Elephants and Birthday Cake

By: Sarah, Co-Director Thailand

We had an interesting week at the center, it was Arisa’s birthday! She is now 19. Arisa’s day started with a present in front of the door of her room. At school, two different friends Smail cooked cakes for her! At midday, Jiraporn and Nupon went to Arisa’s school to take lunch to her. After school, she found some birthday balloons at the center and for dinner we ate some pizza! After that we had an Oreo ice cream cake, the kids at the center love this kind of cake. We had a nice night and Arisa was very happy with her day!

 

On Saturday we had two men repair the center roof and they were able to repair the water heater too. So now we can have hot showers and after the next big rain we will see if the repairs of the roof will really be flood proof.

On Sunday I decided to have a surprise for all the kids. This was to celebrate the birthdays of this month, the scholarships of Darid, Kantiya and Arisa ,and for Darid’s work promotion.  So we went on a day tour, although not all of them could go.

Fit Elephants

Arisa, Kantiya and I decided to go and we had an amazing, funny and happy time. During the day, the weather was very crazy, there was very hot sun and also rain too. We went to the elephant village and rode elephants! For Arisa and I it was the first time, and we were very excited about it. Then we went to a waterfall where we took a lot of pictures and the guide took some for us with a bamboo cane selfie stick. I really love how Thai are able to transform anything to fit their needs. They have a lot of inventiveness and skill, I admire them. We finished the day in the hot springs, where we relaxed our bodies in the hot water.

It was really a wonderful week and I continue to learn a lot about Thai culture and about the amazing children we have at the center.

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The Beauty of Volunteering

By:  Ainhoa, Voluntourist Bali

Without a doubt, one of the best ways to gain access to a local community is through volunteering. I have found that volunteer work allows one to discover the essence of a

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country and to connect with its people. It is also one of the driving forces for creating change and making a positive impact in the world.

I had an absolutely fantastic time volunteering at the Bali Centre. We had the chance to do special activities with the kids, as well as help teach them English. The children are so full of warmth, so dynamic and so loving. We felt a strong connection to them and looked forward each day to seeing them again. Also, Bali in general is, beyond words, full of love. The Balinese people are among the most friendly and inviting people.

I have loved every second of this challenging job, even if at first took me a while to get used to the atmosphere.

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I have learned that people are not powerless, that everyone has a great deal of power and potential, although society sometimes is unfair, making us think we are different because of religion, economic status or sexual orientation. Also, I discovered that the kids had ultimately provided me with more lessons than I had given them.
Thank you so much to IHF for this wonderful opportunity. It was all that I hoped for and more. I do recommend the experience. It is the best way to explore Bali with opportunities that a normal traveler may not have.
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Recruitment and a Trip to Bukit Lawang

By:  Letizia, Co-Director, Medan

This last week at the center has been very quiet, but also fun!  The Ramadan holiday was not yet finished, but some students had already started coming back to the center for lessons.  The classes are not full yet, so we have started doing recruitment around the neighborhood.  We promoted the free classes at the center and let all the families know that their children have the opportunity to come to our classes to learn English, math, and computer skills.  It impressed me how many people were shocked to find that our school is free and open to everybody!  They were so enthusiastic!  This is very important, especially for the younger children, who can come to the center at an early age and have a head start gaining confidence with the language.

Another exciting thing is that we are starting to re-organize the center with many new ideas.  We have arranged a new room for co-directors and volunteers, which is not too big but very nice and has a balcony!  We are also starting also to update the archives and IMG_20160717_142808putting all our data online so we will have a more complete idea of all the students that are attending our classes and the progress of the school in general.

I have to admit though, that the most beautiful part of the week was the weekend.  Medan city is a very big and interesting city, but sometimes it makes you want to stay in a quiet and green place, discovering the wonderful Indonesian nature.  Luckily we are very close to many parks and places of a high nature interest.  One of those is the Bukit Lawang Park, where you can find opportunities for trekking and see the orangutan in their natural habitat.

This park is amazing, in the heart of the jungle but also very nice and served with all the touristic comforts.  We didn’t have the time to make an excursion to see the orangutan, but we spent all day close to the river, enjoying nature and relaxing, and getting ready for the new week ahead!
Medan and the places nearby are a continuous discovery!

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Two Days in Jogja, Indonesia

By:  Kristine, Co-Director Jakarta

Indonesia is such a large country that no two places seem the same.  I recently visited Jogja and found it to be very different from any other place I’ve been to in Indonesia over the past 6 months.  Over the course of two days, I was able to see quite a bit of Jogja’s cultural offerings.

