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.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas

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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Daisy – Blog post with photos


My name is Daisy and I travelled to Cambodia with Original Volunteers this summer; and I can honestly say it was the best decision I’ve ever made! I will never forget the fantastic, life changing trip I had.

When we first arrived it was quite a shock as me and my friend Tabby sat in silence as the taxi driver drove us to the project; he drove like a mad man! We later realised that this is how everyone drives in Cambodia!

Here are some of my experiences with some photos, hope they’re helpful to others.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Asian case studies

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

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.

 

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas

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!

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas

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.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Europe

Jodie Henson – Review


Jodie Henson
Volunteer reviews Thailand

I wanted to thank you for arranging my placement at the school in Soiyak. The teachers very friendly and made me feel welcome there and I really enjoyed teaching the children and mixing with them. I got to learn about their backgrounds as well as their aims and hopes for the future. The behaviour of the children is a lot different to the UK and I didn’t really have any problems with controlling the class. I would prepare basic lessons plans in the evening and this did help, but I would have to adjust these somewhat to each class as the ideas would well in some class but not others.

I was very lucky with the accommodation there and had a whole bedroom with toilet and shower to myself there. I got to know the owner of the hairdresser next to the school and had an arrangement where I would teach her daughter English in exchange for a very delicious dinner which was a big plus!

I am now “back down to earth” and in the process of looking for a job. Would it be OK if I could cite you as a referee? I think some employers would like to verify how I spent my time volunteering abroad.

Please also say a hello and thank you to the coordinating team for the good advice they gave prior to my placement. This really helped and gave me just that bit more confidence when delivering my first lesson.

I hope things are going well for you both and thanks again for arranging such a great placement.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Asian case studies

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

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.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas

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.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Americas

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.

Read more about our: Volunteers in Europe