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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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.

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Angela Coren – Bulgaria

Here’s my review of my time in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria was a surprise, I wanted to do something in Europe then found the project on the OV website and booked straight away. I learnt a lot during my stay especially about the suffering of the Roma gypsy people, not just in Bulgaria but in the region as a whole. It has definitely changed my mind about the Roma people and I can now see both sides.

My favourite times were when we visited the gypsy shanty town, the people were so lovely and came out of their houses to welcome and greet us. They could not have been nicer, I actually think they were even nicer than the rest of the population.

They were always surprised that we were there and always wanted to know why we wanted to play and teach their children, it really felt like a special experience to be allowed in to help. Some of the children don’t go to school so our visits were the only time they had to experience something useful.

At the weekends we spent our time on the beach or in Varna, I was never bored and there was plenty to do and more restaurants than I expected, I ate in a different place almost every night although there was a kitchen at the volunteer house to cook and some volunteers ate in.

The housekeeper was a lovely lady and she sometimes prepared us a quick traditional Bulgarian meal which was heartwarming.

Overall I loved my time and will definitely be returning along with a couple of others I met during my visit.

Thank you for everything, I hope this is useful and I will definitely be in touch soon!

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Leah Maxwell – Review

Why did you want to volunteer?
To travel and put something back by helping others.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
I think we helped every project, it was a great team and we did lots of interesting activities with the children.

What did you do for fun?
Nights out in Varna centrum and the beach front bars.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
I can’t think of one, possibly when you see the children concentrating on some work you’re helping them with. They were so lovely and well behaved even though they have lots of problems.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
All the other volunteers and the staff, everyone was so friendly. The volunteer house felt like home the minute I walked through the door.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers? Please explain why.
Yes. Morocco is now on my list after meeting volunteers who had been there and recommended it.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Use the things you bring for the children as they can all be used and the children can get bored of the same activity or toy each day. There were quite a lot of things left by volunteers which were really good quality but hadn’t been used which was a shame. The staff hand them out to the shanty town if there are too many things but it’s good to use them first with the children if you can.

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Rachel Burch – Review

Why did you want to volunteer?

To make friends, travel, explore and do something helpful for others!

Do you feel you made a difference, how?

I think our work at the day centre was really important and the children liked our visits

What did you do for fun?

Went swimming and relaxed at the volunteer house in the evenings. It was a really nice crowd and everyone got on really well.

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

I think my arrival at the volunteer house, everyone ran over to hug me and say hello, it was quite emotional and a real surprise!

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

Morocco is next on my list, a couple of the others had already been and said it was just as good.

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

Just got for it, there are a lot of things online that you are supposed to worry about but it’s so easy and I think many people just need to see for themselves.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?

Some games for the children.

How much money would you suggest you take per week?

I spent about £60 a week without trips. I went to Romania for my last weekend with some of the other volunteers.

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Samuel Harris – Review

Why did you want to volunteer?
I wanted to visit Europe and do some volunteering at the same time. Some of my friends had been to Romania and Bulgaria and recommended the area.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
Yes the children loved our visits and I nearly cried every time we arrived at the shanty town when everyone came out to meet us and walk with us up the hill. It was really special.

What did you do for fun?
Went into Varna centre to the main street to the bars and cafes. Our group’s favourite was Happy grill, massive menu!

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
Swimming in the evening, the sea was so warm.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
Yes I want to go back to Bulgaria and meet everyone again, it was the best time of my life so far!!!! Everyone has to do it!

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
Take outdoor games for the children as there is often not enough to go round.

How much money would you suggest you take per week?
£50 – £70 is enough. The kayak was £25.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
It’s a good one to start with if you are unsure or nervous. The staff are so friendly and will help you with anything you need.

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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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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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