Please logged in to see pending comments.
Soooooo this is the first time I have ever written an online blog so excuse me if it is terrible, it also does not help that I am using a Norwegian keyboard (thanks to Emilie for allowing me to use said keyboard).
A bit of intro...Myself and the BF started travelling in November with the aim of finishing our trip in Cape Town mid-April. My dearly beloved went home as planned and I decided to stay out for a further 6 weeks in order to volunteer and travel some more. I signed up for the nutrition project in Cape Town last minute while still in New Zealand and after a 2 week holiday with his family in Somerset West and Strand followed by 6 days of "relaxing" in Cape Town Centre, I moved to Muizenberg on Sunday (23rd April).
Moving in day...My host family are fantastic. Ayesha (our host Mum) is so easy-going and welcoming. I feel a little spoilt as she does everything, cooking, clearing away, makes our beds etc. We went to the gym straight away with her daughter Shamiem on Sunday who is good fun. Emilie (my Norwegian roommate and fellow volunteer on the nutrition project) and I have made a pact to go to the gym every day to get our moneys-worth. This is now proving to be challenging as we actually finish at 5pm, not 3pm as previously advised. Sunday evening we had a nice dinner of rice and beef (all mixed together) and vegetables. A plate of chicken then arrived so we had a second dinner :D. The conversation was flowing over dinner, only with the slight interruption of a powercut because Ayesha forgot to put more money on the meter.
Induction day...Monday was induction day and possibly the slowest day ever. I was collected and escorted to the train station by Meschak (project co-ordinator). We purchased a ticket and waited for like an hour, train decided not to come so we had to leave. Apparently this is quite normal for trains to be delayed/never arrive. We walked to his car and picked up another volunteer Emma and a project co-ordinator on the way. The induction involved watching a presentation, meeting a few people and having an awesome lunch of sushi and a chocolate pudding (all paid for). We met the dietitian supervisor Fahima and the other volunteers (interns) Lo and Shawna.
So now the important part, the actual project and the people we help!
Emilie and I went down to the projects abroad surf and nutrition office. Here is where underpriveleged kids come to surf, on the basis that they remain in school, we then provide them with a nourishing meal which they would be unlikely to get at home. The moment we arrived, Shuan (surf instructor) asked us to help clean some old wax off some surf boards. Not exactly dietetics but happy to help, that is what volunteering is all about! After this we visited Village Heights Township to deliver a talk on Vitamin D, calcium and iron to women. This was previously a breastfeeding group but it continued even though the kids are now past breastfeeding age. Lo and Fahima delivered the talk and we spoke with the group to answer questions. We then did some stretches outside which the women seemed to enjoy and it was good fun. The aim is to educate people to help them have a healthy, balanced diet (and healthy lifestyle) while working with their constraints such as lack of money or cooking facilities. These people are at risk of nutritional deficiencies and issues such as anaemia and osteoporosis. One lady mentioned a girl as young as 18 in the community suffering with osteoporosis.
After this we visited Capricorn Township and visited 2 schools to drop off nutrition reports. This includes data on the childrens anthropometry e.g. are they overweight, stunted or healthy. This information allows more tailored advice to help manage any nutritional problems at each school.
The afternoon involved deep cleaning the kitchen, not the most exciting task but nonetheless important. Hopefully we killed any remaining cockroaches. We then cooked samp and beans for the children after they came back from surfing. A meal packed with protein and vegetables. They ate well then we went home.
This morning was an early start, we got to the surf and nutrition office for 7:45 and we were picked up. The baby clinic was a half an hour drive away. This is a new clinic where more affluent people bring their babies for immunisations. They then come to see the dietitian for a height and weight check. Any issues with breastfeeding, weaning or the babies diet can be discussed if needed. Most of the babies were doing fine and we just plotted the new weight on the growth chart for monitoring.
After this we visited Capricorn Township again to go to "Where Rainbows Meet". This is a non-profit organisation which helps teach skills to communities for a better future. Fahima talked about food safety with the group. The participants seemed a bit sleepy and there were lots of distractions but nonetheless there was some good discussion.
