Getting to know the neighbourhood: The Hindu Street

by Elisa, Voluntourist, IHF Bali

After finding my place in the center and gaining some consciousness of the surroundings of the village, I decided to go around the neighborhood where IHF Bali is located. There are two main streets in Buitan eachd of them marked by their religion: the Hindu and the Muslim street.

I decided to start a research about the way of life of the Hindu families of the village and how IHF is helping them, so that. Another IHF volunteer, Carlos, helped me to introduce myself to the families. He has been already living here for 5 months, and he is so close to the community.

This is how I discover Yaya’s house and her life. Yaya is a 8 year- old student from Buitan who attends the center regularly. As soon as Yaya’s mother, Putu (which is the name used for the first-born in Balinese Hindu families) saw us, she invited us to come in. I was impressed about Yaya’s house because her whole family lives there: grandparents, siblings, uncles.. At first, I wondered how it would be possible to get some words out of the conversation from the local people, but the reality is that some of them are able to maintain basic conversations in English. That is because some of them realized long time ago the importance of English language in Indonesia, particularly in Bali. Truly, working for the tourism sector in Bali is regarded as the best of the options here and the most profitable way of making a living. That is why IHF can play such an important role in children lives.

We reached Yaya’s house and we took our shoes off as we got inside as a domestic ritual before entering in any Hindu house, and as a way to honor the Gods (don’t forget we can find a temple in every Hindu house).c

The first I asked Yaya’s mother was about what she thought about IHF center, if she considered it more like an educational or rather an entertaining center. She was absolutely aware of the contribution of the center to the English knowledge of Yaya. She thinks that the good thing is that the kids are learning while they are having fun, and the fact that they are spending time with volunteers from all around the world it helps to raise their English level. The children in Bali start English Lessons at regular school at the age of 9-10 years old. However, Yaya is only 8 years old and she already has a basic knowledge of the language. How advantageous sounds that, right?

Her mother is so proud of Yaya’s learning at the IHF foundation and so aware of the importance of English. She sees how she is learning every day, “if you speak English you can get a better job. English a4and computer are so important nowadays” she said. It seems to be a plus, given the high cost of the university here. “It is so difficult to join the university here; you need to save lots of money for years (…). Also, there are no helps or grants provided by the government no matter how intelligent the student is”.

When I was a child I wanted to become an astronaut (surely because of the cartoons I used to watch at that time). What would Yaya like to become when she grows up?-I asked Yaya’s mother. “Well, she would like to work in a spa, give some massage, like her aunt”-she replied me. “But I would like her to get out of Bali, get a job with computers”. I really hope Yaya will attend the university because she has great capacities. Fortunately, her mother is aware of the English and she work as cooking instructor. Also, her father is a taxi driver, so they encourage her daughter to learn English and attend the center regularly. However, there are other children whose parents just do not feel that motivated to do so, or maybe they are just not aware enough. Maybe they don’t have time to control their children´s progress, so I can tell Yaya is a fortunate girl.


Later that, I decided to get a massage a few meters away from Yaya’s house so I could clear my mind up. There are two mothers of our students working there. After the pleasant hour of massage I asked them about their vision of the center. “My daughter goes everyday there, also when she does not have class, so that she can speak English with the volunteers there”- Kadek’s (Yaya’s classmate in SD2) mother told me. What is the best job you can dream of here? I was curious to know. “Everybody here wants to work for the government, but that is not easy you need to have plenty of money. Apart from that (and maybe more a realistic thing), everyone wants to become supervisor in a hotel in Kuta (the most touristic place in the island).

After the conversations with the families I got some things clear: the importance of English to get a better job and increase the quality of life. But also the great impact and help that this type of foundations can have on the communities.

What to expect from IHF Banda Aceh?

by Balbine & Jonathan, Voluntourist, IHF Banda Aceh

As we flew into Banda Aceh our anticipation grew about the upcoming seven days and what was in store. Were the affects of the Boxing Day tsunami still visibly apparent? Was civil unrest still brewing in areas around the city? Wouidulfitri-152ld Shariah law be as prevalent and as strict as countless people had cautioned us it would be? More importantly, how would the rich yet tragic history of Banda Aceh manifest itself in the lives of the children and families we would be meeting and working with? Needless to say, we were a tad uncertain and not quite up to date with all of our info.

