Talofa (hello) Samoa!
After spending a week in Apia, Samoa, getting to know our newest destination and helping to finalise the arrangements for our very first Samoa volunteers I can’t tell you how jealous I am of these two intrepid adventurers – getting to do a volunteer project in such a wonderfully welcoming country, in these beautiful tropical surroundings.
For anyone who isn’t too sure where this tropical paradise is – it’s located about half-way between New Zealand and Hawaii, consists of 2 main islands and has a population of about 190 000. Greeted at the airport by a band playing traditional Samoan music (think Hawaii luau-style) and a blast of hot and humid air – I was really excited to get into town and explore.
One of the nicest things I found about Samoa is that the people are so friendly and welcoming – and genuinely interested in foreign visitors to the town. Everywhere we went people were really excited about Projects Abroad, the idea of volunteers, cultural exchange and host families and the potential for the growth of projects in the future. Doors were opened, questions answered and assistance was pledged by everyone we met.
I think this is the most overwhelming thing about Samoa – despite the ubiquitous ‘Island time’ of the pacific region – things happen really easily and quickly possibly because the nation seems to operate like an extended family or really big village.
Apia, the capital city, has everything you need (even Vegemite!) but it really does feel like a collection of small villages connected by a few bustling main streets.
Our volunteers will live and work in Villages near to Apia in host families – getting a chance to get to know the Fa’a Samoa (Samoan way of life) and have someone to look out for them. The placements are based in the villages too – so it won’t take long to get to work each day.
The project side of things in Samoa is really exciting too – in the initial stages we’ll be offering teaching projects in primary schools in villages helping to improve the English language skills of the kids (because it’s so important to securing a good job when they grow up!), and the teachers are really enthusiastic about volunteers who have skills in other subject areas, or interests like sport or arts. We’re also offering care placements which involve working with special needs children in care centres and mainstream schools and also in early childhood education centres with pre-school age children.
Even though Samoa is a beautiful tropical island paradise, dueto many different factors including a devastating tsunami in 2009 there are some development constraints and some real issues in education and sustainable development. Samoa is working towards improving in areas like literacy, English, numeracy and job creation. We really hope that with the energy and enthusiasm of the volunteers that we can help children improve in these areas.
On the weekends and in their free time there is so much to do – in just one week (Monday to Saturday) I managed to see a lot! I went to see some Samoan traditional dancing and music at a hotel in Apia, the dancers are so talented! I also sampled some traditional Samoan food including coconut baked in taro leaves, sea urchin and (my favourite) oka – which is like Ceviche, fish marinated in citrus and coconut milk. It’s so good! The fish market was an eye opener (I had no idea tuna was that big) and made me hungry for more oka. I also managed to visit a waterfall and a beach – where I quickly made some new friends – it’s easy to get to a couple of cool places in an afternoon because the island is so small! It takes only 4 hours to drive all the way around Upolu!
At the end of my week in Samoa I really was not ready to leave! It was so nice getting to know this Island paradise helping the local Projects Abroad team get ready for the first volunteer arrivals EVER!
Two weeks placement in Avvai Ashram, Tenkasi was a memorable one to all the project abroad volunteers and staff. The volunteers were overwhelmed by the warm welcome given by the children of Avvai ashram. The volunteers painted the dining hall, kitchen and the children's park and also they built a cement concreted platform to avoid the stagnation of rain water in the Ashram. As the volunteers were young and vibrant, they involved themselves in the project completely. The head of the Ashram was happy that the project was completed on time. And she said the outcome of the project will be helpful to the well-being of the children in the Ashram. The volunteers felt satisfied that they did something worthwhile during their stay in India!
I came to Mexico because I wanted to work with children there. It had always been my dream to help children and to get to know them and their lives. Every day I started my work by helping to clean everything at the orphanage, and after this I did homework with the children. We also played a lot together.
It needs a bit of time until the children get used to you and until you have a trustful relationship with them, but I never gave up and soon everything went perfectly.
The children wanted to learn with me and they started saying "Hello" instead of "Hola" or they said "Thank you" instead of "Gracias". Every time they looked at me with their big eyes and every time they gave me a huge hug it touched my heart and I felt so happy. It is such a special experience and I also learnt a lot from them.
