The Second Week at IHF Aceh Center

IMG_2671By: Jim, voluntourist Aceh

When I was typing these letters, it was the end of my teaching journey in IHF Banda Aceh Center. Compared to the first week, I felt more comfortable to deal with lessons and the daily life.

Along with the normal classes, we also taught mandarin to SMP students. It was very exciting to express our Chinese culture to Indonesian people. But it was also a big challenge because the pronunciation and writing of mandarin is difficult for foreigners. I thought the class was carried on well, and I was happy to let more people know my country.

I was also touched by the enthusiasm of local volunteers. These people are really warm-hearted. They said ‘hi’ to me with passion and even helped us with our classes, for
example, they translate our English to Indonesian which made our speaking easy to understand. When I was free, it was interesting to talk with these local volunteers and co-directors. We talked about our universities and the difference between our cultures, even small personal stories. All these stories made the conversation full of laughter. I now know more about how different people live and think in different parts of the world.

FIMG_2616or pleasure, I went to Sabang on Sunday with my friends. We tried diving in the near ocean and it was really a fantastic experience. It was my first time to dive and the peace inside the ocean surprised me. We also went to see the sunset. Although there were many clouds in the sky, the orange of the sunset and the blue of the ocean created a beautiful view!

The volunteers in the center and the local people impressed me a lot, they helped me in these days and treated me as their friend. This journey must be one of the most wonderful memories in my life. I hope that I can recall these moments and never lose the passion of life that I feel in Banda Aceh.

Volunteers visit Kenya

By: Mike, Co-Director Kenya IMG_5494

My name is Mike and I am a co-Director in Nakuru from Johannesburg, South Africa. I have been here at the centre for almost four months and am enjoying the learning experience that the centre is providing me with. This week has seen a lot of action on many different fronts. With one of our co-Directors going on her monthly four-day leave on Wednesday, the IMG_0857work has picked up quite a bit. But she left four co-Directors at the centre, so it has not been that bad. The real excitement came when we had to host around eighty volunteers who had come to do some community outreach at the centre.

The group from Cap Youth Institute came and did a variety of activities from cleaning the buildings, washing the children’s clothes, cooking meals, feeding the rabbits, cleaning the centre grounds, chopping firewood, and clearing the soccer field at the centre. IMG_0870They also played a game of soccer against the children, which proved to be a lot of fun and the boys really enjoyed it. They got to share some experiences, personal and otherwise, with the children.

We also received a huge amount of donations from the Cap Youth Institute as well as some other parties, which were greatly appreciated by the children.

Galungan-Kuningan at Bali Centre

Galungan DayBy: Ashleigh, Work Study Bali

The first two weeks of my month long stay at IHF Bali happened to be the start of a two week holiday period for the children too. During this time there are numerous ceremonies for the Galungan-Kuningan period, which is when the Hindus celebrate the victory of Dharma over Adharma. So while my start here may not be as per usual – it definitely has been both an interesting and exciting time to be a volunteer!

The last few days have been particularly busy around here as everyone travels back to their family homes to prepare and await Galungan day. On this day the Hindu’s believe that their ancestors’ spirits come down to visit earth.  Penjors which are tall bamboo poles decorated with coconut leaves, fruits, flowers and other special items are displayed outside houses as an offering to God and their ancestors – making Buitan and the surrounding towns look very festive.Special Activities 1

As a result of these holidays, we have been running special activities at the centre for the children instead of normal classes. These days have been enjoyed by both the students and volunteers! From making playdough to drawing faces on balloons filled with flour and weaving yarn hearts for Valentine’s day – all has been done with great enthusiasm and the learning of new English and Indonesian words along the way. The creative talents of the children here are extraordinary and definitely put my own skills to shame.

Sunset at the centreDespite the very appropriately named wet season, life in Buitan is festive at the moment and everyone is very friendly and happy as well. Classes will return to normal in the following weeks. I am very much looking forward to the rest of my stay here and being able to spend time with the children and people of Buitan.

Full and Fulfilled

By: Julie, Executive Director Thailand and KenyaDSCN0447

The weeks seem to be flying past now I am coming towards the end of my stay at IHF Chiang Rai.  The weather is getting hotter every day.  The time from 4pm, when the light is so special and it is warm but not too hot, is becoming my favourite part of the day.  To keep cool in the afternoons many people have been heading to the river to swim. It is very shallow now as we’ve had no rain for several months and you can wade right across it to the other side.  It is lovely to sit in the shade on the bamboo platforms by the side of the river and watch the water slide by.

