A Volunteer’s odyssey

A while ago I decided to take one year off from my job as a teacher in Belgium.  I wanted to explore the world, see beautiful beaches and green rice paddies.  But most of all I wanted to learn more about other countries and cultures.

My parents and some of my friends were a bit skeptic: ‘Isn’t it unsafe for a woman to travel by herself?   What if you get sick? There’s no one to take care of you!” … Of course they were just worried, but there was no way I would let their fear stop me.  In August I left on my big trip: 7 months backpacking through South-East Asia.    So far this has been the most wonderful experience in my life!IMG_0759

However, while I was travelling through these beautiful countries, I saw a lot of poverty: people struggling to make a living, kids begging in the streets, homeless people,… This made me realise how fortunate I am and I wanted to do something meaningful while I was here.

So when I was on Bali I started checking some internet forums and found the website of IHF.  After reading the information, looking at the pictures and reading some blog reports, I decided this was exactly the kind of organisation I was looking for!

5 days ago I arrived in the center in Jakarta.  I was so excited about meeting the kids and the other volunteers!  Tess showed me around and explained how everything worked.  The center really feels like a home and I’m happy to have my own room!
I immediately started teaching the next day: the kids are so enthusiastic (and very loud too J).  It’s not always easy for me to explain things, because I speak no Bahasa whatsoever.  But the kids really try to understand me and with a lot of non-verbal communication, using pictures and drawing things on the whiteboard, everything works out quite fine.  IMG_0764

I am very fortunate to be surrounded by people with a good heart who really try to make a difference in many kids’ lives: a lot of local volunteers (such as Zefanya and Shella) help out teaching classes, Ayu is always working for IHF (and yesterday she even went to a slum to teach English there), Tess, Arnau and Tibo are spending a lot of time with the kids, put a great effort in the administrative work as well and are always trying to find ways to improve,…

I am really looking forward to live and work with these people the next two weeks and to have a lot of fun with all the kids in my classes!!

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