New faces at IHF Nakuru Center!

by Martina, Voluntourist, IHF Nakuru

First week as a volunteer at IHF Nakuru Center:

The Children were so excited about my arrival; they were all kindly introducing themselves and (I’m not sure why) girls thought that my name was funny!image (3)

They though that my Italian name is not enough and that I should start thinking about an English name!! Just after I figured out that they all have double names, the original one given by the family and the English one.

I got introduced to so many of them, that after one week I couldn’t really remember all their names!! It was quite challenging!!

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This week I had to help the kids to write letters to their sponsors, and I was surprised how all they are really grateful to them. Apparently having sponsors supporting them is really important, because by this way they get monthly donations from them and even in special occasions such as birthdays they receive special donations. The kids were really happy to receive these donations so they could buy the school stuff that they need, or even visit their families.

Now is the dry season, it means that it hasn’t been raining since December, but the kids are happy anyway! I still haven’t seen any of them crying or being upset.image (2)

I’m starting to believe that I will have to learn a lot from these kids!!!

Ice skating for Ade and Rahma’s birthday!

by Ade, Co-Director, IHF Jakarta

In the early Sunday morning, Arnau, Ayu, Ade and Rahma prepared to go ice skating. This was not our first time practicing this sport, but our third or fourth. However, Dania, our local volunteer teacher who decided to come with us had never try ice skating before. We called a taxi to go all together and arrived to Mal Taman Anggrek around 08.30 AM. It was really surprising to see most of the shops in the Mal closed as it was very early.2015-03-15 09.38.052015-03-15 09.39.06

We also invited Dita to do Ice Skating. She was one of our great local volunteer in Jakarta center. We were so happy because at the end she could join. Actually, this plan was actually the idea of Arnau to celebrate Rahma and Ade’s birthday. In the Ice Skating rink all of us were falling again and again but we were happy because we were getting better and better. Doubtless Rahma was the best among us, she was very good at it. We also took a lot of nice photos to remember this amazing day!2015-03-15 09.26.292015-03-15 10.48.12

After we finished ice skating we didn’t want to go home, so we walked around the Mal and found a good place to sit together. In the small café, we ordered some nice drinks, talked each other about activities at IHF Jakarta Center and played some games about the countries in the world. It was a really great day. We will never forget it and I hope we can do it again next time.

Happy Birthday Rahma and Ade! Wish you all the best! :D

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Sahat: New Co-Director at IHF Medan Center

by Sahat, Co-Director, IHF Medan

As the new Co-director at IHF Medan center, I am so glad and feel interesting when I was teaching in the Penguin class for grade SMP on every Monday and Wednesday. The class has been running as usual and we had a great introducing between me and the students. We loved to know each other and it was a great time for us as well!

The method for the teaching was trying to increase the students’ intrinsic motivation to learn more about English. We had a nice game it called “Head and Tail” which is the students sat in groups that consists of 4 to 5 students and they tried to worked in a team by finding some new vocabularies. Each group which could not give the right answer they would get less point. So, they were very eager and compete to one another group in order to get more points for their own group.SD 3 in group work

For the math class of SD 3, they made such a fun math for drawing activities about making geometry in cartoon papers. They did it in group works, they enjoyed it very much because it made them mSD 3ore understand of their lesson teacher was guided them and help in every group which is need it!

In every class, it is very expected for the teachers to create and make the classroom situation being live and fun of learning. Moreover, as the function of the teacher is just to encourage the students’ to have more awareness to be independent learners. By doing so, the students will have a good awareness to motivate and courage the ways of their leaning for themselves.

Finally, we had a really nice moment in the class during the teaching learning process; I was really so heart beating to see them especially when they enjoyed for the game and we have been successfully and proudly to make the environment of the classroom more fun and happy!

Dinner with the best company!

by Laura, Co-Director, IHF Chiang Rai

Last week we received at the center a lovely visit. Two Thai friends came to cook dinner to treat the kids, and us…

Early in the afternoon Ushmi and our friend Ari went to buy everything needed for the feast: chicken, pork, fish, all kind on vegetables and fruits. We have no idea of cooking, so we left the experts doing the hard work. Ari and the kids start peeling, cutting, chopping all the ingredients, seasoning the meat and cooking all the appetizing courses.

