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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Welcome to IHF Chiang Rai

by Maimuna, Co-Director, IHF Chiang Rai

The children were in the  IMG_1318middle of their dinner when I arrived at the Thailand Centre, tired and dusty from the long, long trip.

Following hasty introductions and generous offers to join them, the children went back to their meal, glancing at me warily. I could hear them thinking:  “not another one!”

I woke up the next morning disoriented and homesick, to familiar sights and sounds; showers running, hurried breakfasts, uniforms being ironed, last minute homework and the all-important lunch money. In another place in another time many miles away, my teenage daughter in Zambia will be getting ready for school in a similar fashion; albeit with a lot more grumbling. I was at home.

At the end of a whirlwind week of introductions, chores, school pickups, online postings and a lively fundraising Peace Concert to raise funds for the Centre I was able to put a face to the names and got to know the children’s routines and habits. I was also able to say a few Thai phrases with a little help (and giggles) from the children. Every time I am stuck; whether it is switching on the stove, directions to the shop, where to buy talk time, talking to taxi drivers, I get by with a few handy hints from the children. IMG_1302

The children and I are gradually warming towards each other, and I look forward to many more exciting weeks at the Thailand Centre.

Once upon a time

by Aditi, Co-Director, IHF Medan

After an extremely busy period filled with activities, exam, visits and workshop, we had a relatively quiet week at the center. Classes have been running usually and the attendance is back to normal.

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At the center, we try and use new methods for teaching children. This is done with the objective of making the children learn better as well as to make learning fun.

One such session was done using story books for teaching vocabulary and for language development to children of class SD 2 on the topic family. Children were given story books to read through which had stories related to the topic of discussion- family. It was heartening to see children read, learn and enjoy the session. Som20150212_162813e went through the books individually, some enjoyed reading in pairs and groups. After they finished reading, the children had to discuss the story amongst them. They had happy, excited and animated expressions while discussing the story and used the basic vocabulary that we wanted them to learn.

This was an interesting session where children enjoyed and learnt well at the same time and we were proud that we made learning fun!

We will miss you Anggara!

by Emily, Co-Director, IHF Aceh

Last week, classes at the center finally returned tMedia Repor 1o normal. The week after exams was a bit hectic, as the students were not motivated to begin with new materials. We also spent quite a bit of time going over exams and correcting mistakes. With all this behind us, however, the students were finally ready to hit the books and learn something new.

We also said a temporary goodbye to one of our local volunteers, Anggara, who was invited to participate in an exchange program for young leaders for 2 weeks in Japan. His students demanded a lot of gifts upon his return, ranging from keychains to sports cars–the latter type of gifts Angarra will be delivering in the form of illustrations. It will be his first experience in a cold climate, and so we helped him prepare suitable attire and the event quickly evolved into a winter clothes fashion show. We can’t wait for him to come back and tell us all about his experience.

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We had a lovely bonding session with local volunteers and some of our SMA students on the beach. Tari, one of our math teachers, taught us how to make gado-gado, an Indonesian salad with peanut sauce. She was even kind enough to make me a separate dressing, as I’m allergic to peanuts. Then, a big group took the meal to the beach and ate under the stars. We spent hours talking in English and Indonesian, comparing our different cultures and enjoying the astounding scenery Banda Aceh offers.Media Repor 3Media Repor 2

Have you ever gone to a Padangnese Wedding?

by Lissa, Co-Director, IHF Medan

This week, we got a wedding invitation from one of our local teacher’s sister. We attended the invitation with the teachers and the students as well. When we arrived, we were welcomed by the bride and groom’s relatives.

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The custom and theme in this wedding reception was Padangnese. Padangnese is one of the tribes or customs in Indonesia. All decorations were dominated by red and gold colors. The food was so spicy! Even for my Indonesian tongue it was spicy enough.

It was an interesting marriage custom to see. The bride wore a big and heavy crown on her head and made her couldn’t move a lot. After we tasted the food until we were full, we took some pictures with the groom and the bride and wished them the best for their new life together!

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Love Life

by Esther, Co-Director, IHF Bali

The rainy season arrived to Bali, and slowly the Balinese colorful and sunny days vanished. At the beginning a little bit of sadness invaded IHF Bali: no more outdoor games with the children and trips; just a quickly drive to the grocery store would turn into a shower, as it has been raining almost every day.

However wephoto 1 (1) adapted ourselves easily to this new season and as soon as possible we were taking advantage of it. Rain is just water and water is life. We wanted to use all this water that the clouds were discharging to our small island so we decided to plant an organic garden at the center.

Teaching the kids how simple is creating life from a small seed, and how to take care of our little plants was very interesting and satisficing. But the most rewarding thing was seeing the kids’ smiles when they saw that only one week after planting the seeds their little zucchini were already grown, much bigger than the tomatoes, carrots and melons.

But it wasn’t only the love for nature that we wanted to transmit to the kids, also the love to their families, friends and of course teachers! As Valentine’s Day was approaching we created a Lovebox at IHF Bali where everybody could leave a message to those people who love. A lot of adorable messages full the box in just a few days.

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On Valentine’s Day we open the Lovebox with the kids and even if there were no gifts, no flowers and no chocolate for anyone, all of us were very happy to receive those drawings and words of appreciation from our friends, students and volunteers. I could say it was the best gift for an unforgettable Valentine’s Day!

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Riding to the border…why not?

