Painting Arms and Rocks at IHF Bali!

IMG_0052By: Amanda, Co-Director

IHF Bali has two special activities per week. The activities this week kept to the same theme, paint! On Wednesday, we gathered in the outdoor classroom under the Lumbung and had a face-painting activity. Very soon we learned that the children don’t like the idea of painting their faces. It quickly turned into an arm painting activity! IMG_0038The children were able to request different designs (Frozen & Minions being very popular choices) and the directors and work-study volunteer did their best to make them happy.

Saturday saw us painting again. IHF Bali is located on a beach full of beautiful, round rocks. The children gathered some rocks from the beach and painted them. We have used the rocks to decorate the center grounds and add a splash of colour here and there. Once again, minions were a top IMG_6047design choice of our students!

The days are getting hotter here in Bali but we are lucky enough to have our shaded classroom to enjoy activities like these outdoors and still be protected from the sun.

A Musical Voluntourist and Cultural Dances at IHF Medan!

By: Sahat

A new Voluntourist visited our centre this September from the UAE. She was energetic, friendly and excited to devote her time  bettering the lives of the children at our center.  The kids at our center enjoyed her company. She played the guitar and sang songs with them. She even wrote a song for the children along with one of our local volunteers- Jenifer.

With every volunteer that comes to spend time at the centre, our children get an opportunity to learn about a new country, a new way of life, a new skill or two, knowledge about the world’s varied cultures, and the different backgrounds and experiences each individual may have. Our children look forward to meeting new people, interacting, and having a good time with them. Overall it’s an enriching experience to have new volunteers help at the centre.

Apart from this, there were singing and dance sessions held for children during September. Some of the children presented a dance sequence on one of the local Bataknese songs. They had a good time preparing it and presenting to the volunteers and teachers. Everyone appreciated their effort.


Karin of IHF Jakarta and the Wonderful World of Orangutans!

By Karin, Co-director IHF Jakarta

Working for IHF gives me the amazing opportunity to provide education for children in need and support for their families. This alone is reason enough to dedicate myself to IHF for a year as a co-director. Being able to travel Indonesia during a long weekend every month is the icing on top! For my long weekend in September, I was very excited to go see orangutans in Kalimantan, Borneo. We visited Tanjang Puting national park which holds the largest wild orangutan population in the world. From Jakarta, it is a 70 minute flight to Pangkalan Bun.

Once we landed, everyone was picked up by hired guides. It is almost impossible to set up a trip to the national park by yourself because of the remote location. As such, it is imperative to consult a tour operator. After meeting the tour guide, we were taken to the boat that was our home for the next two nights. I was very excited about this. I love boats and ours was very nice. The trip started with a boat ride a few hours down the river to the first station. This was a great time to look out over the river and the surrounding jungle. Very soon the first monkeys could be spotted , hanging out in the trees. We saw proboscis monkeys, who will definitely catch your attention with their weird long noses, among others. Crocodiles could also be seen in the water, but it was very difficult to tell the difference between a crocodile and a log floating on the water. At the first station we spent the night, having dinner on the boat. Afterwards, the crew members made room on deck and put out mattresses, pillows and mosquito nets. We were lulled to sleep by the sounds of the jungle.

The second day we finally got to see the main attraction: orangutans! We were taken in to the park and after a short walk, we reached a feeding platform in the jungle. This is the place where the orangutans are fed every day. However, it is up to them whether or not they wish to come and say hello. Unfortunately, they were not in the mood for easy bananas when we visited. Luckily, our second stop later that day provided us with our money’s worth in orangutans sightings!  First, we were surprised by Tom, the dominant male in the park ( fun fact: Tom is father to almost 70% of all the babies) who snuck up on us from behind and waited patiently for us to get out of his way. He brought one of his ladies with him and they quietly started their lunch. Later, another female showed up, with her two babies. One 3 year-old, jumping around trees like it was nothing and the other, only 1 year old, still holding on tightly.

The family spent an hour alternating between their late lunch of bananas and powered milk, and climbing up and down the trees. At 4 o’clock, everyone was asked to leave the park because the orangutans need some peace and quiet. We went back to the boat, making our way back to the harbour as we enjoyed our dinner and the last night on the water. We were pleasantly surprised when we spotted another orangutan hanging out in the trees and posing for us. After dinner, there was an option to go on a night walk to spot nocturnal animals and tarantulas as big as your fist.