We are now back at the surf and nutrition office. It is our last day of volunteering this week due to the bank holidays. Tomorrow Emilie and I start a 4 day Garden Route tour. Back in again on Tuesday :)
Peace, Nicola x
Thuis vertrokken, afscheid genomen en op vliegtuig naar Madrid gestapt. Aangekomen in Madrid en iets gegeten.
Iets na middernacht Belgische tijd een vlucht naar Lima genomen, er is een tijdsverschil van 7u (jullie moeten terugtellen). Avondmaal op het vliegtuig om 1-2u middernacht Belgische tijd, ontbijt om 3u ´s nachts lokale tijd. In Lima even naar Thierry gebeld :)
Verder naar Puerto Maldonado, daar opgehaald door Elvira (medewerker van het Project). Werkhandschoenen gekocht en gezocht om een simkaart te kopen, tevergeefs. Bij haar thuis iets gegeten en met de boot naar Taricaya gevaren. Mooie uitzichten op de jungle vanop de rivier Madre de Dios. Aangekomen in Taricaya, rondleiding gekregen en na een reis van ongeveer 30u een douche genomen (er is geen warm water in Taricaya). We slapen in bungalows.
Rustig gegeten, Lola kookt hier elke maaltijd voor ons. Andere vrijwilligers en de staf beter leren kennen. De meeste vrijwilligers spreken hier Engels, de staf Spaans (en een beetje Engels).
Er zijn hier beren, apen, tamarindes, een kalkoen, Theo de tapir, een puma, toekans, ara´s, papegaaien,… De meeste dieren leven wel in een kooi of omheind stuk grond. De brulapen hoor je ´s morgens vanaf het moment dat het licht wordt :)
Eerste werkdag. Animal feeding (fruit en groenten snijden en aan de dieren geven) in de voormiddag en een wandeling door de jungle om cameravallen op te hangen in de namiddag. Tussendoor wat rondgewandeld om mijn weg beter te leren kennen.
Dinsdagen en donderdagen starten we vroeger. Vandaag begonnen om 05u30 (vogels spotten vanop een platform hoog in de bomen), ontbijt om 07u30 en daarna nog een voormiddag- en namiddagactiviteit. ´s Aonds normaal een avondwandeling, maar die is afgelast door de regen (het regenseizoen is nog niet afgelopen).
Naar bed gegaan en een tarantula naast mijn bed gevonden, gelukkig aan de buitenkant van mijn muskietennet. ´s Nachts regelmatig wakker geworden en telkens gezien dat ze nog op diezelfde plaats zat.
´s Morgens dacht ik dat ze dood was, geprobeerd ze buiten te zetten. Bleek ze toch nog te leven en is ze ergens door de vloer verdwenen.
Voormiddagwandeling door de jungle op zoek naar een groep spider monkeys die in 2011 vanuit Taricaya zijn vrijgelaten, er 3 gezien :) Animal feeding in de namiddag.
Op vrijdag is het de gewoonte om naar Amazon Planet te gaan, een educatief centrum voor toeristen, op 10 min. stappen van Taricaya. Normaal met de boot, maar die was al vertrokken toen ik me aan het omkleden was. Te voet dus, maar geen zorgen mama :) Een pad langs de rivier, altijd rechtdoor en het was nog niet donker. Daar een beetje gevoetbald (veel gezweet), terug naar Taricaya (met de boot deze keer) om te eten en weer naar Amazon Planet om iets te drinken.
´s Nachts in de kamer een gecko gezien, ze hebben hem Martin genoemd. De tarantula is trouwens Bob.
´s Morgens met de boot naar Puerto Maldonado, in het weekend werken we niet en kunnen we het stadje in de buurt verkennen. Tweede ontbijt en lunch hier gegeten. Vanavond afgesproken om te gaan eten met andere vrijwilligers en staf.
Tot zover mijn avonturen hier, tot snel!
I will be in Nepal between July 23, 2017 and August 07, 2017. I am a volunteer from Poland in Medical programme. I am looking for a contact with other participants in such a programme. Maybe somebody from Poland is here ?
Saturday moring after a week of building houses is bittersweet.
The week in Mexico is different than a week in Los Alamos, NM. For some (definitely myself) you are out of your comfort zone during this week.
