The story about Sharon and Kopus

by Ana Cecilia, Work-Study, IHF Kenya

It’s amazing how fast time goes by. This week has felt as one of the fastest ones since I have been living in the center. I must say that each day I like it more. I feel like my relationship with the kids has evolved to another level and they now come to me to tell me about how they are doing, their days, and their worries. It feels good to be a strong support system for them. This week I had the opportunity of getting closer to two of them: Sharon and Kopus,

Sharon is not usually around the center, she goes to boarding school because she got a scholarship for being very good at playing football. This means that when there are classes she is staying at school and sometimes she comes visit us on the weekends; but now that schools have closed and one month and a half of vacations have started she is back home and all the girls are very happy to have her around.

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As I have mentioned, she is a football player, and 3 weeks before coming back she hurt her ankle in a match, so she came back with a cast on her right foot. The time came for the removal and the cast and we went together to the General Hospital, we decided to go in the early morning hoping we would not find a lot of people and they wouldn’t make us wait a long time, and we guessed right. We got there, payed the fee for consultation and removal of the cast, and were called by a doctor, all of this happened in less than 1 hour! Record time for the General Hospital. I was very happy. 

The removal was also quite fast, although the Doctor kept on saying that it had not been applied correctly and she was joking telling us that she should charge us more for removing it because it was very hard. Sharon and I were laughing together. After she got it off, she felt very happy and relieved to be able to put her two sandals and walk normally. We decided to go eat some chips and a soda before heading back to the center.

We had a very nice talk about her life in Pokot, her best friends at the center, as well as her life at the boarding school. She shared with me very nice thoughts about how we need to be patient with everyone and how important it is to love and care for people, no matter who they are. I think she is a very mature and sensitive girl and I felt very happy of having the opportunity of getting to know her better.

Kopus, on the other hand is usually around. He is a very committed student and a hardworking man; he is the only boy from the center that has decided to look for a job to get some extra money, I think this is something worth of admiration. FullSizeRenderKopus is usually quiet when he is around many people, but today that we went to take some “fruit pudding” (The Kenyan way of saying fruit salad) and we went together to the optician, we had the chance to talk better and I really enjoyed it.

He is a very calm but intelligent young man. Even though he is 15 years old, he is about to start with his last year of primary school and he is eager to go to high school. We have this situation of older kids in primary school with many of our kids because when they came to live to IHF they were already 9 or 10 years old, and this is when they started primary school. But this doesn’t mean anything, age is not important when it comes to education.

I wish I still get the chance to get to know better other children at the center; it is starting to feel more like my family as days go by.

My first day in IHF Jakarta!

by Zoe, Co-Director, IHF Jakarta

It was on my first night at the IHF center of Jakarta when I realized that I had to adopt to a completely different reality from what I had known until then. I was in a foreign country, not familiar with the local language, thousands of miles away from my sweet home, my car, my paid job, my comfort and my loved ones. I had to adapt to the chanIMG_4301ge of time and the humid hot weather of Indonesia, get used to the Asian toilets and spicy food, sleep in a tiny room, try not to wake up with the sound of the prays before the dawn, and finally become friends with Jakarta’s most regular visitors, its countless insects.

However, walking out of my room, the next morning of my first sleepless night, I instantly made my first friend in Jakarta. I met the kind Ayu, who lives here at the center with her sweet little sister Rahma. After that, I had one of the most refreshing showers of my life, using the bucket (everything started to make sense about the bathrooms here). Finally, later on that day, during my training I got a reminder of the reason that brought me and will keep me here for months and months, and that was the loud laughter and voices coming from the sweetest little smiley monsters in the world.


Don’t get me wrong, all children are life and happiness, but these ones are even more special. They are children that come from poor families and/or have lost family; they survive through daily and continuous hardships; they live in the slums of Jakarta; and they definitely don’t start their lives with fair opportunities.

Nevertheless, they have this superpower of always keeping on their warmest smiles.They secretly make me laugh even when their naughty and when they put my hand on their little faces, to show their appreciation and respect for what we are doing here, I want to offer them more and more. At those moments, I just forget about everything else and I feel like here and now, we might be doing the most important thing in the world.


French gastronomy prepared by the children at the IHF Bali Center

by Helene, Work-Study, IHF Bali

This week we wanted to propose to our children something fun and instructive.IMG_0849 That is why we decided to do a cooking class with them. We wanted to prepare a simple recipe which could tickle children’s taste buds: FRENCH CREPES!

I do not miss French cuisine so much since I really like Indonesian recipes and flavors but I’m always in for a sweet treat, and the kids even more! We could also consider that as a cultural experiment for our stoma   IMG_0856 IMG_0884chs since we mixed both cultures by eating crepes with fresh bananas and coconut syrup.

