My year with IHF

Written by Annisa, local volunteer, Bali

When I got a job and moved to Buitan last year, I decided to volunteer with an organization near my workplace. When I applied, I thought I would just do it to kill the time after work. But that changed. After almost a year at IHF Bali Centre, this is what I learnt as a local volunteer teaching computer class:

  1. Share whatever you know, even a little bit. I thought I would teach English as this was the only skill I have that I thought I could share. When Alice, the Bali Co-Director at that time, told me that they didn’t have computer teacher, I doubted that I could be one. My IT skills were limited to what I used in college 5 years ago – mostly writing essays in Word. I didn’t even have a personal computer for a few years after graduation. But IHF gave me a chance to teach things that I thought everyone basically could do – very basic computer skill, basic translation, and how to ride scooter as many other volunteers did not know how (this also needs a lesson plan). So you don’t have to be genius or be super talented to contribute. When my senior students, whom at the beginning couldn’t switch on a laptop, could finally make presentation with PowerPoint, I felt like a superstar.20160820_151135
  1. Being grateful for what I have. I grew up in a small city where infrastructure and facilities were pretty much available. But when I came to volunteer here in Bali, I realized that there was a gap of education quality in comparison to where I grew up – a city in Java. Education was of better quality, and there were more options of what we could study at school. This is a reminder for me, for those who read this and I hope also for the government, to make it equal in the cities and villages throughout Indonesia.  If I never volunteered with IHF and experienced this gap myself – the reality that the kids here didn’t have the same privileges – I might not care about this issue so seriously.20160319_135954
  1. The main reason why I kept coming till the end of my stay in Buitan because being an adult all the time is boring but getting loose with the kids is fun. Being an adult means we have to be mature and serious in the things that we do (study, work, and our relationships). I can’t do certain things because it will make me look childish. When I hang out with the kids, it is one of the only the time I can be silly and be me: play chase and run (the kids will help you burn calories) then scream while getting caught, act as a vegetable or goat, transform trash into toys, and discuss imaginary situations rather than thoughtful problems that sometimes be exhausting. I don’t think of reputation or image the way some adults do. I like how children don’t care about winning or losing in a game. You are special if you are teaseable and willing to be part of the game. The children only care if what you do can create a lot of laugh or not.  Something that rarely exist in adult world where the goal of a competition is to win regardless if you enjoy it or not. Kids also never overanalyze things. For example, once we had chips and ice cream. They just eat them together because they want to know if it taste good or not. An adult will analyze first if the taste matched or not, and if they’ve been told that it doesn’t taste good, many of then will believe it without even trying.20161203_145236
  1. In IHF you can meet amazing adults too. I am amazed to see their dedication of time, money, and energy to help kids in a foreign country – kids that cannot even speak their language and have different customs than their own. They said they are looking for experience. Then, I admire them more for choosing the experience which benefit others. It’s inspiring and motivating to hear their purpose to help others. My biggest appreciation are for the co-directors who work very hard to run the centre and take care of us – volunteers and kids. Because it is an international organization, it means people are coming from different part of the world. This sounds cliche, but It always nice to learn about other people’s habits and culture (the good and bad).20160213_144715
  1. Money isn’t the only reward for work. What I get from volunteering in IHF is nothing material. Beside the superstar feeling which I felt sometimes, I received a lot of love here. It is natural, not pretentious. If the kids love you, they really do. When you leave, the love will fade. They love you as you are during the time they spend with you – not as an idea or memory. For me, that is a real kind of love.20161203_130800

I know people are talking about volunteering to make a difference. To be honest, my time in IHF probably made more of a difference in my life than the kids’.


Just Pass It On!

Written by Agata, Co-Director, Bali

The day started extremely busy. We rolled up our sleeves and got to work. We wanted to make sure that everything would be ready before the kids show up. We set up the tables and cleaned up the floor, checked the certificates and the prizes just to make sure that we would have enough for everyone. Today no kid could leave the center empty-handed. This day was supposed to be a celebration of their hard work, and after this semester they all deserved a prize. We were just in the middle of setting up the balloons when the first little guests showed up. A few kids from SD4 decided to come earlier to check on us. When they saw the balloons it became clear to us that they are not leaving the center anytime soon. But they were a great help, not saving their lungs and hands to help us with inflating the balloons and hanging them around the center.

