Meanwhile in Banda Aceh during Dustin’s holidays.

by Dustin and Emily, Banda Aceh.
After being reunited at the center with Emily for a few days following her long vacation, it was time to leave her once more, and renew my spirit with a few days of my favorite sport at an ultimate frisbee tournament in Bali. It was great to see a very different part of Indonesia and enjoy a passion of mine that I haven’t experienced since leaving the States. A definite highlight though, was seeing the Bali Co-Directors Esther and Rafa face to face for the first team. I share a couple online teams with Esther, and so was already acquainted with her diligent yet upbeat style through almost daily correspondance, and it was great to have the chance to exchange stories and perspectives from our very different locations. Rafa is quite the impressive figure, and his jovial nature is very infectious. As his time at IHF comes to a close, I know many people will have smiled many more times thanks to his contributions and companionship.


While Dustin was having a blast in the Bali sun, life in Aceh continued pleasantly more or less as usual. Despite emphasizing to the students throughout the week that we were open on Friday (a public holiday in Indonesia), only a hand full of students came, mostly SMA who just wanted to hang out because there was no school and they didn’t know what to do with themselves. So, we decided to go on a fun recruiting trip together (speaking English along the way). Who better to advocate for IHF than the students currently benefitting from the program? They turned out to be quite the convincing group and are now eager to come with us again! Hours later, we plopped down at a nice cafe by the beach and enjoyed some fresh juices together. It was a nice day and we’re looking forward to some new registrations.
It’s been blisteringly hot in Aceh, which makes me more sweaty and miserable than anyone. I’m from New Hampshire in America, a state that’s starting to thaw out from the long winter freeze right about now. I feel thoroughly thawed already in the Indonesian sun. The students are feeling it, too, however. There’s some slowness to the ongoing SD 3/SD 2 football game; a sluggishness to the way the students take out their books for class. I sat on the tile floor the other day under the fan. My students thought I was crazy until they tried it and realized the floor is the cool place to be. Anything to escape the heat. Nevermind curly hair – I’ve given up on salvaging any semblance of a fashionable hair style in this humidity. Fuzz is the name of the game and apparently it shows.
One of my SMP students recently asked, “Emily, why you no fix your hair?”
I grunted and simply replied, “Why don’t you fix your hair. Grammar!”
by Dustin and Emily, Banda Aceh – Indonesia  Achaceh2aceh3

Began with a little seed

by Xie, Voluntourist, IHF Bali

It’s really hard to describe how this trip began, but what I can tell for sure is that after two weeks, there is no way to stop me from missing this incredible place even I’m just about to leave.


It’s a quite straight forward thing that in such pure scenery, all the people here share the same characteristics, kind and optimistic. Children here are so lovely and curious about anything around them.They are born to become amazing people and to be the future of this fascinating island.

Last week, we organized a special activity for children based on environmental education. We hold a special lesson in Indonesian about the importance of recycling plastic garbage and what it means to environment, comparing the life-cycle of the different materials when they are thrown into the sea. We did a small group competition dividing the differents type of garbage that it could be found at the beach next to the center, as there are tons of garbage arriving everyday to the beach. Even if it was so hot and all of us were sweating at the beach the kids were very excited to pick up as much rubbish as they could.


Even for children in such age, they cannot fully understand the meaning of the importance about taking care of the planet, I’m sure that the seeds of protecting the environment are already planted in their little heads. They will become towering trees in the future, that’s the why education is one of the basics in every country.

If you are interested in helping people, especially kids, if you would love a pure natural world, if you are willing to share your future with these ‘seeds’. You should share your life with IHF Bali.


The survivor chickens

We have an hennery at Chiang Rai center, and around one month ago I had a thought “If we have a hennery, we should have eggs”. We went to the chicken coop and yes, there was 13 little eggs waiting for us. We took 12, leaving one so the hen wouldn’t be traumatized for losing all of them and continue putting eggs

We were very happy and excited “Great, now we have a real farm!”… “Let’s make an omelet!” …”No, I want scrambled eggs”… The omelet won and we used 4 of them, keeping the rest at the fridge. It was delicious!

When the kids came back from the school, we couldn’t wait to tell them the good news. “Hey, come to see, we have eggs” We were very proud of our discover…until we saw Nupon’s face. We understood that we had done something really bad.

“No, no good, chicken inside!” We couldn’t believe him. He explained us that when the egg are small like those, it means that there is a chicken inside, and more important, he reminded us that we had a rooster walking around, and certainly fertilized the eggs.

At this point you should know that Ushmi, one of the directors, is vegetarian. She got very sick and guilty, the rest of us just a bit guilty (the omelet was very delicious…) So, we took the rest of the eggs, now  8, from the fridge, and put them back at the nest of the hennery, hopping they would be able to born.

