The Balinese Way… An account by 4 Voluntourists

by Sara, Serena, Amy, & Jason,  Voluntourists, IHF Bali Center 

It has been one week for us thus far here in Bali. When it comes to the volunteer life, it just likes a dream with the beautiful scenery, warm wind, soft waves and the lovely children. Thanks to the proper arrangement of the IHF teams, we could arrive at the center directly with the help of Agus who is the driver here, and then our ‘volunteer life’ could quickly start.

In the Bali center, we teach the kids English and Computer; during this process we gain a lot, like how to communicate with children properly and how we enjoy different cultures with the respect they deserve. The kids here are lovely, outgoing, optimistic and friendly, thus, it is easy for us to be friends quickly. Moreover, they are eager to acquire knowledge and they are diligent. When seeing the happy  and grateful smiles from their faces, we are rendered full of enthusiasm to teach them.

Bali 1

What impresses us most is how determined the children are. For example, in computer class: there are 14 kids but we just have 10 computers. Children always act happy despite the limitation of the computers or material things they call their ‘own’— they share with each other and practice the Microsoft Word and Excel carefully and seriously and help the others. 

Bali 2

All in all, we are very happy here and we will try our best to teach the children here, to exchange stories and to be friends with them. The volunteer life  in Bali is fantastic and it is already! an  unforgettable memory of all of us.  

Colors, Coconuts & Concerts … at the Fair Grounds in Chiang Rai

by Jordina, Work-Study Volunteer, IHF Chiang Rai

This week in Chiang Rai was exciting because we took the small children to the fair. They were very happy to go there and all of us enjoyed the unforgettable moments!Wheel at CR

We ate street food, like BBQ’d meat with noodle for 15 bhat! Then sweet bread with all the flavors that you can imagine, then ice cream….mmmm…
Dessert donuts at CR
This ice cream surprised me a lot because the manner that it was made was  incredible. First they take a big piece of ice and  grind it, then it is  put  in a bowl, and you are asked what flavors  you would like: coconut, strawberry, orange, lime. As well, on the top of the ice cream you can choose between peanuts, dry fruits, piece of chocolate or cookies: no doubt,  this ice cream is delicious!

We saw sheep and we fed them ,  as well  as watching traditional dancing and a snake show that was truly amazing. Baby sheep_CR

The children went on  attractions they enjoyed a lot and we volunteers and Directors also played  some games, but  no one won anything!   All this while, we were listening the concert, so it turned out to really be a great, memorable night….for sure one that I won’t soon forget!

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

by Rich, Co-Director, IHF Kenya

The IHF centre is situated two hours North West of Nairobi in the city of Nakuru. Meaning ‘dust’ in the Masai language, Nakuru is part of the so-called ‘white highlands’ and is generally verdant and relatively cool. However, at this time of year it becomes apparent why it was given its name by local Masai herdsmen. With a prolonged period of elevated temperatures and a lack of rain, Nakuru turns into a dustbowl reminiscent of Spaghetti Western movies. Roads are swept with dust devils and the powder heaped at their sides can be up to two inches thick. With the scorching heat and clear blue skies, all but the rolling tumble-weed is missing.

The oppressive weather presents two main challenges at the center. The first is that water tends to be at a minimum and the mains supply can be shut off for up to three days. With two large tanks at the center we are usually able to ride it out, but on occasion, the water runs very low and we have to cut down on how much we use. The kids never go thirsty, but the reduction in showers does create a bit of a stink after a couple of days!

Kenya Dust

More importantly, the dust itself can cause problems for the children’s health. There has been a rise in cases of respiratory illnesses over the last month and it seems as though a new child every week has a cough, cold or a sore throat.
Med supplies Kenya

Thankfully then we have a new volunteer nurse arriving this week who will be able to make sure that the children are well looked after. As always, thanks to our fantastic sponsors who provide funds for the children’s medical care!  With this support we are able to provide them with all the cough syrup, throat sweets and tissues they need! THANK YOU!


Food & Fun Days in Aceh

by Julia, Work-Study Volunteer, IHF Aceh

This weekend we organized a local fundraising event in Banda Aceh: a sandwich sale. We went to Blang Padang, a local part to try and sell our sandwiches. They could also choose bags with drawings made by our volunteers. It was also a great opportunity to promote IHF center in Banda Aceh and many young people were interested in the English classes while some were interested in volunteering!