SD6 kids made their entrance around 11:30 am. As usual, their presence was associated with pranks and trouble, so we have tried to occupy them with a few youtube videos just to buy us enough time to prepare some snacks. As you can read: we were prepared for all the circumstances! By 12:30 pm, the center was already filled with kids, but we were all set and prepared. Even weather (rain, rain, and rain!) strangely worked in our favor gathering everybody inside. At 13:00 sharp, we started the fun part of the day!


Firstly, we handed out the prizes. Starting from SD1, we asked each class to step forward. We honored the children who had the best scores on their exams. Then we handed out the small gifts for the rest of the students. After the official part, the games were on! Among others, our students sang, ate crackers without using their hands and pretended to be different kinds of animals. At the same time, some of them were discovering their manual talents making friendship bracelets.


Later, we continued our celebrations with snacks and drinks. After all, we all deserved a little treat. Finally, our Juniors students came up with an idea to record our version of the Mannequin Challenge with the kids that were still at the center! It was incredible to watch their commitment to getting it right: we had to take several takes and guess what… The volunteers wanted to quit after the second, but the students didn’t let us rest till we had the best video possible.

That was a day filled with laughter and fun! Our kids were very happy at the end of the day. And the volunteers? Well, they say that a picture says more than a thousand words, so:


Exploring Bali as a voluntourist

Written by: Eva, Voluntourist, Bali

My name is Eva, I’m a 53 years old teacher from Switzerland and I currently work at IHF Bali for four weeks as a voluntourist. When I arrived at the center, I was surprised that it’s located between a small Hindu and a small Muslim village. So every day I smell the smoke of the temple fire donations, and I hear the muezzin singing. I like that.


After my first shock of my unfriendly bath and sleeping room, I was happy, that at least the kids have very nice classrooms with a nice view of the fields and the sea. And I’m also happy with our cook Sari – she is cooking very traditional food, mostly vegetarian, and although I like to eat meat and fish, every day I’m looking forward to her menu.

The teachers at the center work in similar ways as the teachers in Europe, supported by computers and wifi. That’s great – both are a part of the daily kid’s world. I’m teaching history and German in a Swiss High School, and I was a little bit nervous about my first team-teaching lesson. But it worked very well.

As a voluntourist, I love to explore Bali. I rented a motorbike, and the first trip I did was to Pura Besakih, the Indonesian „mother temple”. Driving through the landscape was so amazing and fantastic!


During my second trip, I spent exited hours in Bali Aga Village in Tenganan, only ten minutes from IHF Bali Center. It’s a kind of museum village, where guests have to pay a donation for entrance. The village looks very traditional, and I was watching how the inhabitants prepare a wedding for the next day. The women rasp coconuts and make coconut soup; the men cut herbs and chili and slaughter pigs. I liked to watch it, even it was sometimes hard.


On Saturday we had a special activity: Yoga! Me and the kids liked it a lot. On Sunday I was in Ubud, for rice terraces, culture, and River Rafting.

Learning to Teach

Written by: Kari, Voluntourist, Bali

My volunteer position is unlike any other position for IHF. I was partnered with IHF through a program called Accounting for International Development, an organization based out of the UK that partners accountants with nonprofit organizations in developing countries. This means that I am working with IHF as more of a consultant rather than a volunteer teacher. I look at the behind the scenes side of how the organization runs. Even though my role is a little different, living and working at the Bali Center puts my right in the action with all the kids and other volunteers.



We have a large dining table in the downstairs area of the main house at the Bali Center. This is where I sit, along with the other volunteers, to complete most of my work on my computer. I work with Clara, the Co-Director in charge of finance, on day to day finances, and I am also in constant contact with other Co-Directors at all the Centers, as well as, Arnau, the Executive Director. Each day starting at around noon the students begin to fill the center with the sounds of laughter, playing and if you listen carefully, evening the learning happening upstairs in the classroom. Since IHF is an organization based around helping support these student’s education, I also try to help out teaching whenever I am needed. To be honest working with the student is a nice break from the numbers and computer work.


This past week I played substitute teacher for an SD 6 class at the Bali Center. Being an accountant, numbers are my specialty not grammar. Therefore, before teaching I had to review the lesson plan prepared for class to make sure I wasn’t going to teach the students anything incorrectly. I was a little nervous going into the class, but the students were welcoming, cheerful and helpful when I needed help explaining things in Bahasa. We reviewed adverbs for the week, and had a blast making up sentences with all the adverbs they had learned. It wasn’t long before the students and I were joking and playing throughout the lesson.

