There are many ways to see the world and one of them is by participating in small volunteer projects. This way you may not travel as much within the country as you are working, but you’ll learn better the personal stories and the needs that surround you.
3 months enjoying a new culture, being mindful of the limitations and virtues of the project you are working on, taking the best of you (those things you never thought you could do) to develop the work as best as possible. That is our proposal, and this is our experience.
The first week is all about understanding what your job is, what resources you have and which are the needs you need to address immediately. In my case: primary school teacher, very basic resources (pen, paper, scissors, glue and a few games in bad shape) and students who needed individual attention.
When you get up to speed with the job, you realize that you have already made friends that are now your family, and you start meeting new people, most of them tourist than pass by. Many of these travellers have thousands of stories to share and they still have hundreds of places to visit, but in the way they collect your details, they look for you on the social media and play cards (or bao, or go snorkelling). And during your stay, many of those travellers will come back to your memory. Thanks to all of you for the good moments.
Little by little you get interested about you colleges life, their difficulties but most of all their joys (and you won’t forget them easily), but you will also pay attention to other projects in the area and you would like to get involved in many of them or all. But the list is so long that is impossible. So when you are back that is all you can talk about.
Something I learnt and understood is that we are volunteers, we work with people that know the place and the people better. We can have all the degrees but that doesn’t give us the knowledge of the reality, so listen, respect, question things and give ideas but don’t give away the value of experience.
“My children” will never be forgotten. My college and friend Zione will never be replaced. “My family’s” love will never be as real. Those smiles will never be matched. Those sunrises will never be so clear nor those sunsets will ever be so orange. I will always want to go back, even when I know it will be different, but that will be a different experience.
PS: Many projects are on the web: Good Hope School (managed by Mayoka Village) is the one I did, but it’s not the only one. A new project is a Secondary School with an amazing manager (Philip) or the different projects you can find at Butterfly Space.