By Laura, Co-Director, IHF Chiang Rai

Last week we had to go to Mae Sai to visit another NGO. The city, holding the gate to Myanmar, is not too far from Chiang Rai so we decided to go by scooter… I was driving and Ushmi perched at the back. Perhaps not one of our wisest decisions…

I have been driving for 10 years, made so many trips, but always by car and in European roads. I’m sure I will never forget this trip, Thai roads and their drivers, where the leitmotif seems to be “Why not?”

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We started our trip and just at the exit of Chiang Rai there is a sign that says “Mae Sai 29km”. Closer than we thought, let’s go! And the “Why not?” started…

If you are driving on a highway and you need to stop, why not just stop? If you are walking and you need to cross, why not just cross? If you want to go to a place that you have already past, why not just turn around and go in the opposite direction? Mae Sai is 60 km from Chiang Rai, but let’s say is only 29km, why not? I was really scared and alert all the way. We even almost drove into Myanmar… why not?

But I have to say that it was very funny and when we were back to Chiang Rai safe, we laughed for half an hour…why not?

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UNO: Top game at IHF Banda Aceh

by Emily, Co-Director, IHF Banda Aceh

It’s been a weeMedia Repok of distractions here at the IHF Banda Aceh center. Following exams, our students are more interested in correcting their mistakes than learning new material, slightly stalling classes. Despite the slow pace, however, it is very encouraging to see them so dedicated to their English and we are happy to help them understand the material better.

Furthermore, our wonderful voluntourist Chloe has returned to her studies in Australia. Everyone was very sad to see her go, especially our SMA and SMP students who thoroughly enjoyed her British accent. They have collectively decided to continue saying ‘table’ in a British accent, as a way to remember Chloe’s contributions.

We had a huge and rousing game of Uno this weMedia Report 3ek with students and local volunteers. While that may sound a bit trite, it was anything but. The level of competitiveness between the players was Super Bowl/World Cup status, with everyone jockeying for technical fouls and insisting that they threw their card down first. It proved to be an excellent bonding experience between us co-directors, our lovely local volunteers, and students from a variety of classes–a reminder of why life here is so special. Even these little moments can be so meaningful!

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Struggling to get into Secondary School in Kenya

by Valeria, Co-Director, IHF Nakuru

To get a kid into Secondary school in Kenya is a miserable business. First of all a parent has to come to a desirable school with his child’s K.C.P.E. results (Kenyan Certificate of Primary Education) and ask if this school is willing to take his child. Sometimes a parent has to beg; sometimes he has to bribe a school’s principle or secretary. When this step has been passed, a parent has to pay a deposit of 3000 KES as a part of school fees to convince a school that he is financially reliable. After that, he gets an admission form with a list of requirements: a full payment of school fees for the first term (another 3700 KES), a medical exam (600 KES, sometimes 1000 KES), passport photos (200 KES), a copy of a birth certificate, a school uniform (around 5000 KES), a set of books including Bible (7000 – 10000 KES), etc.

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If even one item is missing “these people” will give a parent hard time, make him feel miserable while schooling him as a teenager. If the missing item is a wrong colored vest or tie, even if school fees have been paid, the child won’t be admitted. Go and fix everything until it is perfect! They put a school’s stamp on every book; even exercise ones, to make it even more burocratic. Oh and more… after all these payments that a Kenyan parent finds very hard to complete, because usually the amount of money one spends on getting a kid into Secondary school is as twice as one month’s salary.

The most infuriating thing is all these secretaries, they know how it is hard, they know how parents are struggling to fulfill all these requirements, how much time they spend in queues (at least 3 hours in a bank to make one payment), but they want cut them a slack. They will make them feel like a piece of crap, they will give them all these looks. Ugh…  image1

Some exercise after teaching in Bali!

by Yang, Work-study, IHF Bali

This week Yilin and I thought we should try another way to help children remember new words since some kids had told us that they had problems in doing so.

Therefore, Yilin tried to draw the animals, which they were going to learn on the whiteboard and I imitated the sounds Students in SD3 Pear were all interested in drawing and they finished their versions in less than 15 minutes! This one was done by Haruka, a lovely girl from the class.

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We Marveled at their skills of drawing pictures and were very glad that they could finally memorize these new words!

On Wednesday, two former students came by and Helene taught them some French words. One of them who now works in Kuta told us that she thinks her ability to speak English is crucial for her career and that she learned a lot at IHF Bali. It’s such an encouragement to all of us because sometimes we are not sure about how much knowledge our students are really getting and whether our teaching is helpful to them. One of the reasons why I like IHF is that it always reminds me that only knowledge cannot be taken away!

Besides, there are more and more kids coming to the center. For example in SD6 we have more than 20 students who come here regularly. We are delighted every time Esther tells us that we have new students!

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For us, they are not only our students but also our friends and teachers. They invite us to go fishing and teach us Indonesian and local customs. Actually we learn much from these lovely children.

On Saturday, we held a special project called “Sports Day” in order to encourage children to do exercise and build up their team spirit. Esther and Eric played football with some kids while Helene took part in the badminton game. It was an exhausting day, but very fun!BBBB

It’s the last week for Yilin and I and I can’t express how grateful we are to the kids and fellow volunteers. With students, I don’t feel lonely in this foreign land and with the help of other volunteers; I am gradually able to deal with my international and local work. This has been such a wonderful experience to me and I will never forget it!