A lot of patience is needed, but I can recommend to every one of you to go to Mexico and to help the children.
It is important to give the children time to get to know you and you shouldn't give up. After a while they will be open and then you will have an unforgettable time with them. They also wrote me nice letters and they gave me nice drawings.
When they give you a hug and say "Thank you" you really know that you are improving their lives and that you are giving them hope for their future.
This feeling is the most beautiful feeling I have ever had!!
Thank you for the great time!
This month of July our Animal Care centre is one of our busiest projects, 8 volunteers bringing together some of their harder work, making the centre work as a very well oiled machine! And like they say, the more the merrier!
This project is no easy thing, no stroll across the park, it demands a lot and attitude plays an important role here everyday, some may think dealing with animals may be easier than dealing with people, but it requires patience, kindness and understanding too.
The whole world may be taking place in London with the olympics right now, but here in the city of Guadalajara right now Poland, Scotland, USA, Canada and France join forces to make volunteer work a force to be reckoned with in our city! One great olympic volunteer work!
Congrats to all our volunteers collaborating at the Animal Centre for their amazing dedication and commitment to this project.
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Rik Posthuma, 19 jaar, was sinds maart een vrijwilliger bij Projects Abroad. Hij had zich in totaal voor 3 maanden bij ons aangesloten en heeft daarin deelgenomen aan twee projecten, het Human Rights project en het surf project in Kaapstad, Zuid-Afrika. In beide projecten heeft Rik zich met zijn inzet en betrokkenheid erg positief onderscheiden.
Als werknemer bij PAHRO (Projects Abroad Human Rights Office) assisteerde Rik twee advocaten in het behandelen van een verscheidenheid aan zaken met betrekking tot mensenrechten. Hij heeft geholpen zaken op te stellen, onderzoek gedaan naar Zuid-Afrikaans en Vluchtelingen Recht en regelmatig contact gehad met cliënten. Deze cliënten komen naar PAHRO omdat ze zelf geen middelen hebben om bepaalde zaken aan te kaarten, en de advocaten en vrijwilligers helpen bij het opstellen en aanvechten van zaken met betrekking tot onder andere vluchtelingenrecht, huiselijk geweld of verkrachting. Daarnaast biedt PAHRO een ‘social justice’ zijde, die vrijwilligers de mogelijkheid geeft workshops te organiseren in een jeugdgevangenis en in townships, het parlement bij te wonen en een rechtsproces na te bootsen met lokale jongeren.
Op het gebied van ‘social justice’ heeft Rik zich intensief bezig gehouden met Bonnytoun, een jeugdgevangenis met 120 jongeren van 12-17, die in afwachting zijn van een proces of veroordeeld zijn voor een misdaad. Hier heeft hij een workshop georganiseerd over xenofobie, en door middel van het interactief betrekken van de jongeren een goede boodschap over kunnen dragen. PAHRO doet wekelijkse bezoeken aan Bonnytoun en de andere projecten en vrijwilligers krijgen de mogelijkheid om aan alle projecten deel te nemen.
Het surfproject betrekt kinderen uit de townships in een initiatief om ze na schooltijd met surflessen van de straat te houden en ze naast een gezonde portie lichaamsbeweging de noodzaak van teamwork, regels en discipline bij te brengen. Als vrijwilliger fungeerde Rik als rolmodel voor deze kinderen en heeft hij zich met veel passie ingezet om ze niet alleen voor de surfsport te enthousiasmeren, maar ook met meer energie en motivatie naar school te laten gaan. Dankzij een sponsorloop in Apeldoorn heeft hij voor vier kinderen een surfboard kunnen kopen, een lokale school van nieuw sportmateriaal kunnen voorzien en een transportbus van de surfschool kunnen opknappen.
Vrijwilligers als Rik kunnen een groot verschil maken in een korte tijd en wij zijn dankbaar voor zijn ambitie en betrokkenheid in beide projecten. Op de surfschool heeft hij dagelijks een glimlach op de gezichten van de kinderen kunnen toveren en een geweldige portie enthousiasme over kunnen brengen. Daarnaast heeft hij zich op PAHRO hard ingezet om de strijd voor de mensenrechten in Zuid-Afrika voort te zetten en daarmee een leerzame en praktische ervaring opgedaan in de wereld van het recht.
