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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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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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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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.

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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.

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Ray Bryne – Review

Why did you want to volunteer?
As part of my travels it fitted in nicely.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Yes absolutely, the project needs a lot of extra help to raise awareness.

What did you do for fun?
Sea kayaking and diving course.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
Watching the sun set at a beach bar in the evenings.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
I would definitely do another project.

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?
Be prepared for the iguanas to sleep when it rains.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
Loose clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and good strong shoes for trekking around the island.

How much money would you suggest you take per week?
The island is not that cheap compared to the rest of Honduras so take as much as you can, £100 should be enough for nights out on main street and eating out.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Go with the flow! It’s too hot.

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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.

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Mable Fraser – Review

Why did you want to volunteer?
I wanted to volunteer for a long time, lots of my friends had done gap years before Uni and told me about their experiences.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Yes we looked after the iguanas and I was lucky during my visit to be able to release some back into the wild which was really incredible to know that you have helped look after them.

What did you do for fun?
We sat together in the evenings in the kitchen and shared stories and cooked together.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
Walking in the mangroves was my favourite experience, one day we hired canoes and the staff took us round the tiny rivers.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
I went with a friend but I made friends with the other volunteers and the staff. Everyone was really friendly.

What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise?
The kitchen!

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
Yes but possibly another project to experience different things.

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?
You need to be patient some times as things are a bit slower here.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
Insect repellent, sun hat, suncream and lots of clothes for hot weather.

How much money would you suggest you take per week?
100 – 200 per week but it depends what you do in your free time, take more if you want to go diving.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Find someone on the buddy list to travel with, that might make things easier when you get to San Pedro as you have someone to watch your bags when you’re sorting things out. Or take less luggage than I did!

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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.

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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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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.

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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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