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We waited, and waited. One month later, almost forgotten the chicken’s situation, we started hearing the “tweet-tweet” so went to the chicken coop and saw, for our relief that 6 of them were born…how happy we were. Especially Ushmi, that before was really worried about the karma.

Now we have 6 beautiful little chickens walking around the center with their loving mother taking care of them. It’s true that only half of them made it, and that the ones that stayed at the fridge for a couple of hours have a different color from the one that stayed at the nest…but they are alive and all of them are survivors!

By Laura, Co-director Chiang Rai center.

Moving from Jakarta to Medan Center

Recently I found out that I will be leaving Jakarta center soon, as I am moving to Medan IHF center. My feelings are mixed about this right now. Although I have always wanted to visit Sumatra one day, I am feeling sad that I have to leave behind Jakarta. This is not so much because of the city but because of all the wonderful people, friends and students, that the long distance is going to separate me from.

I will really miss everyone here. First of all, Christina, as we arrived at the center together and we haven’t been separated ever since, not even on our weekends! I will miss having fun with the children of the house, Ayu, Ade and Rahma. Especially Rahma and the secret girly talks, games and yoga practice we had together! I will miss Ibu, her wonderful Indonesian cooking and her daughter Ica with that sweet little rounded face of hers! The local volunteers of the center, the warmhearted ‘Hellos’ from our neighbors and most of all, I will miss all my lovely students! I wish that you will give and receive the same or even more love and knowledge from your next teacher.

Thank you all so much for giving and sharing with me so many unique moments and experiences! I will always have the sweetest memories of all of you`:)

By Zoe


Cleaning to Educate!

by Sahat, Co-Director, IHF Medan

Last week, we had a great idea to clean the center with all the volunteers. IHF Medan Center is quite big and large. In front of the center there is a big tree and some bamboos so the leavesCleaning a ditch of those trees always fall and make the land become filthy. Even the pamphlet of IHF board has been hiding by the branches of the trees and the fill in a ditch.

In our center we have many students from different levels; starting from SD 1, around 5 years old until Seniors. We are trying to educate them to not throw the rubbish on the floor. We are also trying not only to educate the students in knowledge and English but also in discipline for a better life. We believe that teaching is sharing and showing the teachers knowledge, however the most important thing is how to give a moral lesson to the children and have them in high moral standard.

Cutting some branches of tree
Now on, we, as co-directors at IHF Medan Center (Aditi, Lissa, Sahat) hope to give the best of us and the totality of our effort to the center.pamphlet of IHF board

Nasi Goreng!!!!

By Carlos, Work-Study, IHF Bali

I arrived to Bali Center almost one month ago very nervous and excited about this new experience that I was facing. It was my first time out of Europe so everything seemed new to me.

I wanted to enjoy this experience as much as possible, meeting Indonesian people and culture, learning Indonesian language and trying the delicious Indonesian food. That’s why I started asking to some of the volunteers who speak the language how to say the things in Indonesian. Of course, the most important word in all languages is thank you, so the first word my partners told me was “nasi goreng” which means thank you, or that’s what I though.

My second day in Bali we all went together to have lunch in a restaurant, when the waiter brought my drink, I told him “nasi goreng”, to be as much polite as possible and he look at me confused and I repeated “nasi goreng” in case he didn’t hear my thank you.

After 30 minutes the samP1080416e waiter came to our table with a plate of fried rice for me I couldn’t understand what was happening but the rest of the volunteers were laughing so much. I didn’t understand the situation, why did he bring me fried rice? I wasn’t really hungry. When my friends could stop laughing they explained to me that Nasi Goreng, is a typical Indonesian dish basically made by fried rice mix with vegetables and eggs, actually the right word to say thanks in Indonesian is “terima kasih”.

It was a little joke for the noob, which turned into a really funny day and at the same time that I tasted some typical Indonesian food I learnt my two first Indonesian words easily, I will never forget them!! Nasi Goreng for this unforgettable day!!

Kapedo next President of Kenya!

by Martina, Voluntourist, IHF Nakuru

We have been quiet busy this week, as we have started to paint! All buildings need to be painted, inside and outside.

image (4)image (5)

We had lot of fun doing it! Some of the eldest guys were helping us, of them was Kapedo. He has been entertaining us the entire time by explaining his plans for the future: he wants to become next president of Kenya! He proposed me to stay here as longer as I could, in order to become a Kenyan citizen and vote for him! Such a smart guy!!!