As we soon found out, the information people are quick to take as fact about Aceh, is often dismissible and often outdated. When we arrived at the center we were told that it was the last week of Ramadan, a time of intense prayer, fasting, and reflection, as well as a time of celebration for the majority Muslim community. Many kids spend this time with family observing the holiday traditions and as a result, there are very few children who come to the IHF center during this time. However, the days students were present at the center as well as former students, were days filled with an eagerness for learning, the likes of which we had never quite seen before. Not only were students interested in practicing as much English as possible, they were also interested in asking questions about our American culture as well as sharing their Indonesian culture (specifically Aechenes) and language with us. The environment provided through IHF for this cross cultural learning is the greatest thing we experienced and will take with us as volunteers. The center in Banda Aceh felt less like a classroom and more like a family room, where bonding between volunteers, local volunteers, and students could develop quickly and meaningfully. Ultimately, the past decade had not seemed to deflate the academic goals or overall outlook students had on the world.idulfitri-121

Through this shared experience that developed between us and the local people we met, we were able to get an amazing feel for what Acehenes society and living is all about. We were invited to multiple dinner celebrations for Ramadan with families of students as well as families of local volunteers. Through the friends we made during our brief week, we saw firsthand what living in Banda Aceh was really about. To us it seemed the locals are hard working people in a tight knit, interactive community who share a common history that binds them to the past, yet motivates them to create a better future. The sincere generosity, hospitality, and caring of those in Banda Aceh are as much if not more a part of the city as the recent history and rumors that surround it. In all, this was a truly amazing experience that we would recommend to anyone looking to step outside their comfort zone with a willingness to learn about a very unique culture and the interactions that take place between people of separate and distinct backgrounds.

The best birthday present ever

by Muxin, IHF Chiang Rai Voluntourist

After spending only two weeks at the center, we already feel like a part of the family. The children have so much love to share. Although they are not so expressive, it is the little things they dao unexpectedly that make my heart melt.

I was very lucky to spend my 18th birthday at the center. I had a beautiful day enjoying the treats that Chiang Rai has to offer. Although I suffered an ice cream-overload, it was a day I will never forget. Turning 18 at IHF has been the best present I could ever ask for. It has not only shown me the love and care that the human race has for each other no matter where you come from, but it has given me the experience of a lifetime – one that will continue to live with me for the rest of my life.

When the taxi arrived to fetch us to the airport, I was sad to say goodbye, but happy to have had the chance to meet these beautiful people, live with them, share memories and be a part of their precious lives for this moment.



An unforgettable break from University

by Sahat, Co-Director, IHF Medan

This month we got a few student voluntourists from The University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC), who stayed for two weeks at the center. They benefited the children greatly during their stay. They taught Mandarin and Spanish, played games with the children, held origami sessions, made posters in Chinese, and shared with the children about their life exper11222730_855957824474022_1359955543527977165_oiences. The children were very happy to attend the Mandarin classes, as our Medan center had been eagerly awaiting their arrival. This class was well-attended, with almost 30 students ranging from SD1 to SD6 (Grades 1-6). The children were very engaged even when the volunteers conducted a quiz after the lesson. The volunteers also gave some small prizes to the children11731950_855957844474020_8033295286607673986_o in order to raise their motivation. They also sang a nice song called “I LOVE YOU” along with the volunteers, with dance and gestures. This song conveyed the meaning that we are a family and we love each other. Apart from this, we also had La Clase de Espanol, which was conducted by Yun Tian for the senior and junior students. They learnt how to count and say basic greetings. During the last session, the students also had a small conversation in a group. It was very interesting because the children could practice their Spanish and gain new knowledge about the language.

by Marcus, Estrella and Even, Voluntourist, IHF Medan

As soon as we arrived at the center, we were deeply moved by everyone’s passion and enthusiasm. We conversed a lot about the journey and the lounnamedcal weather. Staying here and chatting with them was really unforgettable for us.

On Friday we arranged a Mandarin class for the students in primary school. All of them were totally engaged in the class and they were able to answer the questions with no hesitation, which really exceeded our expectations.

After the Mandarin class, we made a poster with Arabic and Chinese numbers on it to decorate the center. Additionally, we helped with the attendance name list.
It was a memorable week in the Medan center. We are looking forward to another busy but enriching week here.

Chinese Class

Our two-weeks volunteering at IHF’s Medan center will always remain a wonderful memory in our lives.

Working Hard at IHF Nakuru Center!

by Shuang, Lei and Tingting, Voluntourist, IHF Kenya

On the first day, we helped the director paint a spare house. It was my firskenya5t time doing this job, so I felt very excited. At first I thought that painting a house was similar to drawing a picture, but when the work actually began, I realized that I was totally wrong. Special skills are needed when using the brushes. If you only apply a little strength, it will not work. The paint also easily splashed on our clothes, so after the work, all our clothes and hands were covered by it. Although the work was not so easy, we enjoyed it a lot, and we look forward to the day when children come to live in the house.