On the second morning, after nasi goreng (fried rice) for breakfast, the boat took us back to the harbour. We then headed back to the airport. In total, the trip is two days and two nights. Accommodation, food and entrance to the park were all included. I had a great time on our boat, watching the monkeys and apes, relaxing and enjoying the lovely food prepared by the crew.

I definitely recommend this trip to anyone who is interested in seeing orangutans. It is obvious that in Tanjang Puting national park the well-being of all animals is a priority. Since you get to see so much of the nature and the animals in relatively short time, it makes a great destination for a long weekend trip.

Blanket Games and Hair Braiding in Nakuru

024By Julie, Executive Director Kenya and Thailand

Despite our best efforts to run extra activities such as workshops, sports competitions and Movie nights, boredom has really set in with all the kids with the extended teacher’s strike going on.  The boys have invented a tug of war game with one of our new blankets! I didn’t have the heart to tell them off as they seemed to be having such fun. In the end no harm was done.  002The girls seem to spend the time endlessly weaving and un-weaving their hair. It always amazes me how much time and money Kenyan ladies spend on their appearance (unlike me who as a typical ‘Muzunga’ treks around in baggies and a t-shirt).  However, it all looks a bit painful to me. One of my friends told me that when she has her hair braided she has a headache for a week!

003Nyoru and I have posed for a ‘selfie’.  Last year Nyoru was quite hard work, as she struggled facing some of the challenges of becoming a teenager.  She has come through it now and is back on track. In fact, she has become one of my favourite girls. I think all the work I had to put in with her and the reward of seeing her blossom has made us very close.

Learning how to Save a Life at IHF Bali!

By Virginia, Voluntourist

IMG_5677After a morning visiting the Tirita Gangga Water Palace with Laura, it was time to head back to the center. As it was Wednesday, it was time to run a special activity. We had to
get back to give the children a lesson in First Aid!

The premise of the class was to talk the children through a scenario where they discover someone unconscious on the beach. We used Amanda as our example. Though she was simply on a table, she was represented someone IMG_5690lying on the beach and seemingly unconscious. We spent a couple of hours going through different scenarios like this. At the end the children knew who to call during this type of situation and how to do basic CPR. We introduced them to the song “Staying Alive” and had them practice their cardiac massages to the beat.

After the children all practiced on Amanda, everyone had a chance to be “doctor” or “patient”.

IMG_5693Even if they didn’t perfectly
remember all the actions to do in the right order, they tried hard and paid attention to what we were demonstrating. In the end, we were satisfied of the
results: we were able to speak about something important between laughter and games.

New Desks Enhance Jakarta Center!

photo 1By Alice, co-director IHF Jakarta

Our Jakarta center is finally starting to settle into a routine again after the arrival of our new co-director Gabby. Vlad, our previous co-director transferred to the Aceh center.

The weather in Jakarta has been extremely hot this week, which has left a heavy slow feeling over the whole city. However, this feeling never lasts at our center! photo 2From around 1:00 PM when kids stream into the center, until our last class which ends around 8 PM, IHF Jakarta is full to the brim with energy. No matter how ‘normal’ a week at the center is, it’s never quiet. There are always new registrations, parents question’s to answer, new exciting activities to plan and kids bouncing around between classes.

photo 3Most notably this week however, was the delivery of brand new desks to our center! These beautiful desks replaced ones which were starting to fall apart after years of daily use by IHF students. The new desks were extremely well received by the students and co-directors.  All of us are always excited to see new additions around the center!

Over the past few weeks, several new local volunteers have started at our center. We have had a great response rate to our advertisements for math teachers, and it is heart-warming to see the locals work so strongly with IHF to deliver much needed education to the less fortunate in their community.

Julie goes on a Trip and our Maize Continues to Amaze in Nakuru!

By Julie, Executive Director Thailand and Kenya

The maize harvest has been amazing so far this year. The back-breaking work of putting the maize in and out of the store every day to dry continues to keep me fit.  All of our neighbours are in awe of our crop. This satisfies me greatly as I have only been farming at the centre for three years. I’m sure that the maize is going to last us through the dry
season and right into next year. This will assist us greatly in feeding the children.

sadfghjI also had the opportunity tp take a short break and travel to Uganda. It’s easy and cheap (about $20) to get from Nakuru to Kampala by bus. The trip takes about 12 hours. I chose to take the day bus so that I could see the scenery. Looking out the window and seeing the tea plantations near Kericho was a delight.

