A simple Nakuru reality

by Mary S.W., Work-Study, IHF Nakuru

One valuable piece of reality that one will learn when immersing oneself into the IHF family for an extended period of time, is the simplicity and strength of those who live life well. For instance, a handful of the children who are here thriving at the Nakuru Center lived through the post-election violence of 2007, yet, their joy and energy everyday show a life full of love and radiance rather than fear and hurt. Likewise, when reflecting upon the lives they lead, receiving an education and having food available three times a day prove to be the staples to a successful journey –and the rest is, well, fluff. For instance, I recently traveled with one of the older boys from the Center to visit his grandmother, his only surviving and known blood relative still standing. It was a bit of a trip, with a couple of matatu rides (the Kenyan bus) followed by a 30+ minute piki ride (the Kenya motorcycle that serves as a taxi service). Thus, one might say that we went off into the middle of nowhere. Yet, upon my arrival, I felt a sense of majestic simplicity. The rain is abundant for tNueva imagen (13)he village, thus the crops are very green and lush, the kids are happy in community, and the caretakers seamlessly prepare the best food I have had yet in Kenya. A part of me looked at David and thought, why don’t you stay here? Though very simple, there is an element of paradise to his homeland, alive with family and food –about everything you need to lead happy, full days. Yet, then the other side of me kicks in that recognizes what I see of myself in David, and that is ambition. David yearns to do something great in this life –to earn a living, to see the world, and to give back–, to have more to offer thNueva imagen (14)an what he lives off of everyday –and this is also something that cannot be taken for granted. At the end of the day, bitter-sweetly, David and I, indeed, returned to Nakuru, because we have a mission here, an opportunity to educate ourselves (though by different means) and a hope to make things better for ourselves and others. Thus, at the end of the day, one realizes, it is the family (blood related and non-blood related), available food, and the appreciated opportunities one seizes that make all of the difference in the world, and there is nothing mundane about it. Regardless of what has happened in the past, these roots are still what drive these kids everyday. It is a simple strength.

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Meeting the children in Bali

by Cici, Voluntourist, IHF Bali

This is the first week for us as volunteers in the IHF Bali Center. The beautiful scenery with the lovely kids there make everything enjoyable. Some of the little kids here are naughty, they will talk, and laugh loudly in class. At first we regard it as a problem, however, soon we realized that the kids are not really naughty but they want to attract our attention.


After class, they come to take photos with us, and because we are new teachers here, they are curious about our names and nationality. Our main job is teaching English and computer, and we are surprised to find that their English is much better than what we expected. We are looking forward to meeting the kids next week.

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Becoming friends with the children in Jakarta

by Yanyi H., Work-Study, IHF Jakarta

Three more volunteers arrived at the Center this week, two of whom are majoring in education, which means a lot of help to the Center. The two teachers-to-be flattered me with plenty of compliments for my class, for teaching is truly something new and hard for me. Another good news is that another volunteer is helping me out with all my classes. I feel really proud when introducing the children, classes and things around the Center to him, even though I’ve only stayed here for two weeks myself.

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I’m glad that I am becoming more and more familiar with the teaching work, as well as the children now. When we broke the fast together on Thursday evening, many students of mine also came and we had a really good time at the Center. All of us enjoyed the food and I made a nice video of it for one of my Work-Study tasks. I felt that the children see me not only as their teacher but also a friend, which is the warmest thing that has happened to  me in my two-week-long teaching career!

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Sunny Life at Raining Chiang Rai

by Yuxuan Z., Work-Study, IHF Chiang Rai

This week is fairly rainy. It usually starts at the middle of the night and doesn’t stop till dusk. There is more cleaning-up work needed to be done after the rain –sweeping the yard (although humidity made it harder), mopping floors, cleaning the kitchen and feeding chickens… Tedious as it is, I find it much more enjoyable working with others present, whether they are kids playing around, colleagues working with you or simply standing by and talking… Therefore, I usually stop by to ask whether I can help when seeing my colleagues at work. That’s what volunteering and humanity is all about –the feeling of being accompanied and supported can always light up dismal days.

Chiang Rai Center in the RainChildren are still going to school every day, no matter how heavy the rain is. Our kids are doing well in their schoolwork, and our younger kids usually turn to the older ones when they need help. I was surprised to see that one day two of the elder girls came to me asking questions about their Chinese coursework. I’m glad that I can help them to learn another language, but I’m even more astonished at their multi-language skills –Thai, English, Chinese, plus their tribal language (Lahu)!