DCIM102GOPROGOPR2547.I was very fortunate this week to be invited for dinner with my Thai friends – Suchai and Od. They have just moved into a new house next to the bottling factory they own and it was very beautiful. On the way we stopped to buy some freshwater King Prawns which are farmed just outside Chiang Rai. They were swept out of their tank (alive) and straight onto the BBQ.  Whilst they tasted delicious I felt a bit bad for them.

Continuing the food theme, the children requestedDSCN0448 fresh Tilapia (river fish) and so I went to the local market to buy these for dinner. Again the fish were still alive and were prepared on the spot.  The local markets are wonderful in the diversity of fresh meat, fish and vegetables at very cheap prices. I know I’m going to miss all the Thai delicacies when I return to Kenya next month.


Valuable experiences teaching as a Local Volunteer in Medan Center

By: Nur, Local Teacher Medan Media Medan Center 1 -7 Feb 2016  (2)

My name is Nur. I have been with IHF as a local teacher in Medan Center since last year. I have been teaching Maths for primary levels here.

Medan Center has been like my second home. This center is not only teaches the children but the local teachers as well. I learned how to communicate with the kids better. I believe the best way to improve ourselves is by sharing our knowledge with others, because sharing motivates us to gain even more knowledge.

Media Medan Center 1 -7 Feb 2016  (1)Every Friday, Medan center has a special class for local teachers to improve our English conversation skills. This class has been taken care of by Ms. Aditi, one of our Co-Directors. As a local who never goes out of my shell, getting a chance to share stories with the foreign volunteers is something nice to do. We get a chance to know how living in other countries than ours. It is so very interesting. Our Co-Directors are patient to guide the teachers if we don’t understand some subjects. I just can say thank you very much everything. I believe whatever I got from here  will be useful in improving myself for a better future.

Art History and Fundraising

By: Gabby, Co-Director Jakarta

This was a very special week for use here at JakartaIMG_5157 center. Not only did we have a full week of classes, but we organized and hosted a fundraiser as well!

Katarina has begun her Art history program with our students. This week they learned about the art of ancient Egypt. Art history is a great way to get students curious about other cultures, while still enabling them to think creatively. Though the class was delayed (due to the infamous Jakarta traffic) the students left with a greater knowledge of the world around them, and capitalized on a chance to stretch those creative muscles!

IIMG_5161 (1)n addition, we practiced some abstract painting with our SD1-6 students. They really took to the activity, and enjoyed the lack of rules or structure. Sometimes being able to do works of art like this can be the greatest stress reliever. Let’s not forget that children can get stressed out too! all in all it was a great, stress-free event and day.

The most notable part of this week however did not occur in the classroom. Our Fundraiser, “Meatballs for Education” was held on Sunday. Even though it was the beginning of Chinese New Year, we still had a pretty good turnout. The event IMG_5208was a lunch, where attendees could eat some Bakso (or meatballs,) kindly donated by Bakso Benhil, tour our center, and learn a bit more about our programs. We raised a total of Rp. 781,000 on the day, and are incredibly thankful to everyone who attended.

IMG_5211Hopefully we are able to host more events like this in the future. We are passionate about our children, and will continue to work with the Jakarta community to garner even further support for our programs.

Re-connecting in Thailand

By: Julie, Executive Director Thailand and KenyaDCIM102GOPROGOPR3088.

It’s hard to believe how quickly my time here is passing.  I am already past the half way point of my three months and starting to plan my return to Kenya.  I’ve been able to do some new things whilst I was here including a day trip to the lake at Phyao, the flower market and the undertaking of a Hah Yaew tattoo ceremony.  The 10 rules by which I now have to live my life will give me a profound and lasting memory of my time here in Thailand.

DSCN0389The other beautiful thing about my visit has been being able to renew my friendship and care of the young people here.  Having been given a warm welcome back we have now settled into a comfortable family atmosphere.  I don’t even have to badger the boys to cook and clean! The girls have had some difficult choices to make about their futures. Sukanya and Janjira will be finishing High School in a few weeks and have made the decision to go to university in Chiang Mai. This will mean a very fast move for them to independence but they have both chosen a very good university and excellent courses.  Whilst I will miss them and hope they will keep in touch, I’m very happy that they got such excellent grades to enter a top university in Thailand. We also had a visit from a former child of the centre – Soithong – with her baby son who is now one year old. I was delighted to see her and it was lovely to have a baby at the centre for a few days. He was very spoiled by us all.