This week I was honored and excited that the students asked about me when their regular teacher was back to teaching their class. I poked my head into class to say hi, and was welcomed by many smiling faces and cheerful hellos! We sang a round of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” as they seem to love when I do the actions that go along with the song. I am glad I got the opportunity while I am here to work with the students. My role here is removed from directly working with the kids, therefore, it was rewarding and heartwarming experience to be part of helping these students out. It may have only been a few days of teaching, but it helped to remind me just what IHF is all about, helping students have a brighter future.

My First Weeks in Bali

Written by Kari, Voluntourist, Bali

I arrived to IHF Bali Center on the evening of Saturday October 1st. The center was very quiet since only the co-directors were living, the other volunteers had gone home the previous day. Agata, one of the co-directors, was very accommodating and showed me around the center, and gave me a quick tour of Buitan Village where the center is located. I was exhausted from traveling all the way from Chicago, IL so I called it a night after the tour.


The next morning, I awoke to the noise of all the creatures that live with us at the center; lizards, mice, birds, bugs etc. It was Sunday, everyone’s day off, so the center was very quiet. I would quickly learn during the week the center is not normally a quiet place, but full of the sounds of kids playing downstairs and learning upstairs in their classes upstairs. I am not volunteering in the traditional teacher role at IHF, but instead I am helping with the accounting and finance side of the organization. Therefore, I do not have as much contact with the kids as other volunteers. The kids bring a fun and light energy to the center that breaks up my day on the computer. I am trying to interact with the kids even though I am not teaching. I even helped to prepare a special activity for the kids one day. We made Sharks.


Bali Center is great not only for the support they give the community, but also for its location and all the amazing activities the island has to offer. In the two weeks that I have been in Bali, I have already learned how to scuba dive and climbed a volcano. Agata joined me for the climbing of the volcano. We left the center at 2am in the morning to arrive at the base of Mt. Batur by 4am. It was steep climb to the top, but we arrived with plenty of time before the sunrise. Based on the normal heat and humidity at the center, I would have never guessed I would feel cold in the all of the 2 months I plan to stay in Bali, but I was freezing at the top of the mountain. We enjoyed a hot coffee while waiting for the sunrise. A little shivering was worth the beautiful sunrise we saw.

I have six weeks left in my stay at the Bali Center. I am very excited to continue to learn about IHF Bali and the community surrounding the center. I am excited to continue to get to know the students who attend classes, and to explore more of this beautiful island.


The End of an Adventure!

Written by Laura and Jessica, Voluntourists, Bali

We are Laura and Jessica, two Spanish friends from Barcelona. Today is our last day in IHF Bali Center and we would like to summarize our two weeks here. Our first week was focused on adaptation. It was hard for us because of so many changes and new things to learn. But after all, we successfully overcame all of the obstacles!


This week we had plenty of activities in the center. We’ve almost attended all the classes and we have led three of them! On Wednesday we prepared a special activity for the children – “Table Games”. We introduced them to some famous Spanish games. First, kids had to draw their own “parchis”. They are very smart and draw two boards very quickly, without any problem! After that, we explained the rules of the game to everyone. Then, we split into two groups and played the game.We also prepared SD3 class with Agata’s help. She has been our reference at the center. If we had any problems she was always there to help and answer our doubts.

fullsizerender_2 For this class, we made some flashcards of different kinds of food. We enjoyed drawing and preparing them for the kids! Finally, we taught Junior class with Clara. It was focused on listening comprehension – students had to listen to a song and then fill in the gaps in the worksheet. It was a busy day, but it was a real joy for us to help as much as possible!

We’ve had a great time on Bali, balancing our time between the center and exploration of the island. For us, Bali has been amazing! This island is wonderful and people here are very kind and respectful. We really appreciated their peaceful and joyful lifestyle. They have a smile for everybody!


The end of this adventure is coming, just a few hours before we have to leave the center. We think that it would have been better to stay longer than 2 weeks. We were just starting to feel confident with the students and the lessons. It’s a pity to leave now! We hope that the children have learnt something from us, for sure we have learnt a lot from them! They are really smart kids with a lot of energy!

Now we have to say goodbye, but we will always have Bali in our hearts!

A new experience with IHF in Bali!

By: Xinyu, Voluntourist Bali.

I arrived to Bali at midnight of September 15th, 2016.

Since it is too late for the center co-director to pick me up from the airport, I checked into a hotel nearby the airport. I was really excited about this trip and I kept imagining the IHF Centre I was about to visit tomorrow. Finally, at about 12 a.m. the next day, Agus and Manna arrived at the hotel to pick me up. Manna was really kind. She shared her experience of volunteering here with me and was patient enough to answer all my questions. On my way to the center I already felt welcome on Bali. Manna also took me to a store to buy a few things I needed.