My first sightseeing day in Jogja began at 3am because I was heading to Borobudur, a 9th century Buddhist temple, to watch the sun rise.  I arrived at about Borobudur4:30am, where I paid the fee and was given a flashlight and a map.  Off I went, following well-placed signs and other bobbing flashlights, climbing up the stupas of Borobudur in the dark.  I climbed up to the 8th stupa (there are 9) and since I was ahead of most of the huffing and puffing tourists climbing behind me, I found a great spot facing the east.  I settled down to wait.  After about an hour, the sun started to make an appearance.  And I unexpectedly experienced the highlight of my time in Jogja.  I watched the sun rise behind Mount Merapi, an active volcano which was smoldering and smoking as I looked on.  Slowly, the day crept up on us and I saw the mist in the valley below slowly disappear.  It was breathtakingly beautiful and all I could do was soak it in with gratitude.

Once the sun was properly up, I wandered around the temple for a while, then I checked out the museum, had a cup of coffee and some refreshment, and was off again.  For the rest of that morning, I visited Pawon Temple then Mendut Temple.  Then I headed off to Rancang Kencono cave.  This cave has a tree growing out of its entrance and it was pretty cool because I felt like I was in an action movie as I roamed around inside, going as deep into the cave as I could.  To get into the last chamber, I had to practically crawl through a hole and that’s when I held my breath waiting for Indiana Jones to appear (unfortunately, he didn’t).  I wrapped up the day with a 2-hour visit to Sri Gethuk waterfalls, where I blissfully soaked in the sight, sound and spray of the falling water.

My second sightseeing day in Jogja didn’t start until 9 am, when I headed for Taman Sari.  Wow, what a rundown, poorly maintained, nothing-to-see-here disappointment.  On top of that, I had a really bad guide who spoke terrible English then actually told me to tip him after the really bad tour was over.

I hotfooted it away from Taman Sari and headed out of the city to Ullen Sentalu Museum.  This is a museum in the woods, on the way up to Mount Merapi, that houses the recent history of Yogyakarta and Solo’s royal families.  I wasn’t impressed by the royal people but I really liked the museum itself.  It was cool (temperature-wise) and quiet and tucked away in the woods.  I could easily have spent all day there sipping hot chocolate and reading a book while lounging in a deck chair.  In my opinion, it is also a well-curated museum.

Prambanan was my next stop.  Like Borobudur, this is also a 9th century temple but this one is Hindu.  I was impressed by the architecture – building these huge temples back in the 800s could not have been easy.  After a quick rain-spattered visit to Candi Ijo, where I Prambanangot to see the Jogja province spread out below me, it was finally time for me to see the Ramayana Ballet with Prambanan as a backdrop.  Unfortunately, it was still raining and although the organisers tried to wait out the rain, they eventually decided to move the performance indoors.  This meant that I wouldn’t see it with a stunningly lit up Prambanan as a backdrop.  This was a little disappointing but didn’t really dull my excitement.

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The ballet was absolutely beautiful.  It’s not a ballet in the traditional sense but it’s just as good, in my opinion.  It is done in traditional Javanese dance with opulent costumes.  If you ever go to Indonesia, be sure to go to Jogja and see the Ramayana at Prambanan.  Five minutes after this one and a half hour epic drama was finished, I wanted to see it again.  After Borobudur, this was my second favourite experience in Jogja.

I’m so glad I got to see so much of that Jogja.  The people were friendly, the countryside was beautiful and the cultural offerings were extremely satisfying.  Don’t hesitate to go, if you get a chance.

Three Ways IHF Impacted My Life

By:  Nisa, Local Volunteer Aceh

Hi everyone!  First, let me introduce myself. My name is Nisa, and this year I finished the senior level with IHF.  I would like to share my experiences with IHF, both when I was a student and now as a teacher. I am happy to say that now I am a volunteer at IHF and I am teaching class with the children here. To me, they are my younger brothers and sisters at the center. Recently, I have been helping with art classes.  Mr. Sahat always supports me to organize special activities regularly.  I would like to share with you three things that have changed in my life since I joined with IHF.

Being a student at IHF has given me many opportunities to meet people from around the world.  They share their experiences with us and we exchange information about culture and language.  I love studying English here, and I can practice my skills with them.  They correct my mistakes when I am speaking.  These experiences have given me many unforgettable moments and I gained a lot of knowledge to improve my English skills.  I am very proud to say that the Aceh center is a good environment to study and find new friends.  So, if people write positive things about IHF with their own experiences, please believe it!  It is very true.

