Taking a Break in Penang!

By:  Letizia, Co-Director Medan

Last week in Medan was quite nice and quiet, like usual, however I didin’t see so much of what happened in Medan because I was on my long weekend in Penang, Malaysia!  IMG_20160801_134620The kids at the center celebrated the birthday of one of our SMA students, Atin, with a giant Jack fruit and a lot of fun for everybody… Unfortunately I wasn’t there to party with them, but I saw the pictures and it looked like a lot of fun!

I would like to share about Penang Island, it is a very nice place to visit with a lot of jungle and interesting travelers passing through.  Living in Medan is nice because, even if the city doesn’t have amazing things like Bali does, we are very close to many beautiful areas and is not so expensive to go to visit them.
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In Penang I spent my days in a nice and quiet hostel in George Town, an ex-colonial city with a lot of history and culture along its roads.  The Indian neighborhood is very nice, called Little India and marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where the colors, sounds, and smells take you directly to that magical and fantastic country.

Outside the city there are many beaches and national parks that let the visitor enjoy a more natural and relaxing atmosphere.  I highly suggest the national park near Teluk Behang village, with its nice trekking walk through the jungle and close to the sea.

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Bonding in Bali

By:  Connie Ma, Voluntourist Bali

Bali center is a place that hides many wonderful surprises. Before my arrival at Bali I’ve thought about all tough scenarios I may come across, however the real Bali is so much different from what I imagined.

FullSizeRenderIt is located in a small village of Buitan, Candidasa. I fell in love with it right away after my arrival, I love the fresh air, the tender weather, the sea waves… All of these made me feel relaxed and peaceful in my heart. More importantly, the kind people! Everyone is so nice here and they are always ready to help you, with a warm heartfelt smile. There are two main buildings in the center, both of which are carefully decorated with children’s work!

At beginning I was nervous because I was not sure if I would do well and whether the kids would like me or not. It turned out to be a relief, what the children really want is that we spend time with them! They are happy that we are here playing with them, chatting with them, talking about new things strange to them, caring for them, and that’s all that matters.  The more I get along with them, the more I want to get involved with them.

The first week mostly was special activities, which gave me the opportunity to get familiar IMG_4430with the new environment and to know each student. I was surprised by the kids. They are artists, and they are really good at drawing and handicrafts.The kids are quick learners, they learn new stuff in a very quick manner and they even did a better job than volunteers! I have to say that they gave me more than I gave them, and I do appreciate that. They have the most beautiful eyes in the world, through which I can feel their understanding, simple satisfaction and eagerness for knowledge.

Another thing I would like to mention is that I made some new friends here, that’s a big fortune for me personally! Volunteering has been far more than doing a good deed, it was an eye-opening experience that helped me look at the world from a whole different perspective. I’m very thankful for those who made my volunteering in Bali possible, and those who made my volunteering period so much fun and memorable!

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Crafting with Shells

By: Riska, Local Teacher Aceh

Halo everyone!

I am going to share with you our art activity this week at the center.  We held an art class with our SD5 students and with a new teacher named Nisa.  Actually, we were looking for some inspiration to create something with shells, and we certainly found a great idea to use these materials.  We also needed plywood, paint colors, and hot glue.  We divided the students into two groups, the girls made flowers and the boys made a starfish.  We timeDSCN2801 the groups and they each had a leader for their group.  It was like a competition!

At first, we had prepared the plywood in different sizes. Then, we put hot glue on top of shells and sticks, and placed them on the wood. The shells were placed to follow the size of the pictures that we wanted.  We needed to make sure that the glue was hot and held strong. Then, we put different colors on the cover of the shells, to make it more visually interesting. We did this using the paint colors.  There were four teachers helping, and also a co-director.

Finally, we could make the handicraft with the shells.  We took pictures with the crafts and loved all the shell crafts very much. I felt good about this project!  The children have great art skills. Not just great ideas but also great pictures and they are great at sharing.  They did so well!  Even for the boys’ group, who struggled at first to handle the work, ended up doing well. They are all so talented and inspiring.