This week I have travelled during my day off and image (7)when I got back to the center, small girls and Jonathan (one of the directors, he in a Kenyan native) were waiting for me and they said they have missed me!! It’s unbelievable how these people have got close to me within such a short period..

Most of these kids are so grateful and every day shows their appreciation about our hard work, this is helping and motivating us a lot!

My favourite food is…

by Christina, Co-Director, IHF Jakarta

A student in my SMA (high school) class was telling me about a special dish her mother made for dinner that day. I used this opportunity to have a small, impromptu discussion about what everyone’s favourite foods were. One of the students suggested that we have dinner together the next class. Everyone agreed to bring something.


I love these kind of spontaneous events and was really excited to try some new foods. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the names of everything we ate, but there was some meat cooked in coconut, fish steamed in banana leaves, fried noodles, vegetables with peanut sauce and fresh coconut water. Some of the foods were new to me, but I loved them all. As a special treat, I bought durian ice cream for all the students. It is a favorite among kids here, but not a flavor easily acquired by my Western taste buds. If you are not familiar with durian, it is a giant spiky fruit that smells, well, I’m too polite to say what it smells like, but it doesn’t smell nice. The fruit itself is sweet and creamy and makes a nice desert and the kids were really excited to eat it. I gave it another go myself and didn’t find it as bad as the first time. Maybe it is growing on me after all! 20150327_194116

Do not break the rules!

by Aditi, Co-Director, IHF Medan

Last week, we prepared a list of things that we need to focus on for better functioning of our centre. Discipline, our library, recruitment drive and starting Aflatoun classes at the center were the priority issues that we discussed.
Earlier, we had made posters with class rules for all the classes. The posters had become old and the children continued with their mischief. So, we decided to place new posters and explain class rules to children again. Teachers made nClass rulesew posters and thesclass rules 1e were put in the areas where classes are held so that the children could see them without any difficulty. We also set down rules for the use of our library so that children and teachers can make best use of the resources available. We are also excited about starting Aflatoun classes for students at the center.
We also welcomed our new Co-Director; Sahat at the center. Sahat has previously associated with IHF Medan as a local volunteer. We are a team of 3 Co-directors now and we look forward to making good use of our skills and organising various activities at the center.

King of the Castle

by Dustin, Co-Director, IHF Aceh

A week ago I returned from Penang, via Medan. It was great to visit Lissa, Aditi, and the rest of the IHF Medan Family once again. Penang’s a wonderful place – first time in Malaysia, but I was most excited about securing my new visa, allowing me to continue my volunteer work with IHF. Since the trip marked the halfway point for my year here in Aceh, it was a great chance to reflect upon all I’ve learned and loved thus far, and the experiences that still await me. Timea gave a lot to this Center and this organization. Her departure left many responsibilities which Emily and me must now fill. I miss her presence, but am excited for the challenge and opportunity for growth this presents.

Emily left for her much-deserved two week break shortly after I came back, making it my turn to entertain the ghosts of the empty house with my solo dance acts. The solitude wasn’t quite as new to me as it was to Emily – I had held down the fort previously when Emily and Timea travelled together, and always sought seclusion to complete my online tasks or workout. Nonetheless, the freedom of being on my own, combined with the fresh feeling of starting the second half of my year here, led to an attitudeIMG_0251 of experimentation. From puppets in the classroom to keep the kiddos excited, to a dab of chlorine in the bathroom basin to keep the mosquitos from breeding, to finally using whatsapp to communicate with teachers so they don’t need pulsa – I felt myself getting better at life each day. Now, if I could remember to stop leaving my camera out for the kids to steal and take selfies!

Something that’s been giving me quite a bit of inspiration lately is an online leadership course I’ve been taking through Coursera. A few days ago, in order to practice motivation through positive visioning, I had to make a list of 27 things I wish to accomplish in my lifetime – long enough to go from the basic to the detailed. After sharing with my friends, I was amazed at how much the idea caught on, with everyone eager to share lists of their own. It just so happened SD 4 is currently learning Future Tense, and so I thought, “What better way for them to practice than to have them make a list of future goals for themselves!?”

Reducing the assignment to fifteen dreams, and sharing a child-appropriate list of my own, I put them to work writing what they will be, do, or have in the future. Despite the language barrier, and the cultural differences, the results were very similar to what I would expect fourth-graders in America to write – from the innocent (“I will have many friends”) to the vain (“I will have plentiful houses”), and from the ambitious (“I will play football for Real Madrid”) to the cop-out (“I will clean” – I told her she could reach that goal right after class). Although some, of course, were more awkwardly worded (“I will have young”). While I still have much to do to help them develop their language skills in order to reach many of these goals, it was rewarding to see how much they enjoyed envisioning their ideal selves.