Volunteer in Asia
Apart from the daily routine and some other work that we did, there was always enough time to go snorkeling. There were different snorkeling grounds close by (and once a week we went on an excursion a bit further away) and I discovered something new every time. Another part of the experience was living on a local Maldivian island – which seemed worlds away from the resort islands.
Volunteering in the Maldives... was everything I could have ever imagined, but the biggest surprise to me was how much I gained from the program. Working with the turtles in itself was incredible. To watch them grow, get to know their personalities and then release them back into the ocean. To know that you have had a positive impact on saving such a beautiful creature from extinction, it is very rewarding. It’s not an experience that comes around often and I’ll hold it close to me for the rest of my life
The second week I moved down south to a new house and to work with the turtles. This was an amazing experience, it was very hands-on and I got to spend as much time with the turtles as I wanted. We cleaned them, fed them and generally worked with them on the beach trying to get them back to full health. They are such amazing animals and the work they do at at this project is fantastic. All the volunteers really care for each individual turtle and no one is afraid about getting dirty and being involved.
Our time at turtle camp was capped off by releasing two of ‘our’ turtles into the sea to begin their journey as independent turtles! Hopefully, the love and care provided at the turtle project will ensure these turtles have a greater chance of survival in the big, wide, scary ocean. Go well, little turtle!
A truly memorable experience was refereeing two days of soccer. The monks truly love the sport and had a 2 day schoolhouse tournament, which I was requested to referee. The youngest monks were the spectators and cheerleaders, beating plastic bottles and plastic drums, cheering their houses on.They played on a small pitch dug out of the side of (literally) a mountain, the ground was dirt and the goals made out of metal poles. In two hours of soccer, I think I only had to give a single foul, which to me exemplifies the spirit of comradeship and gregarious nature of these incredible people.
In addition to the teaching, I got to work at an orphanage in Kathmandu. I cannot explain the affect of those astoundingly beautiful children. Just to hold a child in need of a hug. To feel a hand slip so readily into yours simply to feel love and affection freely given. To feel special to someone. It bursts your heart. Their delight in each other and what little they have is truly inspiring and I will never forget them.
The look on my students' faces when they got the hang of a new English word was priceless. While the sights and sounds of Bali are intoxicating, the real treat is rolling up your sleeves and doing some good in the world. This project has a real positive impact – namely, giving kids a leg up in getting a job later in Indonesia's growing tourism industry. If they can speak English, it will be easier for them to make money for themselves. On my last day, I told my students to study hard so that some day I might come back and speak to them in English fluently.
Volunteering in Indonesia was more than a simple experience, it was an opportunity I had to challenge myself as I have never done before. I have met some of the most interesting and passionate people on the planet and shared with them my life, my interests, my pictures and my dreams. Together we had the unique opportunity to discover the country, its people and its amazing environment from the privileged viewpoint of a volunteer.
The work at the panda base wasn’t very hard, but it was extremely rewarding. I feel so grateful to have had this once in a lifetime experience, getting up close and personal with the pandas, learning their different personalities, and helping with their conservation. We were also part of an amazing group of volunteers, united by a love of pandas. We all got on really well and generally just had a great time together, both on and off the panda base. I will miss those crazies all most as much as I will miss my adorable new panda friends!
After becoming acquainted with our panda keeper and pandas, we started our first job. It was necessary to clean the cage, removing the bamboo leaves and other garbage. After that, we started to clean their enclosures... In addition, we fed the pandas twice a day with carrot and special bread (named ”panda cake”), and sometimes apples.
Friday’s are a bit different because that’s test day, the children LOVE this though, as they get to see what they’ve learnt through the week and after an hour or so of tests are free to play. One Friday it was so hot we all ran through a fence at the back of the school and jumped in to a huge pond to cool off. All the kids who could swim were jumping in with us and the ones who couldn’t we were hugging and splashing.
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