My Work-Study Experience at IHF Medan

by Evgenia, Work-Study, IHF Medan

I had enjoyed so much volunteering at IHF Center in Medan, Indonesia. It  was a mutual learning experience. I was teaching but at the same time I learnt a lot. The one month with IHF can be described through some lasting memories that I collected.

My role at the Center was “Work- DSCN6208study volunteer”. In fact, I did anything and everything that could be useful. My tasks have ranged from making videos, fundraising, and posting advertisements, to teaching the kids and making art and craft classes. The experience I have gained has been phenomenal and the exposure to the donor community has been more than I could have hoped for. It’s been a marvelous experience!

Living in Medan has been very interesting. I am going to miss my lovely room and the Indonesian culture. I am leaving next week, and it is definitely emotional. I have made some incredible friends– both at work and outside of the center. I will miss eating Nasi Goreng with my Co-directors, Lissa, Sahat, Zoe and Aditi everyIMG_20150507_151730_082 afternoon and traveling around Sumatra during the weekends. Living in Indonesia is quite an amazing experience. I have had the best time and overall, I wouldn’t have planned it any other way!

The best part about the whole experience was the love and respect that the children would express every time we met. They would always be so excited and eager to learn. They loved the art and craft classes. That paid me off.

While volunteering at IHF, I also saw the challenges that are involved in the management of an NGO. I know now, how hard it is to manage more than 100 kids of varied age groups. Though I would always crib as volunteering required a lot of work, the experience was worth it as it really inspires me to give back to the society. IHF lives up to its name. It gives one the hope that things can be changed and will change.

Farming is cheaper than the gym!

by Julie, Executive Director, IHF Kenya

After spending several mornings crouched over the Sweet Potatoes I’m starting to feel the ‘benefits’ of a good workout.  I guess it is somewhat cheaper than going to the gym. That said, I am so happy with the progress on the farm, which is my favourite experiment in the centre.  Having farmed in Nigeria many years ago I’ve had to adapt quite a lot to the different climate and elevation conditions.  We are diversifying this year into different varieties of bean but also adding carrots, bunch onions and tomatoes. working on the farmrains on the farm

There is always so much to do here. We need more volunteers (hint)! The painting project is going well but is so slow as we have four big buildings to do inside and out. The rains are very welcome for the farm but tend to hamper our progress in paintiPaintingng outside.  We’ve got a big list of improvements to do for the end of July which are the final recommendations for renewing our registration as a children’s home for the Kenyan government so it’ll be all hands to the work for the next few weeks.

I have to say, having been at IHF for over 2.5 years I’ve never had a dull moment!

Kite & Little Masters on the Rice Fields

Hello all!

First let me introduce myself… My name is Vladimir and I have been in IHF Jakarta for a month now, and sometimes messing up the tasks as a Co-Director. Overall it has been an honour to see that I have been accepted straight away from everyone, especially the kids. Yeah, they do test you, but in a very cute and non-malicious way. So far no one has thrown anything at me or stuck gum on my chair, even though I maybe deserved it a few times. Teaching is definitely fun, once you get it right.

We have a new volunteer from UK. Hello Heidy! She’s 19 years old and very sweet. I am sure that you will hear from her next week.

Time here runs so fast. Almost as fast as a kid on a sugar cane tea, down the stairs, after their last class for the day, thinking that the lady selling more sweets is waiting outside. Incredible thing to see.

Personally, I am having fun, sweating and getting lost. All you need from life, right?!

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I am trying to visit a different place every weekend. So far I was lucky to experience a variety from a hеrd of monkeys on the side of the road ( close to Jakarta’s center), to kites looking over their little masters – some children from the rice fields. I wonder what’s next.


My Bali Experience: from climbing a volcano to cleaning the beach

By Sarah, Voluntourist, IHF Bali

This week brought with it the arrival of two new voluntourists to IHF, an English Nurse on route through Asia and a very generous Polish Consultant looking to explore new avenues within humanitarian work.

Initiation involved a testing nine hour trek to the summit of Mount Agung alongside new co-director Mariana and Wayan- an experienced local guide who led epic climb in a pair of flip flops…


Meanwhile at IHF the children conduct their beach clean up with enthusiasm, to focus our activities on environmental education as garbage is one of the biggest problem that Indonesia is facing in this moment. After almost an hour under the sun racing to see who will pick up more trash from the beach we follow our Work-Study Carlos for a Spanish vs Indonesian soccer game which the children fully enjoyed.11180276_10206071174088306_262106684_n11178668_10206071173888301_1505947844_n

The week after we took advantage of our new nurse and organized a First Aid training with the kids. It was pretty funny using a volunteer as a canvas to explain to children what they should do in emergency situations.