Nupon and Sukanya prepared our handmade barbeque at the garden and named themselves the ones in charge of the fish, which was delicious. Our other friend, Mee, arrived with ice-cream and sodas. The unable-to-cook set the table and everything was ready.11051523_1633827060174728_1076487494_n

Lab Hed (Mushrooms Spicy Salad), Moo tod Prik thai Dum (Pork with Garlic and Pepper) and Tom Yum Kai (chicken spicy soup) were the main dishes. Yummy!  The cooks were so great that they even prepare special food for our likes, vegetarian for Ushmi, no spicy for me…

The dinner was really funny, all of them speaking in Thai, we trying to understand what they were saying and to repeat the things they taught us, the kids laughing at the jokes our friends made…we even have a little concert when Mee took the guitar and started singing their favourite songs.

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Now, we are just willing to repeat a dinner like this one!

“All by myself”

by Emily, Co-Director, IHF Banda Aceh

I was goofy this week. I found myself singing, “All By Myself” in my best Celine Dion impression to the amusement of the SD 2 and 3 children. The things that happen when you suddenly switch from 2 roommates to none. Our wonderful co-Director, Timea, has fulfilled her commitment with IHF and left Banda Aceh to travel around Southeast Asia. She is missed. After all this time together, I consider her a sister and sincerely wish her the best on her next journey.

Coincidentally, Dustin left soon thereafter for a visa run, leaving me quite suddenly alone at the center. After 7 months of not spending a single night by myself, it was shockingly silent in the evening. I found myself locking the doors a little earlier than usual, listening to the bumps in the night with a little more intensity. I messaged Anggara, one of our local math teachers, at 2 in the morning to report that I had heard rustling in the trees outside my window.

“Just go to sleep,” he wrote. “Nothing bad can happen in Banda Aceh.”

Sure, sure. Tell that to the violently rustling leaves, I thought. In retrospect, it might have just been the wind. Maybe.

The next morning in classes, my students eagerly enquired after Dustin’s location (they have come to terms with Timea’s absence, although they don’t like it). I explained where Dustin was. Eventually, everyone realized that all this information meant one thing and one thing only: I was alone at the center.

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And thereafter came an immense flood of invitations, from our local volunteers, parents, and some terribly concerned eight year olds. They could stay with me, I could stay with them, we could all stay somewhere else together. Indonesian culture is incredibly communal. Individuals rarely seek alone time, and some of my kind rescuers had trouble understanding my polite refusals. I value my alone time, and I wanted to take advantage of my first and possibly last opportunity in Indonesia.

“But aren’t you scared in the night?” One of our math teachers asked.

“Pffff.” I shrugged nonchalantly. “Of course not!”

I think somewhere in the background, Anggara was laughing at me.

My time alone did a lot for me, actually, other than get my adrenaline irrationally pumping. I got to sing and play guitar louder at night, as I wasn’t disturbing anyone by doing so. I taught a lot, which I always enjoy immensely. But mostly, I was immeasurably touched by the concern for my wellbeing expressed by all the wonderful people in my life here. I was reminded that bad things really don’t happen in Banda Aceh that often because most people are caring and considerate above and beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. These parents and university students and children offering to change their schedules for me weren’t doing so out of concern for my safety–of course I was safe! They wanted me to be comfortable, to feel looked after, to not be lonely even for a few nights iAceh 2n the city they want me to call home. I was hit with this wave of affection for Banda Aceh, and I think it will last the rest of my life.

When Dustin finally returned, the children were happy to see him and so was I. It was a nice recharge to have some alone time, but it felt right for him to be there too. I’m now off for my 2 week annual leave–it’s Dustin’s turn for alone time–and it seems strange to go right after being drastically reaffirmed in my happiness. But I will return refreshed, and the return will feel like a real home-coming. There’s something very special in that, something I treasure.

I want to express my appreciation for the all people who’ve made that feeling real for me. The people who’ve left: our short-term volunteers and Timea, who taught me everything I know about this jobAceh 4 and was a constant support system. The person I live with, Dustin, who cooks me amazing dinners and always thinks of a rational point I haven’t considered yet. Our housemother and the local volunteers, who comfort me at 2 in the morning and are an inspiration, with their patience and kindness toward the children. The parents, some of whom drive far distances twice a week so that their children can be part of our program and have more opportunities in life, and who will always bring me food when they have it and give me advice if they think I need it (I usually do). And my IHF family–The co-Directors at other centers and on other continents who send me encouraging emails and impress me with their dedication and competence.

How hard is saying goodbye to IHF…

by Timea, Co-Director, IHF Banda Aceh

When I decided to join IHF as a Co-director, I was in a strange place in my life. I did not really know what I wanted; all I knew was that I needed change. And I got it. In the best possible way. My time with IHF has completely changed my life and I could not be happier about it.