Aceh 2

It is now Durian season in Aceh. One evening, we went to a restaurant called Candrien, which sell meals only made out of durian. We could hardly eat one spoon because of the taste. But Melissa (our Indonesian Co-Director) enjoyed it; she was the only one who liked durian!

Durian in Aceh

Alexandra and I also visited Takengon, a city in Aceh. While there, we visited Putri Pukes, a famous cave. Its story is about a woman who left her home to live with her new husband. Her mother told her to not look back or she would turn into stone. But on her way she did look back and it happened. In the cave we can see a woman-shaped rock with tears in her eyes. We also visited coffee and pineapple plantations. A world wide famous coffee called Luwak is produced in Takengon. It is the most expensive in the world!


 Alexandra, our voluntourist left on Saturday. So on Friday night we organized her farewell party and also celebrated Melissa’s birthday with our local volunteers. We ate delicious home-made cassava cake, French crêpes and gifts and greetings were exchanged. We wish Alex a nice trip around Indonesia for the next three weeks and a safe flight back to Germany. And of course Happy Birthday Melissa!

A School Day in Medan

by Rob, Co-Director, IHF Medan

We broke up our usual morning routine this Tuesday by paying a visit to one of our student’s local schools. Although it meant a mad dash through the early morning rush hour traffic, the trip emerged as a good opportunity to spread the word about IHF in the local community. We were led on a whistle stop tour through a number of different classes, teaching in each for about twenty minutes, before being led outside where Rob sweated over a ping-pong table and Astrid attempted to show the kids her Michael Jackson moves, much to the despair of all involved.


As well as the usual excitement of seeing a couple of ‘bules’ (foreigners) wandering into the class unannounced, the kids also got to hear about a local volunteer project right on their doorstep which many of them had not known about. Michael is already a teacher here at IHF, and we are hoping that our brief visit might have raised enough interest in the centre for some of his class-mates to follow in his footsteps.


Ade’s Birthday Celebration! at Jakarta

by Helene & Ayu, Co-Directors, IHF Jakarta

Recently, we celebrated Ade’s birthday! Ade has grown so much since he has joined IHF. It has almost been 8 years now that he is with us. We are so proud of him, the way he is becoming a man, studying hard, being responsible, helping around at the center. On the day of his birthday, our dear volunteer Dita came by. We had not seen her for few weeks so it was a pleasure and a great timing!

We went to a restaurant nearby and celebrated with a delicious brownie! Ade blew the candles after making a wish that we hope will come true very soon! We then went back home but Rahma, following Indonesian traditions had prepared some disgusting mixture to throw at Ade. However, he was cleverer and avoided it, coming back home untouched! Lucky him!

Ade_bday2 A few words by Ade himself for the occasion!

“Hi everyone, now I’m 23.  I’m so happy because on the day of my birthday, I got my university results and I got great scores! Everyone is so proud of me at IHF! We celebrated in Dapur Kita, all together and I escaped the master plan of Rahma of soaking me with flour and eggs. Thank you so much to my sponsors for helping me to pursue my studies! See you! “

adebday3 Ade bday

ESL Teaching Tips & Tricks at Bali

by Johanna, Co-Director, IHF Bali

We were lucky to have friend and teacher-by-trade, Vanessa, help us out with a few tips and tricks in dynamic and interactive teaching strategies with our kids at the IHF Bali center. Vanessa studied teaching English as a second language (ESL)  in China and specializes in animating disengaged children in Australia. Since the children at IHF Bali are certainly not disengaged, Vanessa and her active learning demonstrations were veritable hits.


Although some of the suggestions Vanessa made to our Directors and volunteers may have seemed logical, we were surprised at how quickly and completely her strategies were able to captivate – and keep – the children’s attention. And we were made aware of how easy it is to adopt traditional (and sometimes lackluster)  teaching methods and positions because they are easiest.


Much of the two days of activity learning involved playing, reinforcement through interaction and dialogue, and abandoning the classic model of seated students, replacing them with moving, gesturing, laughing, engaged individuals…  all the while following the curriculum.

We were all indeed surprised at how much the children retained and actually comprehended, reinforcing that while a curriculum is pivotal to the success of ongoing and cumulative learning, the inclusive and interactive delivery is likewise critical.

If I could summarize in a few words: the exercise was participatory, engaging, playful, and extremely effective. Our volunteers were keen to integrate Vanessa3elements into their upcoming lessons; after seeing such good results, we were all enthusiastic to keep the momentum going.

A big thanks to Vanessa for her energy, time, expertise, and enthusiasm!