They enjoy every cool and peaceful evening when one elder boy usually plays beautiful pieces of guitar music. At the weekend, the children also play records and sing songs. They also usually cook on the weekend for themselves without the volunteers’ help. Even the youngest girl, at the age of 10, could cook by herself. She can barely reach the pot and stove! She also likes to play with my electronic devices, specially after she learned how to edit her own pictures on Photoshop.

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I used to think that this month in the IHF Center might be hard for me, but after these two weeks, it turns out that it’s more heart-warming and encouraging than tiresome. Admittedly, we volunteers have been going through lots of challenges both physically and mentally –weeding the garden in the hot sun, picking up the kids from school in a gloomy weather, and sleeping at night with dogs barking and mosquitoes humming. It might be hard to imagine for those raised up in cities and fed by their parents. However, it is the very contrast of living conditions and the fact that the kids are so independent and cheerful that teaches me that it’s the optimism and hard work, rather than physical satisfaction, that brings us real and long-lasting happiness.

Making a difference in Medan

by Phoebe, Voluntourist, IHF Medan

Along with two other girls, I arrived at the Medan airport on June after a one-day flight. And we met our Directors, Rafa and Astrid. Both of them were very kind and willing to help. With excitement and nervousness, we eventually reached the Medan Center . The facilities in the Center are much better than I expected, which include computers and air conditioning. Thank you posters can be seen everywhere. After settling down, Astrid introduced the Center to us. We got to know that children only have classes in the evening and that that week was exam week.

Our mission started from the next day. I filled forms for the TEP program, which is an educational program that helps poor children to get aid from sponsors. I was shocked when I was typing the children’s information. Some families only earn Rp. 500.000 per month and some kids lost their father. It was the first time I felt I was so close to poverty. That reminds me of a phrase on the IHF Center’s board: ‘help the poorest from the poor’. I was determined to make a difference.

We also helped to distribute the exams in the evening, and I read the listening questions to the students. The kids are very shy but friendly.

On the third day, there was a power failure during the exam, but the kids seemed used to this and continued their work under a small light. I was moved by this sight. After the exam, I talked to the local teacher and learned more about the Muslim culture.

The classes lasted from Monday to Thursday, and Thursday was still an exam day. I also drew a Thank you poster and put it up. By then, we started to be familiar with the girls here. We played UNO cards and told them things about China.

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We also went to a local market with Rafa and Astrid to buy some gifts for the children. Things there were very cheap. We chose different gifts for the kids in the different grades, and wrapped them up.

Finally, we tidied the bookshelf. We classified the books and cleaned the bookshelf. And then, we led the kids to go to sing karaoke with Astrid. The kids were very happy there.

Now it’s time to say goodbye. I will definitely miss everything here. I’d like to say thank you Astrid and Rafa, thank you for your help and support. I couldn’t have done anything without your guidance. I will miss the cute girls here and I hope that all their dreams come true. Maybe two weeks is too short to make a real difference. What we can do for the children is broaden their horizon and give them hope.

One’s power may be limited, but as long as IHF carries on, it will eventually make a difference.


In just a few days in Aceh…

by  Sherry, Kelly and July, Work-Study, IHF Aceh

We have already been here for more than a week. During these days, we have met children, who are eager to be exposed to new knowledge; local volunteers, who are very friendly and outgoing, and also a very nice and enthusiastic Italian boy. Of course, our dear Directors, Timea and Jessica, have been very patient and nice to us since we arrived. We had a lot of fun.


On the third day, after we arrived at the Centre, we went to a BBQ party held by a friend of our Directors on the beach. However, the wind was so strong that we had no choice but to stay inside. Nevertheless, the food everyone brought and shared was actually very nice. The conversation was also quite intriguing.

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Several days ago, one of the friends we made acquaintance with on the beach showed us around the city. It was his last day at Aceh before leaving for Jakarta. We visited the Tsunami Museum, but sadly it was closed. We managed to visit the Ship on the roof –yes, a ship is literally on the roof of a house. The ship was taken by the wave of the Tsunami and was placed on the roof. We’ve also visited the Grand Mosque –the biggest mosque at Aceh, but only at a distance because we didn’t bring a scarf.


As for recruitment tasks for the Centre, along with local volunteers, we visited the neighbourhood by motorbike and walking. The scenery around is actually stunning.  People around are really friendly, even if we are strangers to them.

For a moment, a month’s stay seems to be too short for us.

Learning to Teach in Jakarta

by Yanyi, H., Work-Study, IHF Jakarta

My second week at the IHF Jakarta Center has just passed. During this time, the most impressive thing for me is finding how hard teaching is.

