it is as home.

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?
If they really want to help then you have to just do it. Some of the volunteers were there just for the beach and did not get involved too much on the teaching side of things but I think you can miss out on a lot in that way. One of the girls was crying when she left, it is an emotional rollercoaster and like nothing else I have ever experience. It would have been easy to cry as well when I left because you are also leaving LOTS of new friends amongst the other volunteers too!

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
A mosquito net!!!!

Read more about our: Volunteers in Asian case studies