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This month is when I got the chance to teach art classes.  My first experience was teaching painting with SD5 students.  We made a beautiful painting using our fingertips.  I liked my class this time, we had fun together with painting.  During another class, we made crafts with flannel material.  That time, my class made goody bags.  I gave instructions how to sew the flannel step by step, and helped my students add more stickers on the surface of the bags.  At last, my class produced some wonderful goody bags with different models and colors.

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Being a volunteer is learning how to help others, using what we have.  Now, I realize that to help people through volunteering will give me valuable lessons in my life.  I see many unlucky people with less opportunities.  I found great volunteers at the center and all people in IHF have wonderful hearts and good souls to share knowledge without expecting something in return.  I have learned a lot from them.Felt 1

Thank you very much for giving me an opportunity to write about my experiences with IHF.  I will be happy to share with you again other events and activities at the center.  I hope you can join us and do volunteering at IHF.  Believe me that you will get unforgettable experiences when you decide to come to the center.  I hope you have wonderful days in your life.  See you later!

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Wonderful Days at IHF Kenya

By: Owen, Olivia and Rivers, Voluntourists Kenya

We arrived in Kenya feeling excited, and we got a warm welcome from the staff and kids. After unpacking, we gifted the kids with the footballs we carried here. It was such a pleasant thing to see: the genuine smiles on their faces, showing their shyness图片 3 and happiness. We found that these gifts were exactly what they wanted and it was quite nice to see that we were actually making a contribution to this place.

But, the living conditions were rather tough for us to adjust to: there is no hot water available for bathing, and the food here is pretty simple – merely vegetables, though we have meat every once in while. Kids here desire candy and chocolate, but it is tough for them to get sweets. The children always stare at me and then ask ” could you please give me some candies?”

The kids are really nice here and we immediately became friends. They invited us to go to the river to see the waterfall and to swim. We thought they would be shy and not outgoing at first, and so it was surprising for us to receive such generous invitations from them the first time we met. On the way there, the girls held our hands and asked questions. One of them mentioned that she has always wanted to go to the University of Nottingham, but found it impossible due to the admission fees and difficult exams. Some students are really hardworking: they keep studying even during our center’s movie night. We tried our best to accompany them and solve their homework problems. We are trying to show them how to have a good attitude towards studying but we can’t help with the admission fees. Money shouldn’t be the obstacle of a girl’s dream to get access to higher education, and that’s why they need extra help there.

We also spent a wonderful night together. We sang and played the ukulele together. Kids图片 2 here are interested in instruments and they love the ukulele I brought. However, it is a pity that they have no opportunities to play instruments and to know more about the world. Most of them have no phones and they have such poor knowledge about computers that they don’t even know how to send a email, so we are planning to have computer classes for them next week. Hopefully we can help a little.

Once we asked one of the kids what do you want to be when you grow up. He answered, to build a center like this. It touched our hearts to hear an answer like this. Caring should be passed on, and we’d like to be part of the chain.图片 1

At the end of the first week, we all felt touched. The kids are so talented and they deserve so much more. We really hope we can do the best we can to make them aware that there are people caring for them.

How IHF Changed My Life

By: Mengjie, Work-Study Bali

It is my second week at Bali center, and I’m so glad that I made the decision to
come here. Although the first day the kids and I are were strangers to each
other, they still give me the best welcome I’ve ever had. They are so zealous and have enthusiasm for everything. At first, I thought it would be hard to remember their Indonesian names, but I’ve found that everything happens naturally. I became familiar with each kid while playing with them, learning their characteristics and fortes. They are all quick learners, always curious and passionate. They are naughty sometimes too, but always know when to stop. Most of time they just do that to play with you.

IMG_2889They are even my teachers sometimes. So far, they have already taught
me two magic tricks and how to make a flower using tissue paper. I learned so
much from them and the environment here makes me a happier and easier person.
Living in cites, there are so many things that seem important, brands, a big house, makeup, which all turn out to be unnecessary once you get here. The kids
love and respect you for who you are. You can definitely throw out those things that you find hard to give up, but alienate you from being yourself. It feels good and you should definitely stop hesitating and come to IHF. It will be one of the most treasured memories in your life.

IMG_2954Since this is the second week, I have started to have teaching tasks. My co-director gives me great advice, such as separating knowledge points to make them more understandable for kids, and try to always interact with the kids to attract their attention and let them think for themselves. What’s more, the way IHF staff work and communicate online is worth learning. All the files are in drives are clearly sorted and the Excel documents are clear and helpful. It’s a pity that as a voluntourist I don’t do online work, but overall I enjoyed my time so much and I think it is a wonderful experience to be a volunteer in IHF center.