It was interesting to see how the children were really focused on following the recipe by counting and cracking eggs, stirring the mixture… We also insisted on the importance of cleaning up after have cooked, but the first thing we all wanted to do was eating our crepes straight away. They looked (and taste) so delicious!       IMG_0875

It was also a good occasion to talk about food with the children: which kind of food they prefer eating, if they help their parents at home (and actually it was the first time cooking of most of them)…

Sharing food is always meaningful and we all spent a very nice Saturday morning together enjoying our crepes (which were not pancakes as we did not put any baking powder!). After filling up all the stomachs, the children left and smiles were on all faces.  IMG_0900

The lanterns (khom) festival in Chiang Rai

by Nathalie, Voluntourist, IHF Chiang Rai

I was lucky because during my first week in Chiang Rai, I could assist to the Lanterns Festival,lamp called Yi Peng. This festival was originally celebrated as an individual event marking the end of the rainy season and the start of the winter but now it takes place at the same time as Loy Krathong. On Wednesday, I went with Laura and some girls of the center: Kantiya, Arisa and Janjira to the north of the city along the Kok River, a tributary of the Mekong.

The girls explained us that we should buy an offer, light up the candle and the incense and put it on the river after praying. It is mostly a piece of a banana trunk decorated with leaves and flowers. floweroffersThat was nice because I had seen the children making their own donations two days before at the center. I bought mine and everything seemed great until… it started raining so hard! Then the only aim was to get to the river avoiding the huge puddles that were on our way and, once there, light up the candle and the incense holding the umbrella at the same time. Finally, we gave our flowers to some little girls who were shoeless and able to cross a part of the river to release them. Later, after releasing two baby turtles with Laura and sharing candy floss with the girls, we went back to the center, it was a lovely day.


The following Friday, I had also a magical experience when all of us released lanterns into the sky from the IHF Chiang Rai center. Their light is significant in Buddhist culture because it represents the change from darkness into a brighter future. That night, fortunately, there was no rain, but there was a lot of complicity, wishes, firecrackers and, above all, pictures…! ☺ Thanks for this unforgettable time!

New activities coming with the sun at IHF Aceh

by Emily, Co-Director, IHF Aceh

Last week was filled with exciting changes at the IHF Center in Banda Aceh! MR Aceh Nov 3For the first time in a long time, it didn’t rain for a few days in a row—or at least, not heavily. With the sun came some new registrations, and we were happy to see the new students attending classes enthusiastically right away.

The children took full advantage of the good weather, initiating group frisbee games in the garden.

The boys in SD 5 and SD 4 MR Aceh Nov 5have invented a new game that’s a mashup of soccer and frisbee. A team of two stand arms length apart facing a solitary opponent. The opponent gets a few shots—the number seems to depend on how much the player protests when told his turn is over—to shoot the frisbee between the two boys opposite him. When it’s time for class, they are quite energized by the friendly competition.

This week, we were thrilled to begin our art/music classes. On Tuesday, an American completing a teaching fellowship with a local university has kindly offereMR Aceh Nov 4d to run our SMP and SMA class. This week, they folded a piece of paper into three parts. Swapping the paper around, they each competed a separate section of a person—the head, the body and the legs—without seeing what the others had drawn for the other sections. When unfolded, the creations were really cool.

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On Wednesdays, we have our SD1-6 art class and it was so much fun! We had them draw and then cut up their drawings into puzzles. We quickly found that putting the puzzle back together is a lot tougher than expected, especially when the young ones insist on cutting their A4 sheet into tiny pieces. Everyone had a blast and left looking forward to music class next week.

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From the frantic Jakarta to chilling out in Bali

by Naheed, Voluntourists, IHF Bali

This week is our last full week in Bali. The last few weeks have flown by and my daughters and I will be sad to go. But our time here has been both worthwhile and relaxing. We came here from the IHF Jakarta centre which is a total contrast to Bali. Jakarta was20141105_102759 hectic whilst Bali is relaxed and laid back.The Balinese people are so welcoming and gracious, their easy going and happy outlook on life is what makes Bali a place many people visit and revisit.


Living at the centre has been great fun with our fellow volunteers who are an amazing group of people from all over the world, and within the local community people have been so friendly and charming. Teaching at IHF Bali has been challenging and rewarding as the children have a very carefree attitude to learning. I think one of the things I will take away with me from my time in Bali   will be how to chill out!


Glasses to see the world!

by Helene, Co-Director, IHF Jakarta

This week, our biggest news is that our “Glasses project” has finally become a reality! Since my arrival to IHF, I slowly started noticing that many of our students couldn’t see properly. Eyes blinked all the time, children moved closer and closer to the whiteboard throughout the class, words were misspelled repeatedly and while I know, my writing is not very pretty, it couldn’t be blamed only on this. In June, with the help of our volunteers, we conducted a vision check for the whole center and got an impressive list of 35 students unable to read the small letters on the vision test.

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We were ready to start the project, but a few setbacks pushed the project further and further down on the “to do list” of IHF Jakarta. The summer passed and I was personally starting to think it wouldn’t happen. At IHF, we always have new ideas and we always want to do more, but with our daily activities, we often get so busy that it is hard to accomplish everything.
In October, I started reviving the project with Venny, one of local volunteers, but it wasn’t until one of our kind old volunteers, Anthonius showed up with an envelope full of money that I knew it was going to happen.
His mom made a donation for glasses to be bought and this was the push we needed, that simplified it all, as we knew we didn’t need to fundraise the money first anymore. With the help of Ayu, we visited some neighboring optic shops and today, our first four kids got the chance to get new glasses!
They look all extremely cute and we hope that this will be life changing for them, allowing them to focus on understanding the class, not on seeing the board anymore.