This was the first sight I saw when I arrived at the IHF Bali center. The center is set up close to the beach and it is very beautiful: 3107fe0f0a11d06c

On reaching the center, I met Agata, Clara and David, the co-directors of IHF Bali, and few children drawing and plaing in the house at that time. They were really cute!

In the afternoon of my first day of volunteering we did many activities. We played hide and seek with the kids amongst other activities. I found it was very easy to get along with all of the kids, even though we come from different countries. I love BALI, and I am enjoying my volunteering days here, but there is one challenge I need to face every day – I am totally scared of lizards, frogs and bugs. Actually, I was crying on the first night, because I was scared by a lizard. Agata helps me a lot, we are living in the same house, her room is just opposite of my room. She told me not to be afraid, because none of those animals will hurt me. She is kind and make me feel welcome.

2d10f9110a419a78On the first day of classes, I gained a new experience. I met a lot of kids from different grades and classes. I tried to memorize their names at the beginning, but it’s hard. Students are like a little angels, kind and warm in their own style. They work hard trying to memorize every word Manna brings to them. We also play English board games. They come to me whenever they don’t understand something. I try my best to help them do some of their class work.

I feel that I made a good choice to volunteer here with IHF in Bali. It’s a fresh and beautiful experience for me.

I am in love with Bali and I am very much enjoying volunteering here.

Discovering myself at IHF!

Blog post by Mengjie, WS Volunteer, Bali.

This is my second week at the IHF Bali center, I’m very happy that I made the decision of coming here. Even though we never knew each other, the kids gave me the best welcome I’ve ever had. They are so zealous and have enthusiastic! At first, I thought it would be hard for me to even remember their names, but now I am familiar with all the kids , their characteristics and fortes. Everything just happened naturally.     img_2810

The kids are always curious and passionate to learn something. They are naughty sometimes, but they do know when to stop. Most of times, they just do that to play with you. They have even took the role of being my teacher! They taught me two magic tricks and how to make a flower using tissue paper. I learned so much from them and the environment at the center makes me a happy and seems to convince that life is so easy!


Living  here is very different from living in the cites, In the latter, There are so many not so important things that become very important to us – Branded apparel, A Big House, Make up, which turns out to be unnecessary once you get here. The kids love and respect you for who you are. You can definitely throw those things you find hard to give up there. It feels good to be here and one should definitely experience life at IHF,  I am sure it will be one of the most wonderful memories in your life.

img_2844 And since this is my second week here, I started teaching. Writing lesson plan is a new experience for me. My co-director here keeps giving me some great advice on how to make it more understandable and easy for the kids to absorb the lesson. What’s more?  The way IHF staff work and communicate through internet efficiently is worth learning. All the files in the drives are clearly sorted and  spreadsheets are clear and helpful. It’s a pity that as a voluntourist I can’t do those online work, but overall I enjoyed my time so much and think this is a wonderful experience being a volunteer in IHF center.

Adapting to IHF Bali

By:  Anabel, Voluntourist Bali

My name is Anabel, I’m from Barcelona and I’ve been a voluntourist in IHF center in Bali for two weeks.  The first week passed quickly, just getting used to the house, the other volunteers, the co-directors and the kids.
At the beginning, everything was strange and not great in the center. Children are all from different ages, have different interests and difficult names that seemed impossible for me to learn. In addition, it was raining during the first days so it was dark by 6 pm. I was with seven other volunteers and felt that there was not much to do.However, same as the weather, things brightened up. In a few days I got used to my new room and shared spaces in the house, the food and my colleagues. Also, I started to feel less scared of the Balinese creatures living in the garden and around, such as the geckos. Most of the children came often to the center and I learned some of their names and ages. I realized that the children like painting and playing cards, while the teenagers prefer staying around by themselves. All of them like making shapes with paper, something that my Chinese colleagues were very good at and could teach them.

Regarding the English classes, I became more comfortable after the first one. At the beginning I had only two classes with same group each week. Fortunately, in my second week I had the opportunity to do some classes with other groups, as one of the co-directors was gone and also I assisted in the computer classes. The more I was with the kids, the more ideas of games and activities came to my mind.  Also I felt that they were more comfortable to see me around and some even knew my name.  It was a very rewarding experience.

When I was starting to have a daily routine in IHF in Bali, it was time to leave. I wish to have stayed longer to spend more time with the children and know more about them and their lives.  I think IHF is doing a great job in Bali and I’m happy to have been part of it at least for a few weeks!


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!