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Managing an education center for children from poor family backgrounds in Banda Aceh, Sumatra is a challenging, sometimes exhausting and very demanding, yet a wonderfully rewarding job. The tasks are so varied; there is no point in even trying to describe them. They range from basic administrative tasks to supervising roof repairs and to teaching children. Which is the best part, really. Knowing that you actually make a difference by providing education to people who really need it and thus help them to have more chances in their future lives is the best feeling ever. They are keen on learning and so hungry for love. However, it is not only the children who learn from us. They teach us so many things about their culture, patience and respect for each other. And you realize that you need their love, too. At least I do and I’m glad they found me worthy of it. I believe this is exactly what IHF’s ‘Pass it on’ philosophy means.MR4
IHF gave me so much more than just a job. It was a very real exposure to a new world; I found true friends, learned a lot and gained so many new skills. I am sad to leave all this behind but I know that my fellow Co-directors will keep up the good work, they are all wonderful people. I hope we meet again soon!MR 1
PD: All of us will miss you Timea!  And we wish you the best in the future! :)

Do you know how to move around in Thailand?

by Nadine, Voluntourist, IHF Chiang Rai

Before you come to Thailand, you know and hear that Tuk Tuks are THE typical means to get around.

And it’s true. First stop was Bangkok and I had to deal with a taxi aNadine - Taxit the airport. Finding a ‘taxi meter’ was not difficult. But on the way the driver told me I would have to pay the meter plus 50Baht for taking me from the airport plus 75Baht for the highway fee. He wanted me to pay while driving. Of course I refused but really feared I would be left in the middle of the way. He grumbled, at least I didn’t understand! Finally I arrived safely to my hotel and my total fare was 445Baht.

It didn’t start so gloriously but the adventures began nonetheless.

The following day I decided toNadine - wind in her hair explore Bangkok with a Tuk Tuk. First thing, from yesterday’s experience, was to bargain the fare. 300Baht? No way! Next try… 600Baht! I laugh and I move to another. 100Baht for two or three hours? Ok, and off we go. Wind in my hair and bumpy ride, but fun. Very very fun! The driver stayed with me for at least four hours and I visited all the places I wanted to.

The next experience was heading up to Chiang Rai in a VIP bus. Wow! I didn’t even realize the 12 hours had passed. Very comfortable, lots of space for my long legs and a massage seat. I even got a drink and a snack included in my ticket. And lunch too, at the only stop we made.

In Chiang Rai, contrary to what was planned I found otherwise. Nadine - Tuk TukNo one was waiting for me and I showed the taxi my address, in Thai, I got an ‘OK, OK’ and he left!!! Suddenly the lights at the bus station went off and… panic! Finally one taxi arrived. I gave him Laura’s phone number so that this time he understood the directions to the Center.

Northern Thailand… In Mae Sai, no Tuk Tuks but motor-taxis. Not my cup of tea as I am not the most confident on a motorbike, but it was good… and relatively cheap.

Tuks Tuks are my favourite by large… with Ushmi of course!

Nadine - Tuk Tuks are the best

Working hard for a better place

by Julie, Executive Director, IHF Nakuru

After a lovely holiday this week I was back to the centre and the most fantastic surprise. The children and Directors have worked so hard and completed all of the works needed for our public health inspection. The place looks so smart! We have new showers, beds, bedding, mosquito nets, shnew beds etcoe racks and storage in the dorms. The floors have all been properly sealed and painted with red oxide and new sinks and running water installed to promote hand-washing. The outdoor latrine has been completed and is very swish with tiling throughout and a tank for hand-washing just next to it.

The kitchen has been finished and new plates, cups and spoons purchased. The children can now all sit together as a proper family and not have to eat out of communal bowls in their dorms. We had our first family dinner together in thnew outdoor kitchene new dining room and the kids obviously love it. There was a lot of chatter and like a proper family meal a great deal of exchanging of views and gossip.

The public health inspection day dawned on Friday and to keep us on our toes the inspector arrived an hour earlier than expected. This was fine as the Directors and children had been up to 11pm the night before tidying, fixing nets, and making the place spick and span for the inspection. The inspector was a local lady and she told me that every day for the last year she has driven past the centre to work and so has witnessed how hard we have been working on the improvements. She seemed very impressed and was really happy with all the new facilities for the children. We admitted that we have not had time to paint everywhere yet but she was understanding and knew this was next on our agenda. Finally she left stating she would give us a very positive report – phew!Resuming the football

After all that work we all took the weekend off to return to our passion of playing and watching football. Kiptoo got the best spectator position up a tree. He invited me to join him but I gracefully declined….