This year we were able to build 3 houses for 3 wonderful families. :) Quite a tough week but totally worth it. See you again in 2018, Mexico!
On Friday, we were the dirt – Stucco Day and handing off the keys!
Making the stucco is much like how me made the concrete, only we use different materials. With stucco, we are mixing sand and lye together. The end product should have the consistency of frosting. After we applied one coat we had to wait 2-3 hours until we continued. While we waited for the first coat to dry we talked to the families to see what they were going to use the house for, etc. The house was going to be a kitchen in one room and the son’s room in the other. After applying the second coat and smoothing it out it was time to hand off the keys and say goodbye. This is will tug at your heart, the family is so grateful and there are always tears going left and right. After we hand off the keys, we pack everything off and head back to camp for one last night.
On Thursday, we had come to love the dirt – Half day of work then Beach/Mercado Day
Today was a short day. Since my team was at a different site than we were yesterday, today consisted of making sure the chicken wire is tight, completing the roof, and putting in windows and door(s). After lunch it was time to head to the Mercado or the beach!
By Wednesday, we had come to depend on the dirt – The House Takes Shape Day
Today, in my opinion, is the most exciting day of the week because you get to see the house take shape. As soon as all of the frames have been assembled and the boards have been put on the roof, it’s time to chicken wire, tar paper, and then chicken wire the house. Doing this makes it easy to put the stucco on the house. The trick with the chicken wire is to make it as tight as possible, if the chicken wire is loose the stucco will have a very hard time drying to the house.
On Tuesday, we got used to the dirt – Framing Day
Framing day is important and critical because if one frame is off, that will put off the whole house. The saying measure twice, cut once comes in handy on this day. There are 9 frames we must build, 2 for the roof, 4 for the front and back of the house, and 3 rake walls. Rake walls by far are the trickiest to build since the tops are angled (for water to run off the roof) and if you get it off by a hair then it needs to be rebuilt. Today you are either hammering away or you are sawing away or maybe even a combination of both. If you have never held a hammer before in your life by the end of this day you are a pro. Becoming a pro might mean a few sore thumbs or fingers in the process but nonetheless you are a pro at the end of the day.
On Monday, we hated the dirt – Concrete Day
First day of building houses is always a surprise because you never know what you will have to work with, property-wise. Fortunately, the site I was on for the first day was great! The land was relatively flat and they already had an existing concrete slab under their existing house so adding a new concrete slab would be no problem. Too bad I can’t say it was the same for the other two houses. There are lots to do during concrete day so everyone is doing something. Jobs include; sorting the lumber (figuring out which pieces are completely straight and which pieces have a wrapped effect), sifting through the massive sand/rock pile (we use the sifted rock for the concrete mix), and setting up the perimeter for the concrete slab. Once the perimeter has been established then the concrete mixing began. Concrete day by far is one of the messiest days of the week because of the manual mixing. We have 4-5 tubs with 2 people and 2 hoes at each tub, they are the mixers. We have 1 or 2 wheelbarrows that transports the mixed concrete to the slab. We have at least 3 people preparing the concrete to be dumped at each tub; 1 person running the wheelbarrow full of concrete and rock to a tub, 1 person scooping rock into the wheelbarrow, and one scooping cement mix into the wheelbarrow and adding fiber. We have 2 people with a 2x4 on the slab to ensure the slab is smooth and the rocks are being hit to the bottom. Finally, we have the site boss who directs where the wheelbarrows full of concrete are dumbed. Once the process is started with concrete we do not finish until it’s all done. Last year I partook in ensuring the slab was smooth which did a number on my knees so this year I brought my volleyball knee pads to make things go a little easier. The concrete slab was finished by lunch. After lunch, we started to work on the frames for the house. Next thing you know, it’s time to pack up and get back to camp to eat dinner and use the solar shower.
On Saturday, March 25th, it was time to load up the trailers and vans and make our way to Puerto Penasco, Mexico. When we arrived in the afternoon on Sunday, we had to start setting up camp which included pitching tents, setting up tables and chairs, and most importantly help set up the cook trailer. Before I begin you should know that everything completed this week was built by many hands and no use of electricity. *For the next 5 entries, the headers are taken from a Mexico Mission Trip T-shirt from 2011.