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Indonesia Indah (Beautiful Indonesia)

By ZheWei (IHF, Jakarta Work-Study)

After working at IHF for more than a month, I was able to take a few days off to explore the country.  I wanted to visit somewhere that was relatively close to Jakarta, yet far enough for me to get a different taste of Indonesia.  So, on a quiet Thursday morning, I hopped on a flight bound for the historic city of Yogyakarta, also known as, Jogja.

GunungMerapiOn the first day, I visited Gunung Merapi.  The towering volcano was set in a lush green landscape.  Its peak was flanked by clouds most of the time.  We were told that on some days, one can even see plumes of smoke rising from the caldera.  I visited some of the surrounding landscapes, and a house that was destroyed by the pyroclastic flow from one of the recent eruptions.  The dire state of the house was a reminder of how powerful the force of nature could be.

The following morning, I went on a tour of some of the historic sites in Jogja.  I visited the Borobudur temple, which is the largest Buddhist temple in the world.  Walking around each of the nine layers of the temple in the early morning gave me a sense of tranquility – a breath of fresh air after the hustle and bustle of Jakarta.  I watched as the sun rose behind curtains of mist.  And as the mist slowly fell away, I looked in awe as the magnificent Borobudur was bathed in sunlight.  It was a mystical experience.

After that, I visited the Prambanan temples, which was also built in the 9th century.  The site of the Prambanan temples hosts a number of individual monuments, nestled in the midst of some of the temple ruins.  The relief panels on the main temple depict scenes from the Ramayana, an ancient Hindu epic poem.  Having studied this text in school before, I was delighted to be able to recognize some of the scenes from the story as I wandered around the temple complex.  It was wonderful to see the scenes from such a culturally significant text brought to life on the walls of this beautiful Hindu temple.

My final stop for the trip was Goa Jomblang.  To get into the cave, visitors have to be strapped to a harness and manually lowered down a 60m drop. The journey was exhilarating.  Around midday, sunlight filtered down into the cave and illuminated the inside with streaks of bright light.  There was an underground river flowing below us and the dappled surfaces of the limestone rocks reminded me of coral reefs.  The feeling was out of this world.

The best thing about Jogja was it’s lovely mix of history and nature.  On one hand there are the beautiful Borobudur and Prambanan temples from the 9th century, on the other, there is the towering volcano, Gunung Merapi and the beautiful caves, Goa Jomblang and Goa Pindul.

 

Visiting Jogja has opened my eyes to some of the wonders that Indonesia has to offer. I am glad that I decided to work with the IHF this summer. Otherwise, I would not have come to know the beauty that is Indonesia.

Kenya: First Impressions

By: Cao Yaqing, Work-Study Kenya

I have been in the center for four days. First I took one day to recover from the 24-hour-Blog3flight, and then I started to work. Aggie and Edita, the co-directors here, gave a tour of the center for me. There are several little houses in the Center. The work-study volunteers, voluntourists and Edita live in the same hall, little girls and bigger girls live in another, and boys, Aggie and Isabel live in the one nearest to our neighbor. We also have two fields, and staff plant corn, kale, cabbage and tomatoes on them. When I arrived there are some rabbits too. But we decide to kill them all but one (a pet for Manuel).

Things are both better and worse than I expected. Recently we have a severe shortage of water. We were using water from several big tanks. However, we have good sanitation. The staff clean the floors and tables every morning. And the bed sheets are very clean.

Blog2Our former director, Julie, left this Saturday. And all of the staffs gathered giving her a farewell party. Kids all wrote the words they want to say to her. And it’s so sweet to see the childish handwriting and little heart symbols.

The kids here, is another thing that shocked me. They have really good behavior and mature thoughts. I talked with them a lot. The secondary school students always know what they want to do and are working to achieve it. The primary school students, they are playful as usual kids, but at the same time, when I talked to them, I can’t see a difference between them and me.