Not every kid always has fun on the wekenya22ekends; some older ones are often busy with schoolwork. Nelson Apura, who is 18 years old, spent a whole day studying. He kept silent all day and paid full attention to his work. Even though he was surrounded by the noise of the other children, he kept focused on the exercise book.
“You always work hard, right?” I asked him.
“Yeah…this is my last year in the center,” he said with sadness in his eyes, “and I am preparing for university.”
I am not sure what he is sad about. Maybe he is worried kenya4about what university might be like, or maybe he knows he will feel lonely when he leaves the home. But I am sure that he is cherishing every moment spent in the center. He probably has very little time to play with the younger kids, because of the huge responsibility. According to him, he must try his best to get a B+ in the final examination. If that happens, he can save a tremendous amount of money on his university fees.
He kept asking for help for Mathematics and Physics. He complained that some questions would be asked in the final test, but the teachers never taught him how to answer them. I tried my best to answer his questions. However, there are many others like him, in a similarly tough situation, who need more academic help.

We worked on the beans these past fekenya3w days, and we found it interesting despite the strong heat from the sun. The kids use a batten to beat against a pile of dried beans, and place the beans with the cortices in a plate. Later they shake the plate so that only beans are left inside. That’s really a clever method. I think beans are the main food in the center and we eat them for lunch every day, so it’s important to get rid of the cortices and other things like tiny stones, in case they hurt everybody’s teeth. Anyway, it was our first time working with the beans, and we really had a lot of fun with it.

From Mozambique to Banda Aceh!

by Denise, Work-Study, IHF Banda Aceh

I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived in Banda aceh, but my first impressions were all positive , the locals volunteers who managed to pick me up at the airport were very friendly and chatty  and from that moment I knew that I was at the right place with the right people. When I got at the centre I met all the Co-Directors and international volunteers, a few students and some local volunteers , they were all very welcoming and made me feel part of this awesome family !!!

I was instructed to teach the SD2 and SD5, we had fun Eacenglish and Portuguese classes, In the beginning the children were very shy, but after a few days they were already more comfortable with me and started asking many, many questions  it was easy to get attached to them, they are all very cute, very smart and full of energy, always up for some extra activity and games, specially to play Uno cards (our favorite game). In the end of the day I wasn’t only teaching, I was also learning with them every day.

The children always want to participate in the “making off” of our activities, so they helped me and Sushi with the Mozambican Day poster and I was surprised with their abilities to draw and paint, as they always do their best, the poster came out very colorful and pretty  . I had the opportunity to talk about my country and share a little a bit of the Mozambican reality with the children who didn’t want to stop playing to pay attention to my presentation but once I started they got into it and participate actively.

Beside bonding with the children I also got very close to other volunteers (local and international) , we organized social activities outside the center and since its Ramadan season, we were invited by Anggaace4ra, one of the local volunteers ( who is also a very close and great friend of us), to break fast at his place and all of us joined  the food was amazing and all his family were happy for having us there, we also organized one breaking fast event at the center and some parents came , see, it is easy to fall in love with the local community, they are all very kind and always ready to help us.

Aceh is a quiet and beautiful little town, with this amazing landscape and gorgeous beaches, but its people is definitely the best of it  . These 4 weeks at the IHF center were full of learnings, laughter, kindness and most of all, full of friendship and I am thankful for the opportunity I had to help these wonderful and bright kids. Despite being sad for leaving my kids here in Aceh, I am thrilled to join this new family at the IHF center in Chiang Rai, I believe it will be as exciting and fulfilling as Banda Aceh was.ace3

The importance of creativity: Body Painting at IHF Bali

by Laia & Judit, Voluntourist, IHF Bali
This is the first week that we have spent in IHF Bali, and our first voluntourist experience. Until now it has been such an amazing experience and we have done a lot of things with the children and the other volunteers.

The first day that we arrived here, we had Bingo Night. It was so fun! We did it to P1060264 (640x480)fundraise some money for the center. It was great because we could spend time with the other volunteers and get to know them more. At Bingo Night we sold also some T-shirts and postcards, and the people who came were so generous and kind.

At 12 o’clock on Saturday we started our special project: face painting day. This consisted of a creative and fun activity where the children could paint their face or other parts of their body. At first we started painting the face of the children, but then they said that they also wanted to paint other parts of their body. So we started to paint their hands, arms, feet, and more!



It was a really good activity that exercised the creativity of the children because they started to paint some beautiful paintings for the teachers: flowers, crocodiles, butterflies…


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We are so happy because the activity was so exciting for the children and it gave us the opportunity to spend time together and even learn some words in Indonesian.

