Moving from Jakarta to Medan Center

Recently I found out that I will be leaving Jakarta center soon, as I am moving to Medan IHF center. My feelings are mixed about this right now. Although I have always wanted to visit Sumatra one day, I am feeling sad that I have to leave behind Jakarta. This is not so much because of the city but because of all the wonderful people, friends and students, that the long distance is going to separate me from.

I will really miss everyone here. First of all, Christina, as we arrived at the center together and we haven’t been separated ever since, not even on our weekends! I will miss having fun with the children of the house, Ayu, Ade and Rahma. Especially Rahma and the secret girly talks, games and yoga practice we had together! I will miss Ibu, her wonderful Indonesian cooking and her daughter Ica with that sweet little rounded face of hers! The local volunteers of the center, the warmhearted ‘Hellos’ from our neighbors and most of all, I will miss all my lovely students! I wish that you will give and receive the same or even more love and knowledge from your next teacher.

Thank you all so much for giving and sharing with me so many unique moments and experiences! I will always have the sweetest memories of all of you`:)

By Zoe

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Cleaning to Educate!

by Sahat, Co-Director, IHF Medan

Last week, we had a great idea to clean the center with all the volunteers. IHF Medan Center is quite big and large. In front of the center there is a big tree and some bamboos so the leavesCleaning a ditch of those trees always fall and make the land become filthy. Even the IHF board has been hiding by the branches of the trees and the fill in of a ditch.

In our center we have many students from different levels; starting from SD 1, around 5 years old until Seniors. We are trying to educate them to not throw the rubbish on the floor. We are also trying not only to educate the students in knowledge and English but also in discipline for a better life. We believe that teaching is sharing and showing the teachers knowledge, however the most important thing is how to give a moral lesson to the children and have them in high moral standard.

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Now on, we, as co-directors at IHF Medan Center (Aditi, Lissa, Sahat) hope to give the best of us and the totality of our effort to the center.pamphlet of IHF board

Nasi Goreng!!!!

By Carlos, Work-Study, IHF Bali

I arrived to Bali Center almost one month ago very nervous and excited about this new experience that I was facing. It was my first time out of Europe so everything seemed new to me.

I wanted to enjoy this experience as much as possible, meeting Indonesian people and culture, learning Indonesian language and trying the delicious Indonesian food. That’s why I started asking to some of the volunteers who speak the language how to say the things in Indonesian. Of course, the most important word in all languages is thank you, so the first word my partners told me was “nasi goreng” which means thank you, or that’s what I thought.

My second day in Bali we all went together to have lunch in a restaurant, when the waiter brought my drink, I told him “nasi goreng”, to be as much polite as possible and he look at me confused and I repeated “nasi goreng” in case he didn’t hear my thank you.

After 30 minutes the samP1080416e waiter came to our table with a plate of fried rice for me I couldn’t understand what was happening but the rest of the volunteers were laughing so much. I didn’t understand the situation, why did he bring me fried rice? I wasn’t really hungry. When my friends couldn’t stop laughing they explained to me that Nasi Goreng, is a typical Indonesian dish basically made by fried rice mix with vegetables and eggs, actually the right word to say thanks in Indonesian is “terima kasih”.

It was a little joke for the noob, which turned into a really funny day and at the same time that I tasted some typical Indonesian food I learnt my two first Indonesian words easily, I will never forget them!! Nasi Goreng for this unforgettable day!!

Kapedo next President of Kenya!

by Martina, Voluntourist, IHF Nakuru

We have been quiet busy this week, as we have started to paint! All buildings need to be painted, inside and outside.

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We had lot of fun doing it! Some of the eldest guys were helping us, of them was Kapedo. He has been entertaining us the entire time by explaining his plans for the future: he wants to become next president of Kenya! He proposed me to stay here as longer as I could, in order to become a Kenyan citizen and vote for him! Such a smart guy!!!

This week I have travelled during my day off and image (7)when I got back to the center, small girls and Jonathan were waiting for me and they said they have missed me!! It’s unbelievable how these people have got close to me within such a short period..

Most of these kids are so grateful and every day shows their appreciation about our hard work, this is helping and motivating us a lot!

My favourite food is…

by Christina, Co-Director, IHF Jakarta

A student in my SMA (high school) class was telling me about a special dish her mother made for dinner that day. I used this opportunity to have a small, impromptu discussion about what everyone’s favourite foods were. One of the students suggested that we have dinner together the next class. Everyone agreed to bring something.

