Specific examples of volunteer experiences

Teaching basic web design in Nepal

Jonathan - web designer

I was traveling through the Kathmandu valley of Nepal and having some of the most amazing experiences of my life. While in the fascinating town of Bhaktapur (UNESCO world heritage site), I got the idea to stick around a bit and see if I could give something back. Across from my guest house was Mainpoint Computer Institute where I met Ravindra and Sures. Their eyes lit up when I asked about the possibility of volunteering. There was just so much enthusiasm!

It was December 1st, 2005 - the last day of the Maoists ceasefire with the Royal Army. I was nervous about staying in Nepal, but decided it was worth it. I spent the next week teaching the three instructors of the school (Sures, Ravindra and Maiya) everything I could about web design. They would in turn be teaching classes of young people after I left.

Spent one day preparing then just started from the basics and worked up to more complex stuff. Ravindra had a good grasp of English (and the mind of a chess champion) and he helped me to translate complex things for Sures and Maiya. Each afternoon we would all sit together and quietly drink tea as the days lessons sank in. At night, after a break, I would walk home with Ravindra, eat Dhal Baat with his family and fill his eager mind with more HTML, JavaScript and Photoshop late into the night. He had a great sense of humor too! Such a wonderful experience.

I went on to teach impromptu classes in India and Burma, cleanup coasts in Iceland and deliver food to the elderly in Montreal.

Teaching in Telwatta!

Hugo - English Teacher

Although only a short time elapsed, we found teaching an awesome experience. The feeling of connection between us and the community urged us on when it seemed a naive challenge. The children are so eager to learn that it fills you with motivation and a drive to try and make the lessons more and more enjoyable. Inevitably there were days when we wondered whether the children would benefit from only a month's teaching, but taking a step back to see that they enjoyed our company as much as we did theirs was a good enough measure. The constant and subconscious intake of English, even at a basic level, was our aim and overall, to use the cliched saying we found it 'rewarding'. Although, to us, it was much more than just teaching, getting to know a community is a real insight into life in Sri Lanka. I personally hope to come back within the next year to carry on teaching and living in Sri Lanka, however, I hope that someone else will be able to enjoy the experience as much as I did in the near future.

Volley Ball Court in Telwatta

Charlie - English Teacher

As a small token to the community and especially the Children, we decided to take up the responsibilty of creating a VolleyBall court near the Fishermans shed. The Children said it was their favorite sport and so, with a bit of sweat and pushing the kids to help out with the mass amount of rubble and rubbish clearance, we managed to fulfill a short term project. Having something that makes a visible impact to an area is a great way to feel that you have actually 'done' something and helped a community. Although only a very small and somewhat insignificant project in the scale of things, it was great to see kids of all ages playing on it. If anyone wants to buy some Badminton rackets for the girls, they would really appreciate it! Hugo and Charlie (those weird English guys!)

Sambodhi Home for handicapped women

Nina - Volunteer at Sambodhi

The Sambodhi Home is beautiful, set between tea plantations and palm trees 15 km inland from the south-west coast of Sri Lanka. About 40 women who are mentally and/or physically handicapped have a place here where they are cared for and understood. There is a daily schedule for the ladies which leaves plenty of time in the afternoon for activities. Cressida, an English friend and myself, Nina from Switzerland visited them every day or two for a month. We first saw a challenge in communicating with mentally challenged people whose language we don't speak.... which proved to be unnecessary worries at the first afternoon we spent at Sambodhi! Through singing, dancing, playing and acting we reached a level of understanding and enjoying each other's company that works without verbal language. I was amazed by the lightness and respect with which the ladies treated each other and us. Every smile that I gave I got back at least with the same intensity or stronger, and so each time I came back from Sambodhi, I felt filled up with joy and energy! So if you have an interest in spending time with handicapped people, I can warmly recommend a visit to Sambodhi; every minute you're there is worth it!

Teaching kids in Cambodia

School in Cambodia

Our daily routine started with a one hour bike ride. We cycled through the hectic morning traffic of Siem Reap and then out into the vast, green, flat countryside. Eventually we arrived at school hot and sweaty, but with 30 eager faces waiting for us there was no time to rest. We always had fun with the kids in the lesson as we spent most of the time playing games and singing songs. Our time volunteering went so fast and saying goodbye to the children was a mixture of emotions. We felt sad to be leaving them as we were just starting to get to know them. However at the same time we left happy and satisfied knowing that there English had improved, even in the short space of time we spent with them. Living and volunteering in a foreign country is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. It teaches you so much about a country, something that you don't see just travelling around as a tourist. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to experience a different culture and who is interested in teaching. Buckets of enthusiasm and a lot of energy is all you need!

Working with Handicapped People in Cambodia

A report from an unhappy volunteer
Report by a former volunteer. You can see some of the common difficulties here.

I went to Cambodia in January 2007 with the aim of volunteering if it were not for the members that I had grown to love so much, I would have left much earlier

Some pictures

Cleaning up the coastline with SEEDS in Iceland
Teaching web design to Tin win in Yangon, Burma.

A beach carnival in Sri Lanka

Beach Carnival.
Face painting at beach carnival.

Volunteers at work

Volunteers after face painting.
Volunteers  face painting.
Volunteers painting inside of a house.
Volunteers on the Fun Bus.