We hope we’ll have more opportunities to share different moments like this during our stay at the IHF Center.

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A wonderful week at IHF Jakarta Center: Buka Bersama, lessons, visiting the city and delicious food!

by Dolores, Voluntourist, IHF Jakarta

After a long trip, I arrived at the IHF center in Jakarta on 30th June. There was a cute cat sleeping on the chair and a beautiful yard in the IHF center. A grj0oup of friendly people took me to a beautiful café, and treated me to ice-cream. They told me a lot about the volunteering life and about Jakarta, and we had a wonderful talk.

In IHF, I tasted all kinds of delicious food. In the morning, Ayu, a friendly girl, bought delicious breakfast for us, such as traditional Indonesian food and porridge. Every day, we had an exceedingly good lunch, and the lunches were always different. Occasionally, we would go out to eat barbecued food at night. After meals, we played lots of interesting games, such as scrabble, monopoly and poker.

In the first week, we observed how lessons were taught, and learnt how to teach kids. And I got along well with these cute kids. On Saturday, we distributed leaflets in another nearby community with Ade. And on Saturday night, there was a big special dinner (Buka Bersama) at the IHF center to celebrate Ramadan. Every one ate dinner together and played games. The life of a volunteer is so wonderful!


Sundays are our day off, and on that day, we went to the city cej22nter of Jakarta and saw some magnificent buildings, such as Monas, the Mosque and a church. Then, we went to Grand Indonesia Mall and stayed at a fancy café called Magnum café, where we enjoyed a delicious dessert.

In a word, I had a wonderful week in IHF and in Jakarta!(*^__^*)


My Five Best Experiences with IHF Banda Aceh (In Chronological Order)

by Ilya, Work-Study, IHF Banda Aceh

I can’t believe how fast time flies. Six weeks ago, I wrote about my first of eight weeks that I would be spending at the IHF Banda Aceh center. Now, my time is almost up. I have gained incredible insights on the operations of an international non-profit, and now I am almost certain that there is nothing more that I want for my future than to realise my childhood dream of working for one. But more importantly, I have met people who have shared moments with me that I hope I will never forget.

1. 23rd May 2015: Hiking without Shoes at Kuta Melaka and Sunset at Lhok Nga
It was my first Saturday here. Dustin, Jessica and Anggara had made plans to go to Kuta Melaka, a highland with a waterfall located about one and a half hours’ ride away from the center. Dustin had insisted that I come along. Even though I was 1initially reluctant to do so, I’m glad he did. It was the first time I had to ride pillion on the motorbike for such a long period of time. We passed by rows after rows of mountains overlooking acres of green paddy fields. We rode through the countryside, where villagers were going about their daily chores. They would pause to stare at us, and we would exchange smiles. We dipped our sun-kissed toes into the cool, clear water. I honestly never knew Aceh had so much to offer. We then went to Lhok Nga to catch the sunset. That would be my first of many times watching the sun inch its way down the horizon at the beach.








2.7. June 2015: Fun Games at Pass it On Ceremony

It was the Sunday after a week of exams. Emily, Dustin, Nazma, Sushi, George and I had spent the entire afternoon preparing for the Pass It On Ceremony, where students who topped their respective classes and had best attendances would be given prizes. After breaking my back packing an estimated 70 goodie bags consisting of risols and donuts, I watched as the earlybirds arrived. Smartypants Barry approached the registration counter and asked Emily, “Naik kelas empat? (Did I advance to the fourth grade?)” After more kids6 and their parents streamed in, we started playing games. I blew up balloons and filled them up with candy (or “permen”, as the kids call it). They would have to sit on the balloons and burst them in order to retrieve the candy. It was supposed to be a team game, but when I saw everyone running towards the balloons at once, I gave up trying to explain myself. We also played the classics – three-legged race, food-eating competition and the good ol’ piñata. The sun was merciless, and my feet were dirty from running around barefoot at the backyard. But that didn’t matter, because I remember very clearly how wonderful it felt for everyone to come together and have fun.


3. 22nd May – 4th July 2015: Fundraiser
Even before I arrived, Emily had told me that I would be put in-charge of organising a fundraiser for the center. I initially had wanted to carry out an art fair. However, after consulting with the high7 school students, we decided to sell food instead. From the get-go, I knew that working with them would be an enriching experience. The high school students are a bunch of playful, dynamic and outgoing people. We had a few meetings to sort out the details of our fundraiser – what we were going to sell, how much each item would be sold for, how we were going to prepare the food. Our meet-ups entailed 10am mornings and working for 8 hours. Soon, we were meeting up not only to discuss about the fundraiser, but also to just hang out over bowls of mie bakso, Acehnese birthday bashes and horrible karaoke sing-alongs.