Happy Birthday Kak Arnau!

by Ade, Ayu, Arrnau and Rahma, IHF Jakarta

Happy Birthday, Kak Arnauuu!! :D
Wish you all the best and many happy returns.

We call it in Indonesian language:

Arnau's Cake BirthdaySelamat Ulang Tahun, K Arnau!! Semoga panjang umur, sehat selalu, dimurahkan rezekinya, sukses buat semuanya yaa… :)

This week K Arnau, Rhama, Ade, and Ayu went to Tidung Island. It was such a nice place. We had a really good time there.We left on Saturday and came back on Sunday. It was the first time for Ade, Rahma and Ayu for boating and snorkeling.

It took about two hours and a half to get there. In the first day we went to the sea for snorkeling. It was a really fun experience. We saw a lot of fishes and corals under the sea. Then, we took a bath and we went to the beach to see the “Jembatan Cinta” which means “The Love Bridge”. It was such a beautiful beach with its lovely bridge.

There were a lot of people that went to see the beach as well because it had a IMG-20141111-WA0001beautiful view. Some people were having banana boats and doughnuts games. It was a little bit scary but at the end it was so exciting. More over, we took some photos together to remember the wonderful day. At 05.00 PM we went to buy some food for dinner. After that, we came back home to have dinner together and played UNO.

On Sunday morning Ade, Ayu and Rahma gave a surprise to K Arnau to celebrate his birthdayIMG-20141111-WA0009,we sang a happy birthday’s song for him and gave him a T-shirt as a present after Arnau’s birthday celebration we went to ‘The Love Bridge’ again by bicycle. In the bridge we took a walk to see another island close to the Tidung Island. There, we also took some photos because we love to take selfies.


After walking for a long time, we went home and had breakfast together.

Lastly, we prepared our stuff and went to the station to take a boat to get back to Muara Angke, Jakarta.

It was a great weekend, Thank you so much, K Arnau for inviting us to this beautiful island.

Once again, Happy Birthday to you!! : D


The older, the more hardworking?

By Jing T, Work-study, IHF Bali

One of the things observed and felt by many volunteers is that at IHF Bali, the older the students are, the more motivated they seem to be in learning English. Take the senior class as an example: the percentage of students doing their homework is much higher than the elementary or junior ones, and especially when it comes to topic discussion, the seniors make real efforts trying both to understand and be understood.


The most striking group should be the ones who have already tried their hands at working. Realizing that having good command of English helps them secure better jobs, they try to make the most of their time spent at the center, which, at the same time, is equally delightful and fulfilling on the part of our volunteers.


Childhood Memories

by Ana Cecilia, Work-Study, IHF Kenya

All my life I have taken many things for granted. I guess not everybody realizes that many of the things we have in our lives are special in many ways.  Life can start, continue and end without worrying about major complications, and that doesn’t mean that our life is boring, or that it is not special, it just means that we are very lucky to have the opportunity to live without worrying, suffering, or being at risk.
I had never felt these emotions until the other day my mother sent me some pictures of me when I was little. It was very nice to see them, to see myself as a young girl, with the same hair, the same smile, the same energy; in that moment I started thinking about my childhood, and I realized I was a really happy kid but also an extremely privileged one.

I have been living in Kenya for more than two months, sharing a home with seventy children and teenagers from Pokot, and as days have passed by I’ve had the chance of getting closer with some of them, meeting their families background and life stories, but also understanding what they have been through.

 When you take a break to think what such a terrible life they have and when you realize that the kid who is living with you has been through things such as abandonment, family violence, alcoholic parents, starvation, child labor, among many other hard situations, the heartache becomes unbearable.

It is true that poverty is present wherever you go. The poverty in Kenya is no different from the poverty of Mexico, or other countries struggling with a situation of underdevelopment and inequality. Certainly there are levels, and there are different conditions, but when it comes to the life of a child, any situation in which they are not receiving the love of their parents and basic needs, there is already something wrong. Sofi and Me
Then I think about my childhood, the way I grew up, the artistic afternoons with my mother; the trips around my country in which I learned about history, culture; my education; my dancing classes; the love and support of my parents; the opportunities I got to develop all my skills and to get to know my strengths and weaknesses. I have always been grateful foSofi and Me2r the way my life has developed, but I had never realized how lucky I was.

Even though these comparative thoughts are a sad reality, I think that one of the things that all the kids of the world have in common, in easy or difficult situations, is that they are all small human beings that remain innocent, joyful, and creative. They don’t know if they are privileged, or if they are living an unfortunate situation, because they are just enjoying their lives and adapting to what life puts them through for them.  This is why here in IHF Kenya you will always find a smile in the children faces, have a great time playing with them, and admire their strength and resistance to situations in life.