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I love these kind of spontaneous events and was really excited to try some new foods. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the names of everything we ate, but there was some meat cooked in coconut, fish steamed in banana leaves, fried noodles, vegetables with peanut sauce and fresh coconut water. Some of the foods were new to me, but I loved them all. As a special treat, I bought durian ice cream for all the students. It is a favorite among kids here, but not a flavor easily acquired by my Western taste buds. If you are not familiar with durian, it is a giant spiky fruit that smells, well, I’m too polite to say what it smells like, but it doesn’t smell nice. The fruit itself is sweet and creamy and makes a nice desert and the kids were really excited to eat it. I gave it another go myself and didn’t find it as bad as the first time. Maybe it is growing on me after all! 20150327_194116

Do not break the rules!

by Aditi, Co-Director, IHF Medan

Last week, we prepared a list of things that we need to focus on for better functioning of our centre. Discipline, our library, recruitment drive and starting Aflatoun classes at the center were the priority issues that we discussed.
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Earlier, we had made posters with class rules for all the classes. The posters had become old and the children continued with their mischief. So, we decided to place new posters and explain class rules to children again. Teachers made nClass rulesew posters and thesclass rules 1e were put in the areas where classes are held so that the children could see them without any difficulty. We also set down rules for the use of our library so that children and teachers can make best use of the resources available. We are also excited about starting Aflatoun classes for students at the center.
We also welcomed our new Co-Director; Sahat at the center. Sahat has previously associated with IHF Medan as a local volunteer. We are a team of 3 Co-directors now and we look forward to making good use of our skills and organising various activities at the center.

King of the Castle

by Dustin, Co-Director, IHF Aceh

A week ago I returned from Penang, via Medan. It was great to visit Lissa, Aditi, and the rest of the IHF Medan Family once again. Penang’s a wonderful place – first time in Malaysia, but I was most excited about securing my new visa, allowing me to continue my volunteer work with IHF. Since the trip marked the halfway point for my year here in Aceh, it was a great chance to reflect upon all I’ve learned and loved thus far, and the experiences that still await me. Timea gave a lot to this Center and this organization. Her departure left many responsibilities which Emily and me must now fill. I miss her presence, but am excited for the challenge and opportunity for growth this presents.

Emily left for her much-deserved two week break shortly after I came back, making it my turn to entertain the ghosts of the empty house with my solo dance acts. The solitude wasn’t quite as new to me as it was to Emily – I had held down the fort previously when Emily and Timea travelled together, and always sought seclusion to complete my online tasks or workout. Nonetheless, the freedom of being on my own, combined with the fresh feeling of starting the second half of my year here, led to an attitudeIMG_0251 of experimentation. From puppets in the classroom to keep the kiddos excited, to a dab of chlorine in the bathroom basin to keep the mosquitos from breeding, to finally using whatsapp to communicate with teachers so they don’t need pulsa – I felt myself getting better at life each day. Now, if I could remember to stop leaving my camera out for the kids to steal and take selfies!

Something that’s been giving me quite a bit of inspiration lately is an online leadership course I’ve been taking through Coursera. A few days ago, in order to practice motivation through positive visioning, I had to make a list of 27 things I wish to accomplish in my lifetime – long enough to go from the basic to the detailed. After sharing with my friends, I was amazed at how much the idea caught on, with everyone eager to share lists of their own. It just so happened SD 4 is currently learning Future Tense, and so I thought, “What better way for them to practice than to have them make a list of future goals for themselves!?”

Reducing the assignment to fifteen dreams, and sharing a child-appropriate list of my own, I put them to work writing what they will be, do, or have in the future. Despite the language barrier, and the cultural differences, the results were very similar to what I would expect fourth-graders in America to write – from the innocent (“I will have many friends”) to the vain (“I will have plentiful houses”), and from the ambitious (“I will play football for Real Madrid”) to the cop-out (“I will clean” – I told her she could reach that goal right after class). Although some, of course, were more awkwardly worded (“I will have young”). While I still have much to do to help them develop their language skills in order to reach many of these goals, it was rewarding to see how much they enjoyed envisioning their ideal selves.

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Protecting elephants: Common Purpose Nationwide

by Ushmi, Co-Director, IHF Chiang Rai

It was Friday 13th March- a day many would remain cautious and park adventures of any kind aside… if one lived around superstition, of course. For us, here at the Chiang Rai Center, it was just another hot Friday. The kids had just begun their holidays and before they returned to their village for their long break we decided to have an outing together. I love elephants and the children love Chiang Rai Beach, so we compromised… to do both!

We took a long tail boat from Chiang Rai Beach to the Ruammit Elephant Camp. It was just under an hour of meandering along the River Kok. GorgeIMG_2058ous landscapes draped with hills, forest cover, plantations and scattered inhabitants were but a taste of our view from the boat. The river water splashed onto us, as if to be part of the boat ride package, cooling us from the scorching sun. We passed children playing, jumping from rocks into the water, fishermen hard at work and many other boats filled with tourists, perhaps heading to the same attraction.