Easter Break at IHF Nakuru

By Debora, Voluntourist, IHF Nakuru

It’s been an amazing, fun and busy two weeks and a great introduction to life here at Nakuru Centre, Kenya. I’ve arrived during the Easter school holidays and the planting season on the farm. The Centre is right now in the middle of painting the buildings so there’s a lot to do here!

Many of the children have stayed here at the Centre during the school break.
At IHF Nakuru there are more boys than girls ranging in age from 9-18 years old, I was surprised of how challenging is keeping them entertained and engaged . I was initially concerned that not having any teaching background might hinder my ability to interact meaningfully with the kids but thanks to the great IHF Nakuru team: Julie, Rafa, Angus, and Marcel along with several workshops by two outside volunteers, Glen and Kat, it has been pretty easy to be a part of things. Plus I’ve discovered that my Ghana djembe hand drum and camera are some of their favorite things . I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with the kids.

Playing around with the cameraCircle of friends

Being able to help with this year’s crops it was great, (this is so important for the Centre’s food program). One of the things the Centre is trying to accomplish this year is to increase the acreage planted and number of the crops so that the farm can provide a varied & sustainable food source. I’ve joined Clinton, Jonathan, and Sammy most mornings to help plant maize (corn), Tasha (beans), and kale thus far. I really love getting outdoors in the sun (and rain), digging in the dirt, listening to Clinton and Jonathan sing traditional songs while we plant. We’ve luckily had a fair amount of rainfall and it’s been great to see everything starting to grow now. I really wish I could be here for the harvest! After 1 week & rainWeeding - even in the rain!

Art Workshop in Medan Center

In the center we decided to hold an art workshop last Friday. As I love crafts, it wasn’t difficult for me to find the idea of ​​the project. When it was announced to the children, they got very excited. The preparatory process of the project was very pleasant. I got the necessary materials such as shells, cartons, glue, colors and painting brushes. With the help of the co-directors, I cut branches from bamboo trees that are in the yard of the center and I prepared the classroom.

Children were on time and they were very excited during the art class. They concentrated on their work well. It seems that they like art and craft classes a lot, even if some of them had never worked on something similar before. They painted their art sheets with many colors. Then they pasted the shells and bamboo sticks, forming small boats, butterflies and trees. After that, they painted they shells as they wanted. Finally, we cleaned up the place, and hung the art projects around classroom.

We really had a great time and we would definitely do it again!

by Evgenia Work Study Volunteer


Let’s start a fresh

by Ushmi, Co-Director, IHF Chiang Rai

I chuckle to myself as I write about “Thailand’s biggest festival of the year” because I’m sure I have declared this in at least two previous blogs. Perhaps the Thai do celebrate whole-heartedly, like there’s no tomorrow, like it should be the biggest festival. But this time, it really was “Thailand’s biggest festival”….


The traditional Thai New Year is celebrated from April 13th to 15th. A Sanskrit word meaning the travel of the sun from one Zodiac sign to another, this is the major ‘passage’ where the sun enters Aries the Ram, the first astrological sign in the Zodiac.

It was only until 1940 that January 1st became the official day welcoming the New Year. Tradition however remains fervent in Thailand. Songkran is therefore the biggest festival of the year.

‘Thousands have lived without love, not without water’ ~ W. H. Auden

Traditionally, the occasion is commemorated through the washing of Buddha statues. This holy water is then poured unto the public as a symbol of purification – blessing the soul and washing away all misfortunes, hence beginning the New Year a fresh.

With time, more and more people joined in the celebration. And being the hottest period of the year, it developed into a festival- an explosion of water from buckets to garden hosepipes and even water guns. During these three days people setup from morning to dusk, stationed outside homes, shops and restaurants. From blaring music, to the aroma of Thai barbeques and a continuous shower of water, it is an experience worth travelling for.

Pai duai (can I go with you)

On April 13th 2015, we- IHF Co-directors- set off to experience our very first Songkran with the children. Appearing at the street famous for Songkran celebrations in Chiang Rai, and with no expectation, it was an overwhelming site indeed. The first thing I saw was a pickup truck full of people throwing buckets of water on everyone on the streets. My eyes then registered the wider picture: people were dancing with water guns in hand, motorbikes zoomed past trying to dodge water attacks and those brave enough to walk the street were attacked, no doubt, every 20 meters.  That was going to be us.