Kiptoo up a tree

Happy Birthday Rahma!

by Zoe, Co-Director, IHF Jakarta

On the 29th of February we celebrated Rahma’s Birthday. RahmIMG_7143a turned into 13 so we decided to throw a traditional Indonesian Birthday party for her unique day. In the Indonesian culture, it is common to eat Nasi Kuning (Yellow Rice) at a Birthday party, instead of a cake.  Nasi Kuning turns yellow because of the spices it is being cooked with and it is usually served with chicken, tempe, spicy eggs etc. Enak!

All Rahma’s friends from school were invited to join us, at the IHF Jakarta.The children were listening to music and playing hide and seek, while the food was being prepared. After having our delicious lunch, we all gathered in the garden to enjoy the sunIMG_7152ny day and talk about friendship and school. All in all, it was a great day celebrating a great young lady.

We wish Rahma to stay as beautiful and smiley as she is now, to get all she wishes for and succeed all her goals in her future and always be loved by all the people that surround her!

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The Great Big IHF Co Director Meeting in Medan!

By Lissa, Co-Director, IHF Medan

This week, Medan Center got a visit from our Co-Directors from Aceh Center, Timea and Emily, and a Co-Director from Thailand Center, Laura. It’s always interesting when we got a visit from Co-Directors or Volunteers from another Center because normally we just know each other through email.

We get chance to learn from their experiences in every Center with different set up. We spent time together, roamed around in Medan City, although it’s not the first time for Emily visiting Medan Center. Aceh and Medan are in the same country but have different cultural differences between these two places. Laura who came from Chiang Rai Center, definitely they have different set up in the Center. The kids are living in the Center. Laura shared her experiences living in the Center with the kids there.Aceh 1

It’s really a great opportunity to meet people from different Centers in IHF. It helps us to learn each other’s experiences. Some ideas from different people and different set up in every center could be discussed and chosen to be applied in every center to make a better function for Center and for the children.

by Laura, Co-Director IHF Chiang Rai

IHF is an international organization, with centers in 3 different countries and director working on them from many parts of the world. We all work in international teams, and we communicate each other via email, sometimes by Skype, but we rarely get to meet in person if we are not working at the same center.

Last week that changed and we had the chance to be in Medan some of the directors from Chiang Rai, Banda Aceh and Medan.  I had to do a Visa Run and decided to visit one of the Indonesia center, Timea and Emily were on their days off and decided IMG-20150224-WA0000 (1)to come to as part of a short trip around Indonesia and Lissa, well, Lissa is working in Medan so of course had to be there.

To be honest I prefer my quiet and little Chiang Rail, Medan is huge and full of cars and motorbikes everywhere…but knowing these three girls was fantastic! We spent all the time chatting and telling us stories about each center, learning the differences of the work each one does, comparing our cities and the local culture and yes, a bit of gossiping too.

It has been such a great experience, we all going to remember it forever and I’m sure it will also help us to develop and improve the work each one does for IHF.

by Emily, Co-Director, IHF Banda Aceh

How much can you tell about a person from email correspondence? From instant messaging? From skype? When Timea and I left from Banda Aceh for our long weekend, we wondered how much we know about our coworkers, most of whom we communicate with on a daily basis, but have never met in person. We were off to meet with Lissa, a co-director in Medan, and Laura, a co-director in Thailand. I had met Lissa late last year, and already knew she was a dedicated and efficient individual. We could only speculate, however, that based on a competent and friendly email style, Laura would be lovely as well.

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The meeting was fantastic. We spent hours comparing notes, discussing the particularities of our different locations, and getting to know one another on a personal level. Although IHF’s core philosophy is the same at ever center, different locations have adapted to the needs of their community, and we all had experienced different challenges and triumphs in our time with IHF. It was a pleasure to learn from one another’s strategies, exchange stories, and bond over our mutual enjoyment of volunteering in this organization. As we journeyed around Medan, sightseeing and indulging in McDonalds, I certainly felt invigorated and inspired by the caliber of these committed and competent women who strive to build greater opportunities for children in the world.
Laura joined Timea and I for a night on Samosir Island, in Lake Toba, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. If you ever have the opportunity to journey to Indonesia, I recommend Lake Toba (after Banda Aceh, of course!). It was a wonderful vacation, and I returned refreshed and ready to face a new week here in Banda Aceh!
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