The Ruammit Elephant Camp is at the Karen Village, a home to almost 30 elephants of ages from 5 to 75 years. Elephants have served the people of Thailand for years, from logging, to transportation, and most importantly in battle.

But elephants’ lives have been threatened over the years, for reasons including increased land domination by humans and climate change, amongst other endangering factors. Elephant numbers have reduced at an alarming rate, from over 100,000 to almost 6,000 wild and domesticated elephants within 10 decades. Protecting elephants soon became a common purpose nationwide.
IMG_2038The Karen Village was an area where elephants served a significant domestic purpose. Logging was as a result of agricultural expansion for northern Thailand- an economic activity that provided a significant and increasing source of income for the Thai. However, as negative consequences became obvious to the government, a ban of logging was passed in 1989. Elephant camps developed as elephants for tourism became an alternative income provider.

Once we arrived to the camp, the elephants were not ‘parked’ as I remembered from my last visit. The elephant carers were also relaxed, and piles of bananas and bamboo (elephant food) were left in abundance for the elephants to eat at their leisure. Everything seemed different… but isn’t that the feeling every day in Thailand? We were petting and feeding the elephants. The girls were shy, careful and perhaps scared. Nupon and the rest of us were feeding them, stroking and ‘feeling the love’.

We were intrigued about the age of the elephant and that’s wIMG_2067hen we found out. The carer said the elephant was 75 years old. A massive grinned filled his face as he said, ‘it’s his birthday today- it’s the birthday for all the elephants in Thailand!’ I didn’t quite understand and then looked around- there was no elephant riding, no chains, it was what he said- Thai National Elephant Day! We spent an hour spraying water on them, feeding them and just enjoying their company. And then they were let free into the forest. They were free for the day… but they were free.

This day is marked to show the significance of elephants in Thailand, especially through the strong connection between the elephants and the Thai. But most importantly it has become the day to raise awareness about protecting and conserving the elephant population and their habitats.

Friday 13th may be bad luck for some but for us at IHF Chiang Rai, it couldn’t have been any luckier!

Happy 1937!!

by Helene, Work-Study, IHF Bali

From my arrival in Bali I knew that Saturday 21st of March 2015 would be a very special day. From November, all my Balinese friends asked me if I would still be in their amazing island for what they call “Nyepi”. Months before this day, all the youngsters from almost each Banjar (community in a neighborhood) start building Ogoh-ogoh. They are  giant monsters which are meant to scare demoP1080472ns on the day before Nyepi called “Kesanga”, cleaning the island from evil spirits for the new Balinese year (to let you know we entered year 1937). All Balinese families were in the street that day to watch boys and men carrying Ogoh Ogoh over bamboos, turning and jumping, while many others were following them making as much noise as possible. It was truly a very exciting moment to share with my friends.

From 6am the day after, Nyepi started for 24 hours. Everybody has to stay at home (tourists also), not making noise (we can speak normally but no music for example) and1901413_804319582950173_6767599353571264133_n no light at all at night. For very religious people, they even do not eat and meditate until the next morning. We spent the whole day cooking, swimming in the pool, eating and talking. I was already so quiet… But it was even more amazing at night when there was absolutely no light. We all lay down to watch the stars while hearing the waves from the distance.
I love the way Balinese people talk about Nyepi. They say they give their island a rest, they let it breath for one full day. From my point of view they still have a lot to do with plastic to respect their land but this quietness was truly stunning. In an utopic world I would import Nyepi all over the world.1513737_10152770438438589_4012417732694382136_n

New faces at IHF Nakuru Center!

by Martina, Voluntourist, IHF Nakuru

First week as a volunteer at IHF Nakuru Center:

The Children were so excited about my arrival; they were all kindly introducing themselves and (I’m not sure why) girls thought that my name was funny!image (3)

They though that my Italian name is not enough and that I should start thinking about an English name!! Just after I figured out that they all have double names, the original one given by the family and the English one.

I got introduced to so many of them, that after one week I couldn’t really remember all their names!! It was quite challenging!!

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This week I had to help the kids to write letters to their sponsors, and I was surprised how all they are really grateful to them. Apparently having sponsors supporting them is really important, because by this way they get monthly donations from them and even in special occasions such as birthdays they receive special donations. The kids were really happy to receive these donations so they could buy the school stuff that they need, or even visit their families.

Now is the dry season, it means that it hasn’t been raining since December, but the kids are happy anyway! I still haven’t seen any of them crying or being upset.image (2)

I’m starting to believe that I will have to learn a lot from these kids!!!