It was an atmosphere like none I have witnessed- no anger, no hatred, only joy, love and blessings shared. Water was sprayed from everywhere on everyone, from young children to the elderly, everyone participated in this festivity. Pickup trucks and tuk tuks would let passersby hop on if there was space and join the convoy, like a water army. People even geared up in army suits with bulletproof vests, equipped with water guns of all sizes.

If you light a lamp for someone else, it will also brighten your pathIMG_2251

As well as the fun of it and the refreshing feelingin the scorching sun, there was a somewhat sacred sensation in the interaction between strangers. The act of pouring water on each other was received as a blessing. There was no culture difference, no nationality barrier… all was one


Aflatoun Training in Banda Aceh

This week, we hosted an Aflatoun training workshop for our teachers! Aflatoun is an international organization that teaches children about financial responsibility. They have a training program for volunteer teachers, so that they can become certified to teach the Aflatoun courses. The program was hosted by the very charismatic Maufiq, a teacher from Medan who traveled all the way to Aceh to deliver the course.
Our volunteer teachers absolutely loved it! The course generally consisted of the kinds of games a teacher can play with students to teach them about financial responsibility. While the games were fun and sometimes silly, they all had a bigger message that was quite impactful. At the end of the weekend, everyone was very excited to begin teaching these classes to our students here at IHF Banda Aceh! Aflatoun will send us lesson planning books in the next month, at which point we can begin hosting these classes. We are very excited and look forward to facilitating the workshops!
And a big congratulations to Maufiq, who informed us that shortly before arriving he became a father! We wish you, your wife and your new baby girl all the happiness in the world!
Emily – Banda Aceh Co-Director
Right and responsibility, cause and effect, action and consequence, reward and sacrifice – common lessons of every home and every culture, and also commonly attached to negative emotions like guilt and fear. In reality though, these things are all a part of a shared vision for a society where everyone is free to live a safe, happy, and productive life. Understanding and confidence in the business model is a natural extension of this – showing that an individual or team’s efforts and initiatives can create value, and will be rewarded, even if barriers must be overcome. I was very excited to see a program that gives this message in such a fun and positive way. I could see through all the laughs and smiles that our teachers felt the same way. I can’t wait to see how the flavor of their personalities will spice this powerful program.
Dustin – Banda Aceh Co-Director

My first responsible task: Sponsor Letters

by Marcel, Co-Director, IHF Nakuru

My fourth week started and I was given my first responIMG_1742sible task: Sponsor Letters. Get 60 kids, box of colored pencils, pad of paper and try to get 200 letters out of it, all addressed to the right sponsors. Quite a task, “you can be done in 4 days if you are well organized” (Julie said while explaining it to me) quite a challenge. I set up in the dining room with my laptop and all necessary equipment. I had no plan of how am I going to persuade 8-18 year old children to dedicate their time. As always best solution is to think and act on the spot and have no “optimal formula”, but try to keep personal approach and patience. Step by step. After few mornings, some running, some discussions and persuasion I am done with most of it. Fortunately.

First rain fell down this week, dry season has officially ended. That wouldn’t be that much of an event if it wasn’t for the small hole in the roof of my building and lack of ceiling above my head. Water is pouring slowly through it, into the cup I putted on the floor measuring time in its natural rhythm. I’m getting used to this place now, even the role I’m given, which wasn’t that intuitional in the first instance. I learn to take more and more responsibility, while still remaining a human being. It’s not as easy to balance as one may think, but I came here to learn, so all changes are welcome.IMG_1632

Aflatoun Classes at IHF Medan

by Sahat, Co-Director, IHF Medan

This week we have been starting our Aflatoun classes aAflatoun singing and dancing activityt IHF Medan center. The classes ranged from SD1 until Senior levels. The classes were organized by all the local teachers, who organized the activities according to the Aflatoun handbook.

At the beginning of the class, we introduced them about what is the meaning of Aflatoun. Actually, we are expanding our workshop since last February with the objective of training children on social and financial issues.

Then, we continued the activity by asking the students to make the symbol of IHF copying the one on the hand book we have. We provided the kids some pieces of paper so they could put their hands over it and draw the silhouettes of their own hands. To make it more interesting to the students we colored the pictures with the same colors as IHF symbol: blue, orange and red.Drawing class

We had such a great day; the kids enjoyed a lot the class. The teachers also made the students singing and dancing. We believe that the most important thing is always to make fun the classes so the students enjoy it and come always motivated to the center.

All of us, Co-Directors at IHF Medan will always try our best to make this possible.

Art class