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A Lesson in Friendship   (published in Mongolia)

July 1, 2010 by   Comments(0)

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One of the first things to strike me about the Mongolian people was their unconditional friendliness and warmth. Everywhere you go you are greeted by a smile, even if your conversation is limited to ‘hello’ (sain bainuu), ‘thank you’ (bayarlalaa), ‘sorry’ (uuchlaarai) and the numbers 1-5. My terrible pronunciation of Mongolian does not seem to matter though, and everyone, young and old is welcoming from the first instance. I wondered where they get this from, and then at the Gandan monastery, on my induction with the fabulous Saruul (Projects Abroad Project Supervisor), she told me a  fairytale which may explain part of why the national psyche is so co-operative and helpful. The story is told to all children in Mongolia, from all religions, ethnicities and backgrounds.

One day, there were four friendly animals, namely an elephant, a monkey, a rabbit and a dove. They came across an apple tree. They all wanted an apple for themselves to satisfy their hunger; each animal tried to get an apple in turn, they reached and stretched but none could reach it alone. In the course of their efforts they had the idea to work together, starting at the bottom with the youngest of the four, the elephant, working their way up to the oldest, the dove. They stood on each others backs and found that by working as a team they could easily reach the fruit and they all had their share.

Another tale told to Mongolian children is one about an ancient Queen, an ancestor of Chingiss Khaan, named Alungua. She had 4 sons. As brothers do, they fought constantly among themselves. One day Alungua had had enough and taught them this lesson: she had each of them bring in an arrow from outside. Each boy did so. She then ...

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A Lesson in Friendship
A Lesson in Friendship

Copa de Leche by Saul Collyns (UK), Celia Rime (SWI) and Stella Charrington (UK)   (published in Argentina)

June 30, 2010 by   Comments(0)

Copa de Leche first begun when Nelida, an Argentinean lady, decided to help children in poor neighbourhoods by donating ingredients for a cup of milk and a small snack to be served in the afternoon. Nelida wanted to start helping out other children, after losing her sons in a car accident. Also, she was aiming at improving the educational performance of the children. Copa de Leche is in Hermana Sierra neighbourhood, in Arguello Norte, and every afternoon the children would come and get a cup of chocolate milk and either a biscuit, some criollitos or pan dulce. For some of the children, this is their dinner. The milk is served in the comedor of the local church.

In December last year, Consu, a vivacious, bubbly and smiling Argentinean, started volunteering at Copa de Leche, during her summer holidays from university. She was joined by the first volunteers in February of this year, and with the volunteers came the English lessons. The day would begin with the serving of the milk (making the milk perfectly is an art, which we've all mastered!!), which was then followed by an informal English lesson. The English lessons were great; the children enjoyed learning new things, and though at times it was loud and it felt like we weren't getting anything done, hearing those children say something we had taught them to us on the street, made it all worth it.

We divided the children into 3 groups: 7 years and younger were outside in front of the church with Consu and Celia, 8-12 were inside with Justine and Saul, and the eldest children, 13 years and over were also outside with a small whiteboard with Stella. The teaching methods included a lot of games and songs; we found they were an effective way of learning for the children, though some of the games ...

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Copa de Leche by Saul Collyns (UK), Celia Rime (SWI) and Stella Charrington (UK)
Copa de Leche by Saul Collyns (UK), Celia Rime (SWI) and Stella Charrington (UK)

Kakum National Park   (published in Ghana)

June 30, 2010 by   Comments(1)

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               One of the volunteers’ all time favourite destination to travel to is Kakum National Park. It is located in the Central Region, about a half an hour drive from Cape Coast. The attraction of the park is the Canopy walkway, a set of 7 hanging bridges that allow people to walk over the Park at canopy level.

              Make sure to bring your volunteer cards with you, as they have raised the price to 17 cedis!

              The canopy walk was very fun, but maybe it’s not for those who are scared of heights. People like me are bound to shake the bridge to frighten people (sorry Michael Hyon, not really)!

              Things close to Kakum are Hands Cottage and the monkey sanctuary. In Hands Cottage they will allow you to touch the crocodiles for a small fee. In the monkey sanctuary you can meet the nice Dutch owner who will show you around the place. It is worth doing as you get to see a variety of animals which are not always possible to see in Kakum.

              One thing the volunteers all need to be careful is to hire the right driver to drive them to the Park, Hands Cottage and the monkey sanctuary. We had particularly bad taxi drivers who kept raising the price and to top it off, they got stopped by the police for ignoring their barrier!

              It is an almost a regulation trip that most volunteers do despite the high price, but I ...

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Kakum National Park
Kakum National Park

Four volunteers conquer Table Mountain!   (published in South Africa)

June 29, 2010 by   Comments(0)

 (by Pierre-Alain Petit, from France - Care Project)

On Sunday 20 June 2010, I went up Table Mountain with three other volunteers, Lucie Maignaut from France (Human Rights Project), Michele Morello from Italia (Building Project) and Jonathan Riascos-Montoya from Colombia (Care Project).

Gerry, the father of our host family, dropped us at the bottom of the mountain as we had chosen to climb to the top.  The walk was supposed to be easy but in reality it was pretty hard. The path was a kind of stairway with many irregular high steps. It was a hard walk, but beautiful scenery with some waterfalls.  The view of the landscape was worth the effort.















After two and half hours of trekking we finally arrived on the top of Table Mountain. The view was wonderful; on the left side it was a sea of clouds on top of the ocean and on the other side a clear view of Cape Town without any clouds.

We took a lot of pictures of the landscape and we had some coffee and hot chocolate at the Table Mountain restaurant.

Finally we took the cable car down and went to Muizenberg to have some rest.   We enjoyed our day of adventure and can recommend to all volunteers to climb Table Mountain.

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Four volunteers conquer Table Mountain!
Four volunteers conquer Table Mountain!

How to eat Sri Lankan style!   (published in Sri Lanka)

June 29, 2010 by   Comments(0)

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The rumours are true… Rice and curry tastes better when you eat with your hands. The colours are more vibrant, the flavours are more pungent, the smell is more fragrant. But, as you may have guessed, the technique takes a little practice. Sam Jacobs took the situation into his own hands and gave us all a lesson on how to eat Sri Lankan style…

Step one… Massage the rice in the fingertips of your right hand, mixing a little of each curry in with the rice and making a small clump.


Step two… Place the delicious food onto your tongue carefully. No spillage!




Step three… If that’s too hard, just shovel it all in, as Sam so gracefully demonstrates!


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How to eat Sri Lankan style!
How to eat Sri Lankan style!

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