My adventure also took me to  Jinja, which kjhgfdis the source of the Nile. I enjoyed seeing the varied wildlife inhabiting the area. The huge colony of bats, water birds and the reptiles were most intriguing to me.

A friend suggested to visit the Sesse Islands in the middle of Lake Victoria. The trip by ferry from Entebbe was erghjkiamazing, and the islands were some of the most serene I have visited.

It was great to know that such amazing locations are just a day’s journey from the IHF centre in Nakuru. And of course, I loved the warm welcome by all the centre children upon my return home.

New Arrival at Chiang Rai!

By Cheryl , Co-Director
I arrived at the Chiang Rai center last week to an incredibly warm welcome from both the co-directors Laura and Ushmi and the children. It was wonderful to finally meet everyone and get settled into my new home. We all had lots of fun in the process – cooking, chatting and getting to know each other!

gkgkgkgEven though there is always so much to do and experience at the center, I already feel like I have learned so much. For example, the other morning I decided to make everyone banana smoothies for breakfast.  Very quickly I discovered that smoothies are not a very popular breakfast in Thailand… Whoops!

Luckily our lovely local volunteer Ari came to rescue that evening with an incredible Thai-banquet for us all to enjoy. It was absolutely delicious! All was forgiven.

Next week is exam week. All the ajajajajachildren have been working hard, especially Darid and Kantya, as they both have major projects to complete. Jiraporn has also been extra-busy attending English competitions in Chiang Mai. She is the best English student in her class! And Chichiporn, her sister, has been taking extra English lessons with Ushmi. She seems set to follow in her sister’s footsteps. I am sure everyone will do fantastic considering how hard everyone has been studying.

shshshshsAlthough it has only been a couple of weeks, I am already looking forward to spending a year here in Thailand.
This is my first NGO-based experience. I am incredibly inspired by the people and the possibilities I have already met through my role as co-director, and am excited about those still might encounter. This will undoubtedly be one very special and unforgettable adventure!

A Musical Saturday

BMUSIC (1)y Laura, Work-Study

Our special activity last week has been one of my favorite experiences in Bali. We borrowed instruments from our neighbors and spent the early hours of the afternoon singing songs and making a lot of noise! It was amazing to see the students progress from listening shyly to gaining the courage to play the instruments themselves.MUSIC

Two students in particular, Dicky and Yoga, really blew us all away. Towards the end of the activity, they sat down in front of some bongos and started playing like professionals! This activity took away the language barrier separating us. Through their engagement with the music, I was really able to see the characters of some of the shyer children.

The Art of Teaching

By Sahat, Co-Director IHF Medan

One of our local teachers, Jenifer, has a beautiful art of teachingArt class. Every day at the center, she makes sure that her classes’ are a great performance. She really has a pure heart for teaching children and maintains positive interactions with the kids. This works to build the relationship between them all. She is still young, being only 16 years of age, but she never loses a chance to prepare a better learning experience. Jenifer creates classroom activities and games to make learning come alive for our children.

This week, she decided upon watching a video. Attentively watching English movies and television programs is one of the best ways to increase listening skills.
Jenifer and her students all watched together. There are so many things that the children can pick up from this kind of programming, which expands their understanding of Jenifer with her studentsgrammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. Jennifer says that the children were able to catch a lot of the words spoken by the characters in the film. We are so proud of them!

It is very important for us to create engaging educational games and minimize boredom in the classroom. One thing that we always try to incorporate into our teaching at the center is drawing. As such, this was one program that was organized for the children this week. We held an art class for our SD2 English students which functioned as a catalyst for the children to explore their creativity. The children created wonderful pieces of artwork and seemed to enjoy themselves greatly. They sported joyful expressions on their faces throughout this fun educational activity.


On a final note, Dustin, a co-director from IHF Aceh center, visited us here at Medan. He recently finished his long term volunteering with IHF. Lissa and I spent some hours with him before he began his journey to Thailand and then the United States. We relaxed, chatted and had a lovely lunch at the center as we said our farewells. It such a great experience to meet him face to face and talk more about life in terms of international volunteering.

Best of luck Dustin!