We had a large festival here near the centre with 002loads of food (the Thai’s do love their food!) and clothing stalls. It had a really bizarre cowboys and Indians theme but most strange was the baby rabbits dressed in Suits and dresses.  I had to laugh and sent it to the team in Kenya as a suggested development to our rabbit project.


Same City, New View


BIMG_5320y: Isabel, Co-Director Nakuru

My name is Isabel. I am a new Co-Director at the Nakuru IHF centre and this is my second week here. I come from Nakuru so adjusting to the centre has been easier for me. I feel like I am still at home, except for the big family of children and staff which am not accustomed to.

I am slowly getting used to this. The thing that is a bit challenging for me is some of the online work. But with the help of other IMG_5251Co-Directors, I am catching up.

I came to the centre at a busy time. Some of the kids are being sent to new schools and others are still to be admitted. I am also fortunate to have come at a time when a new system of school follow ups has been introduced.

I am excited to be in charge of one of the groups. I know this will be very helpful and necessary measures will be taken to improve and upgrade the marks of the children. I WP_20160204_11_54_48_Probelieve we will also have better relationships with the children, hence making it easier for us to know any other pressing issues they might have.

This week we will be doing an induction of what we plan to do with the children and hopefully it will be the beginning of great and better things to come.

Lessons from a Paper Boat

Boat AcehBy: Wendi, UNNC Voluntourist

Before I came to Aceh, I thought the people there must be quite different from those in China. In fact, the appearance, the whether and the way they dress is significantly different. However, one little thing changed my mind.

It was the paper folding. After the SD1 English class was over, I found that the two little girls were folding paper. They were singing and talking to each other happily using the language that I could not understand. But actually I did not feel like I was being ignored. What surprised me was that I knew what they were folding.  It was a KidsAcehpaper boat. My mother taught me how to fold the same boat and I didn’t expect to see the same way of folding on this island, in a place so far from my hometown. It was so familiar and my heart was warmed.

I realized the fact that there is no differences between human beings. Whatever the country, whatever the language, we are all humans. The world is a whole.

So  I  did not  leave  immediately  after the c lass.  I  folded   paper boxes,  paper canres  and   paper stars  for  them. They  seemed   happy  with  those  little  things. They  laughed,  and that  is why  I  came  here.


The Journey

By: Jane, UNCC Voluntourist Balibalifeb1

Day 1

On the first day we came to the Center in the evening. The first day was tough because we had never been slept in a hut before. It is hard to imagine how terrified I was when I saw black bean-like bugs on my bed and mosquito net crawling or unmoved like a seed. To be honest, I wish I could have slept in a cozier environment. However, I was too tired, and with the buzzing of the insects, I fell asleep right away…


Day 2

In the morning of the second day, we were trained by Alice, the co-director of the Bali center, and our instructions were given.
Day 3

After getting accustomed to the environment here, we were arranged to get involved in the class teaching. The Indonesian children were coming into the Center at around 12.30 am. Along with their diligence and creation, I would like to mention a moving moment. It was on a Balifeb2hot summer morning, a lovely little girl walked into Lumbung, a traditional Balinese house, where I was reading a book. ‘What’s your name little girl’, I asked. ‘Eva’, she said politely. After a while, we got to know each other more deeply, she taught me Indonesian while I showed her Chinese in return. Suddenly, she ran away to the garden. I was wondering what she is looking for. To my surprise, she came back with a cempaka in her brown sweaty hand, she gave it to me, and said in a sweet voice,’ this is for you!’ All of a sudden, the uncomfortable feelings about the hot weather had gone away!



The next day early in the morning, we woke up at 5am in order to enjoy the early market. David and Alice took us there by motorcycles, I felt excited when the humid and salty air patted softly on my face. There are a variety of fresh and colorful fruits and vegetables here as well as Balifeb5traditional Indonesian breakfast made by white rice paste and green bean paste. We also bought many ingredients for cooking Chinese food someday, hopefully tonight! In the afternoon, we went to a jungle to see how the civet cat produces the luwak coffee. We learned that it is also named as the ‘poo poo coffee’. Actually, the luwak is not my taste, because it’s too bitter, but some people are really experts in it. What a colorful day. In the evening we went to watch the traditional Balinese dancing near the sea shore and we ate delicious dishes on a coach located on the sand with candle on the wooden table! Gradually I become fascinated with the place, the weather and the people here!