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Making a Difference in Paradise

By:  Paula, Voluntourist Bali

It’s hard to put into words what this experience has meant to me.

Two girls in Zaragoza set out to spend a month away from home, discovering a new culture, a new way of living. Although the first day of volunteering was a bit harsh, it is amazing how quickly you adapt to a lifestyle completely different from your own. Perhaps because one of the best things about this experience is sharing it with people from other parts of the world, being able to support each other and being able to face all the challenges with a smile.

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset It is precisely these smiles that the children of Kampung Buitan never lose. This village is a poor area of Bali paradise where, despite not having the facilities or some opportunities like ours, people manage to find happiness in the simplest things.

We came here to teach children, and yet, we have learned values from them and an ability to overcome each day that you hardly see in our comfortable developed world.

The tasks done in the center are of vital importance, since it is responsible for providing a more consolidated education to children in a country where the education system has many faults. It is essential to provide the younger generation with a solid base on which to build a future, and maybe they will be able to change the fate of many of their families. This is why I think the role performed by the International Humanity Foundation will make a significant difference in the lives of these children.
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Bali is, in all respects, a paradise both for its scenery and the people living here, always willing to help with the prevailing philosophy of Hinduism. What caught my attention most was that all their actions are based on the Karma, they help the person next to them and with an admirable consistency. Without a doubt, kindness is inherent in all of them.

Life in the center has also allowed me to meet people from other cultures, namely China, the United States and India. I’m sure that, without that mutual support, this experience would not have been the same. We really have many anecdotes, moments of laughter, and collaboration as we prepare lessons and activities for the next day. And also some desperation while trying to guess what kind of animal made the noise that everyone heard while we were sleeping the night before.  Although we have gotten used to that too.

Surely, from this intense month I take friends, experiences and stories to tell but, above all, I take a new part of me that I’ve gotten to know and hope to keep on knowing in new projects. Projects that I hope to make such an important part of me as this has.

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Exploring Jakarta

By:  ZheWei, Work-Study Jakarta

I’ve been at the Jakarta centre for just over a week now and I’ve started to settle into the way of life here. The days are fairly simple – we work during the day, break fast in the evening and play games or tell stories afterwards. Other than the pesky mosquitoes, and a Sulawesifew cockroach scares here and there, life’s been pretty good here.

On my second day off since the start of my stay, I decided to visit the Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (trans: the Beautiful Mini Indonesia Park). When I arrived, I was immediately blown away by how huge the park was. There were a number of attractions within the park, including museums of all sorts, exhibits, theatres, and a big lake right at the center of it all. I rented an old, rickety bicycle, and set off to explore.

As I circled the park, I saw various life-sized models of traditional Indonesian dwellings. Each of them represented a region in Indonesia. There were structures of different shapes and sizes and they were all uniquely beautiful. My favorite was the traditional Sulawesi dwelling, with its curved roof and intricate detailing.

Another highlight was the Bird Park. Many of the birds were not kept within small enclosures and were allowed to roam freely within a large dome. I had fun walking into the various domes and following the different kinds of birds around, including the large storks, beautiful peacocks and the majestic hornbill.

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I was also pleasantly surprised that there was a Indonesian Hakka Museum in the park. Hakka is a Chinese dialect, and it is also used to refer to the people from that dialect group. Coming from a Hakka background, it was enlightening and comforting to read about the history of this group of people in Indonesia, many of who come from the same ancestral village as my ancestors – Fujian Yongding.

All in all, my visit to the park has made me more eager to visit other attractions around this area. I can’t wait to see more of Jakarta!

Elephants and Birthday Cake

By: Sarah, Co-Director Thailand

We had an interesting week at the center, it was Arisa’s birthday! She is now 19. Arisa’s day started with a present in front of the door of her room. At school, two different friends Smail cooked cakes for her! At midday, Jiraporn and Nupon went to Arisa’s school to take lunch to her. After school, she found some birthday balloons at the center and for dinner we ate some pizza! After that we had an Oreo ice cream cake, the kids at the center love this kind of cake. We had a nice night and Arisa was very happy with her day!