Projects Abroad recently opened a Human Rights office, headed by Fallou Mbodji, a motivated human rights activist who is currently finishing his doctorate of Political Science at the university in Saint Louis.
Since the office’s opening in March, Fallou and the volunteers who come to work with the new office, they have already created Human Rights clubs in many of the high schools in Saint Louis to help identify Human Rights cases, and they train the clubs' representatives regularly. When not in the office going over cases
Fallou and the volunteers are also regularly in the field, informing people of their rights, and helping to direct victims of Human Rights cases towards the proper institutions for help.
Australian volunteer Lee Hayward, doing her care project at the Projects Abroad talibé center in HLM, saw a need and decided to make a donation. The money she contributed was used to buy lots of clothing to give out to the talibé children, who often have one set of clothing, which easily becomes dirty and torn due to their living conditions. With the clothing that was given out by Lee, the children now have two sets of clothing, one which they can wear while they wash and dry the other. This improvement will help and encourage them to take care of their hygiene therefore reducing their tendency to contract contagious illnesses like scabies. Check out the photos below of Lee giving out the clothing at the center on Thursday, May 10.
Last week, three of our care volunteers (Naomi from the US, Christina from Norway, and Coby from Germany) who work at our Projects Abroad Talibé center were accompanied to the market by the center's nurse, Amina, when they decided to pool together their money and buy much needed clothing and shoes for the talibé children at the center. The shoes were an especially important investment for the volunteers, who have all been involved in health care at the center and have seen the wounds that the children come in with on their feet. The volunteers decided that investing in shoes would not only help the children's existing foot wounds heal, but would also help prevent the kids from being prone to these types of injuries in the future.
Today, Naomi and Amina, with the help of Australian volunteer Lee, handed out the shoes to the anxious talibé children, and some of the clothing as well!
Lamine, the center's director, organized the children outside, writing down their names so the staff would know who had received a pair of shoes.
In the meantime, Naomi organized the shoes in the office, sorting them by size
and then distributing them!
Naomi measured up the kids' feet against the shoes to get the sizing right,
and then the kids got to put the shoes off and go run around!
It was especially great to see the kids with wounds on their feet in line to receive shoes
Naomi also dug around in the big clothing bin so she could hand out new clothes to the kids!
A big thanks to Christina, Coby and Naomi for their donation!
The journalism project here in Senegal is multi-faceted and volunteers get to experience multiple façades of the trade!
Each volunteer is assigned to a radio station where they are responsible for reporting on international news each morning. Additionally, depending on the volunteer's interests, they might also be able to partake in certain emissions--playing music, or reporting about local events as well.
English volunteer, Tom, getting ready to go On Air at Radio Dunyaa
Volunteers also get to work with freelance journalist Cheikh Seye, founder of www.ndarinfo.com. Cheikh's news site is dedicated specifically and uniquley to the happenings of Saint Louis. Volunteers who work with him will get to go out often into the field to do reports and interviews, using the information to write articles, and will ultimately be able to publish their pieces on the website.
American volunteer, Sam, with Tom in the NdarInfo office.
Tom with Cheikh Seye, founder of NdarInfo, in front of the Faidherbe pont in the city.
This video was a live stream that Tom & Sam took part in for the site!
The third component of the journalism project is to take part in the Voices of World meetings, where high school students who are interested in English and journalism meet to improve both their written English skills as well as their journalistic writing abilities. Our journalism volunteers help the two Voices of the World supervisors (Amine Sall, English teacher, and Cheikh Seye, journalist) to run the club's meetings. The articles written by the club's members can be found on the website http:/
Tom and Sam are giving a lesson to the Voices of the World students at one of the meetings.
Dutch volunteer, Floor, at a Voices of the World meeting with Sam.
We look forward to having you here as one of our next journalism volunteers!
English volunteer Catherine has been in Senegal since January on a teaching project, working in elementary schools teaching English, as well as giving evening classes to adults twice a week. As Easter break approaches, Catherine prepares for her last few classes by teaching about England, where she comes from: the Queen, London, and the Beatles! She gave a lesson on English history and geography, as well as had her class sing a Beatles song!
A dynamic and passionate teacher, Catherine had her students engaged and having fun while they learned! At the end of their lesson, she was even presented with presents on behalf of the kids!
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