Sofia Crew – Review

My time at the sanctuary

My time at the sanctuary was amazing, it’s about the horses but it’s also the people you meet and get to know. I have made so many friends and will be keeping in touch with everybody!

Every day was the same but different but the usual routine was have breakfast, then clear and muck out then go out riding. My favourite time was reading to the horses which was funny the first time but I think they liked it!

I would recommend this project to anyone who wants a project where you work in a team and live altogether like a big family.

The hardest part was leaving!

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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.

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Martin French – Review

Why did you want to volunteer?
I am studying equine studies at college so wanted to get some experience by working at a stables.

Best bits about free time?
Saw lots of things, epcot centre and the space centre.

Tips for future volunteers?
Expect to work hard at some times and relax at others as it depends on what the horses and staff need.

What was your day like?
Worked in the morning and then in the afternoon with a break in the middle.

What was the most rewarding?
Seeing the staff work so hard and know you are really helping them out.

What was the hardest part?
Saying goodbye.

What is your best memory?
Riding to the beach.

Top tip for future volunteers?
Take old clothes as they will get dirty and smelly working with the horses. I wish I had taken more clothes for working.

Would you volunteer again?
Yes definitely!

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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.

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Gemma Arnold – Review

The most amazing thing?
Aside from volunteering, definitely the space centre.

Best memory?
Riding to the beach and walking along with the horses in the water.

Best bits about free time?
There was so much to see and you get time to get out and about, just make sure you allow enough time, I think 2 days away from the sanctuary makes it easier although some volunteers managed things in one long day.

Tell us about the people
The local people are so generous and patient with us and explained everything we needed to know. I made some good friends with local volunteers.

Would you consider volunteering again and where?
I would like to try something adventurous next time,perhaps India as it’s always been a country I’ve wanted to visit.

Tips for future volunteers?
Go with it and enjoy every minute of it!

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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!

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Tanya Read – Review

Why did you want to volunteer?
To explore and travel at the same time.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Absolutely! The project I helped in was a day nursery for some of the poorest children and they simply don’t have enough people working there to do everything. It was a lot of running around and making sure the children had something to do and were okay but it was great fun and the time went really quickly each day.

What did you do for fun?
We visited Otovalo and went to the coast for a few days.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
There wasn’t one thing which stood out as it was all so much fun. Practising my Spanish with the children was interesting and involved lots of laughing, I don’t think they understood I wasn’t from there so kept repeating things to me. The staff often had to try and translate but it was funny.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
We were a really great little bunch, there were 3 of us then another girl finished her stay but I think on this project it’s more about getting to know the locals and the people you work with than some other projects which are busier, at least that’s my impression as I met a girl who’d done a couple of other projects with OV which were bigger groups.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
I would like to visit India next and maybe a couple of others too.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
Wetwipes for your project so you can wipe the children’s hands quickly when they get covered in paint.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Speak Spanish from day one, regardless of how little you know, it really makes a difference and opens up opportunities with the local people. Don’t do what I did and worry about Spanish so much I didn’t speak to anyone, a few hellos really opens things up and makes everyone else comfortable with you too! Go for it!

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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!

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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!

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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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Sam Connelly – Paraguay

Who do you remember?
The family were helpful and friendly. They did everything they could within their means to support and help me with everything I needing from washing my clothes to showing me around and where everything was. I could not ever thank them enough!

Why did you want to volunteer?
I had always wanted to have a challenge where I have to face up to things on my own and problem solve. I think until my trip I had quite an easy time and I was glad I went.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
The children there were desperate to learn English and had not had a volunteer for awhile so it was nice to start the classes again even though it was not something I had thought about before travelling so I had to brush up on my own English skills and think about what I was going to teach them.

What did you do for fun?
Sat with the family and laughed constantly!

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
We did a walk into town, that was an adventure trek, we walked over fields and through forests and waded through streams. The bus would have been easier but walking was more fun and I got to see lots of wildlife on the way.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
You make friends with everyone there. The family introduce you to all their family and everyone they know, it was really easy.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers? Please explain why.
Yes I think I would like to experience something else similar, I am thinking about the Kenya project. I am definitely more interested in experiences where I will be on my own with local people rather than living in a large group, although I realise being on your own is not everyone’s desire.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Learn as much Spanish as you possibly can before you go, I was still practising on the flight as it arrived in Asuncion and wish I had done more beforehand as it can take until your second week to get the hang of it. Everything sounds like one continuous word or sound if you don’t know some basic words and can split up what you hear.

 

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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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