 

On Saturday we had two men repair the center roof and they were able to repair the water heater too. So now we can have hot showers and after the next big rain we will see if the repairs of the roof will really be flood proof.

On Sunday I decided to have a surprise for all the kids. This was to celebrate the birthdays of this month, the scholarships of Darid, Kantiya and Arisa ,and for Darid’s work promotion.  So we went on a day tour, although not all of them could go.

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Arisa, Kantiya and I decided to go and we had an amazing, funny and happy time. During the day, the weather was very crazy, there was very hot sun and also rain too. We went to the elephant village and rode elephants! For Arisa and I it was the first time, and we were very excited about it. Then we went to a waterfall where we took a lot of pictures and the guide took some for us with a bamboo cane selfie stick. I really love how Thai are able to transform anything to fit their needs. They have a lot of inventiveness and skill, I admire them. We finished the day in the hot springs, where we relaxed our bodies in the hot water.

It was really a wonderful week and I continue to learn a lot about Thai culture and about the amazing children we have at the center.

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The Beauty of Volunteering

By:  Ainhoa, Voluntourist Bali

Without a doubt, one of the best ways to gain access to a local community is through volunteering. I have found that volunteer work allows one to discover the essence of a

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country and to connect with its people. It is also one of the driving forces for creating change and making a positive impact in the world.

I had an absolutely fantastic time volunteering at the Bali Centre. We had the chance to do special activities with the kids, as well as help teach them English. The children are so full of warmth, so dynamic and so loving. We felt a strong connection to them and looked forward each day to seeing them again. Also, Bali in general is, beyond words, full of love. The Balinese people are among the most friendly and inviting people.
I have loved every second of this challenging job, even if at first took me a while to get used to the atmosphere.

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I have learned that people are not powerless, that everyone has a great deal of power and potential, although society sometimes is unfair, making us think we are different because of religion, economic status or sexual orientation. Also, I discovered that the kids had ultimately provided me with more lessons than I had given them.
Thank you so much to IHF for this wonderful opportunity. It was all that I hoped for and more. I do recommend the experience. It is the best way to explore Bali with opportunities that a normal traveler may not have.
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Recruitment and a Trip to Bukit Lawang

By:  Letizia, Co-Director, Medan

This last week at the center has been very quiet, but also fun!  The Ramadan holiday was not yet finished, but some students had already started coming back to the center for lessons.  The classes are not full yet, so we have started doing recruitment around the neighborhood.  We promoted the free classes at the center and let all the families know that their children have the opportunity to come to our classes to learn English, math, and computer skills.  It impressed me how many people were shocked to find that our school is free and open to everybody!  They were so enthusiastic!  This is very important, especially for the younger children, who can come to the center at an early age and have a head start gaining confidence with the language.

Another exciting thing is that we are starting to re-organize the center with many new ideas.  We have arranged a new room for co-directors and volunteers, which is not too big but very nice and has a balcony!  We are also starting also to update the archives and IMG_20160717_142808putting all our data online so we will have a more complete idea of all the students that are attending our classes and the progress of the school in general.

I have to admit though, that the most beautiful part of the week was the weekend.  Medan city is a very big and interesting city, but sometimes it makes you want to stay in a quiet and green place, discovering the wonderful Indonesian nature.  Luckily we are very close to many parks and places of a high nature interest.  One of those is the Bukit Lawang Park, where you can find opportunities for trekking and see the orangutan in their natural habitat.

This park is amazing, in the heart of the jungle but also very nice and served with all the touristic comforts.  We didn’t have the time to make an excursion to see the orangutan, but we spent all day close to the river, enjoying nature and relaxing, and getting ready for the new week ahead!
Medan and the places nearby are a continuous discovery!

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