4. 11 & 12 June 2015: Taekwondo Class
Throughout the summer, the Aceh center held special activities for the students. I deci10ded to conduct a taekwondo class for the kids, knowing that they really enjoy physical activities. What I did not know, however, was that some of them also take martial arts lessons. And this common ground really helped me break the ice with them and easily get to know them better. The kids’ favourite part of the lessons were definitely the board-breaking section. Dustin managed to find unused wooden planks lying around, so he helped to cut them into boards. They initially wanted to try breaking the boards using their hands, which was honestly impossible. When I managed to break one using a kick, they all seemed impressed and started cheering for me. It was an amusing situation to be in 


5. Every Day: Masuk Kelas (and everything else related to it)
I will never get tired of hearing the co-directors shout, “Masuk kelas!” which means, “Get into class!” I do it too sometimes, and it’s such a joy to watch the15 kids run into the classrooms, albeit reluctantly at times. For the past month, I taught SD4 (4th graders), who are witty and smart, and extremely lovely to be around. Although it could get challenging at times, I really enjoyed the times I spent standing in front of the whiteboard. I also had a ball doing all the random things with students and volunteers of all ages before and after classes – taking photos, playing Uno (which is taken very seriously here), plucking mangoes and guavas from the trees in our backyard, having jump rope competitions and entertaining conversations.


I’m now counting down the hours that I have before I depart. On the one hand, I can’t wait to go back and spend Eid with my family. On the other hand, a part of me knows that leaving will be a struggle. I am already thinking about the next time I’ll be back. But till then, I will keep the memories of this place close to me, and I will carry the essence of warmth, of hospitality and of acceptance of my newfound friends with me. And in the spirit of IHF, I hope to pass it on to those I meet back home. 


Playing photographers at IHF Nakuru Center

by Marina and Isaias, Voluntourist, IHF Nakuru

We are Marina and Isaias, and we are from Tarragona, Spain. Marina is a pre-primary teacher, and Isaias is a psychologist and a photographer. We wanted to live this experience as an immersive project. And for the moment, it is. Every day we have been in contact with the people, the culture, the ways of live, the educatio_MG_4975n… and of course, the children of the center. We were told that they would be very excited and happy to see us, and it was like this. They are very funny, open-minded and always ready to gain knowledge. Their curiosity allowed us to reach long and interesting conversations. The IHF collaborators have helped us a lot, even regarding the working style in the center and the interesting places at Nakuru. We appreciate this a lot. In this center there is a lot of work to do: painting, feeding the animals, take care of the farm, cooking… And we are trying to help as much as we can. In this first week, we have seen big groups of flamingos, lakes with geysers, falls about 30 meters or more, the life in the center, the contrast between the center and the suburbs, the taste of goat, we’ve been in a matatu with 23 people (instead of 15), the flora and fauna, the typical games and songs from the children, a nursery school, the changing weather, the “mazungu” (white people) prices, people’s homes, pubs…

In these two weeks we have more experiences and things to explain than in one year in our country.
In this week we feel more comfortable. Our relation with the kids is more solid: they have come with us everywhere, Isaias has taught them about photography, Marina has played games with the girls, we have seen together the Master Chef program from Spain…, it was funny to hear things like “I don’t want this guy to win” or “bah, it’s a bad cooker…”, really we had a lot of fun.
During this week we couldn’t stop thinking about the day when we will leave the center, it’s sad, because we lived too many things. Now when we are writing this, we are thinking that in a few hours we will be too far from our new friends… Not only with the kids, also with the other directors and volunteers of the center… You can always say “oh yes we will be in contact, here you have our facebook/mail/whatever…” but if we want or not, it’s time to say goodbye.CAM02429-1
For the children of the center we organized a special project that involves teaching, psychology and photography: the kids had to learn the emotions, identified the most important ones and, through the photography, try to express them. They were the photographers, and with the help of Tumaini and other people from Spain we could recollect some digital cameras for them. Of course, they were very excited, it’s early to take conclusions of this project, but one of the things that surprised us was their way to express the emotions thanks to other people, I mean, sometimes when we asked them “tell us the emotions that you wanted to represent in this photo” their answer was: “It’s happiness, because the child that I take the photo probably is the first time that sees another children with a camera, for that reason he is happy, so I’m also”. We were impressed.
It’s time to say goodbye while we surprised some pigs are trying to eat our maize. For whoever is reading this: try to live one experience like this, even at the beginning is difficult, one day you will adapt yourself and then the experiences just flows. Thanks for reading us.foto sol ballant