I am assigned to teach English to SD1 to SD4, which means first to fourth grade, with children between 6 and 10 years old. These children always have endless energy and it’s definitely not easy to get their attention always focused on the class. Honestly, I was pretty worried at first, for I was not sure if I could successfully communicate with the children without Indonesian. But after one week, I found out that language is not what matters the most when teaching small children. It’s attention and patience. If I try my best to explain something to the children, no matter with simple English or self-drawn flashcards or body language or even google-translated Indonesian, mostly, the children willIMG_20140709_174443 understand me. However, this progress takes you so much attention and patience that you’ll definitely have more respect for all the primary school teachers after this. On the other side, thanks to the children’s energy, I can receive such active responses to my questions and requests in class, which feels really nice. So I guess the effort is eventually worthwhile.

Besides that, I also taught Mandarin and Art class for the first time, which are easier, but also fun.


Exploring Chiang Rai

by Guanjin, Work-Study, IHF Chiang Rai

Life here in Chiang Rai is a whole new experience to me. Since everything here is so different from where I live, there is a lot to get used to. Thanks to Joy and Esme!, they helped me a lot to get familiar with the Center and the village around. The Rain Season is coming in Thailand, so the weather became very humid and hot. This is kind of similar with the weather in Virginia, so I got used to it quite easily. And after the other work-study volunteer, Yuxuan, came here, we went to “explore” the place around and found a shopping mall, as well as a market, so I think I could get used to life here.

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The children here are very friendly and  kind. They always helped with preparing food and cleaning, and they are very polite. The youngest one loves watching movies in our room, and she will always come to our room in the morning and spend almost her whole day here. She’s good at music and singing I think, because she could easily sing along with any song she listened to, whether it’s in Thai or in other languages. Smart girl! People here are all very friendly and I like my first week here!

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A new day, a new opportunity in Nakuru

by Mary S.W., Work-Study, IHF Nakuru

The International Humanity is anything but stagnant. There is always something going on and something to participate in. From church, to football, to the farm, to the children’s exams, to fetching water and washing clothes, there is never a dull moment in Nakuru.

Despite unreliable Wi-Fi and the possible lack of ability to get online work done, there is always a kid knocking at the door ready to play or a chore that could become accomplished. In fact, the local hours are by far my favorite working hours here in Kenya. The more you reach out to the community, the more opportunities that arise, even amongst the kids. For instance, when spending time reading a book with a little guy who had been home from school for the week (who has been such a helping hand during his time at home), I was invited by him to go to Church with the kids, and little did I know that I would also be re-visiting the lovely people who had recently donated clothes to the kids the week before, learn how they experience church for the morning and evening hours, learn more of the near-by neighborhoods and get served a great rice plate for lunch.

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Likewise, upon my return home, another kid wished to catch up and allowed me the opportunity to come watch his football game the next morning. Through this time, I was able to see a new part of the surrounding Nakuru I would have never been able to experience before. In short, the secret to the sweet life is to seize the moment –seize the local community, seize your responsibilities and friendships with fellow co-workers, seize the time with the kids, and never forget to soak it all in with open eyes and an open heart!

You never know what opportunity or learning experience may come up next.

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An unforgettable experience in Bali

by Sweetie, Voluntourist, IHF Bali

Look, this is our accommodation. Even though it seems very small, it can hold five people. The sunlight is very beautiful, which makes our accommodation seem brighter. I love this feeling.


IHF is in Buitan, Bali, which is near the sea. When we go outside, we can feel the cool wind. What’s more, we can hear the sea every night. I feel very satisfied.


Everyday, I teach many lovely students. Although they are naughty sometimes, I love them all the time. I remember they love stickers very much, if we want to arouse the students’ interest, we can use stickers to get their attention. So funny!


Also, we quizzed the students to test their knowledge. If a student can get an A+, she/he will cheer and jump very high! When I see this, I am so touched!

These are our classrooms, we teach the students there. And every day, we use the Internet there too. Sometimes, there are up to five people using the computer there!

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On Saturday, we played games with the children. We were all very happy. Naike can play football very well, and when she plays, she is very charming. The faces on the children increased my feelings. I love IHF!

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One day, we went to Kintamani Volcano, we wanted to see the sunrise. It took us nearly two hours to get to the top of the mountain. We felt so tired. But when we saw the sunrise, we were shocked! It was very beautiful! We have never seen that before! Although climbing the mountain made many of us suffer, it is worth the experience. I think this must be the most unforgettable travel for us.