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Four Days in Singapore

By:  Teresa, Co-Director Medan

Last week I was able to take my four-day break, and I went to Singapore!  One of our local volunteers, Jeni, came with me and we had a great time.  Buddha Tooth Relic TempleWe stayed at a little hotel in the center of Chinatown, next to some excellent Chinese restaurants.  We were also conveniently located near the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, which is a Buddhist temple and museum, housing one of Buddha’s teeth.

Teresa & Jeni

 

 

Our big night out was dinner at the Sky on 57 restaurant, at the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. We dressed in our best, and pretended like we belonged there, amongst the other wealthy customers (while stealthily trying to order only the cheapest items on the menu).  The view was amazing, and definitely worth it.  Nothing beats having a meal at 57 stories high!

Speaking of heights, we also took a ride on the Singapore Flyer, which is a giant Farris wheel.  It provided some beautiful views of the city.  I was surprised at how slowly it moved, creeping alongView of Singapore at night at 30 minutes per rotation.  It is quite dissimilar to the clunky Farris wheels from the county fairs back home! I also had the opportunity to satisfy my girly side, with some shopping at Bugis Village – a local-style market with lots of clothes, shoes, and jewelry.  I even found a great dress for only $4 USD!

I think my favorite activity was simply walking around the city at night.  For a person who normally doesn’t like cities, I was surprised to find Singapore very beautiful, especially at night.  The area we were in was very well laid-out for foot traffic, and exceptionally clean.  There were also many restaurants and shops, and it was very tourist-friendly. Since our time there was limited, there were still quite a few things that we did not get the chance to do, like visit Universal Studios.  I love roller coasters, so that just means that I will have to visit again!

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A Week of Achievement!

By: Sarah, Co-Director IHF Thailand

We have had a very intense week in Chiang Rai.

We are in the rainy season and this was definitely a rainy week. As a result, we did a lot of cleaning work because our roof is broken and every time it rains, the center resembles a swimming pool. The bad weather caused us to experience many other problems, outside of the center too. Remembering that our main modes of transportation are scooters and bikes, it was almost impossible to go outside without get completely soaked.

Arisa and Sarah's selfieOn the bright side, the rain gives us a lot of time to spend with each other. This week, we watched movies, took plenty of selfies and had the most exciting conversations with everyone at the center.

Arisa!!!!!!!The highlight of this week was on Sunday, when I had the opportunity to be fiercely proud of our students Arisa, Kantiya and Darid. We visited their school and I discovered that all three of them received top scholarships for next term.

That is incredible news to us as they are extremely good, hardworking students and it is wonderful to see them rewarded for their efforts. I had the honor of accompanying Arisa onstage to receive her certificate as a student with one of the best averages of the last term.

Our students’ results are as follows:

Arisa ended with an average of 3.64 (out of a maximum of 4);
Kantiya ended with an average of 3.34;
and Darid ended with and average of 3.09.

These extraordinary results confirmed to us that our center’s young students are intelligent and capable of doing anything.

I’m very proud of them and I wish them all the success for the future.

Sweet kiss for Nupon

A Lesson in Love

By: Yaqing, Work-Study Nakuru

The water is a mystery here. Before I came here, I got used to the idea of no hot showers. And I figured I could tolerate that. When I arrived here, I was told that there is not even cold running water. We use water from a big tank, and the water company comes to refill the tank when it runs out.

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Fortunately, two weeks later water started to come regularly, and it was then we started to be disappointed and satisfied. The water may come in the morning or afternoon. It may come after three days, and nobody can wash their uniforms, take showers, or even drink. When the water comes, all the kids are so happy; we wash our clothes, take showers, and save water in buckets—and that’s when there is a shortage of buckets. As a volunteer who needs to prepare the cooking portion for the next day, I can’t always find buckets for storing the rice, ugali, or sugar. They’ve been saved for water or used by others.

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I’d never thought about the severe shortages of everything before I came here—and I find myself using “before I came here” a lot these days. We need buckets for kids, plates to have dinner, uniforms, and needlework…and we don’t always have enough money to purchase food. However, I’m impressed by how much the kids are happily tolerating the difficult situations here. I’ve never heard them complaining about anything. I can feel that they love here so much and they have such a strong desire to go to school. And I can also see how good their behavior is. I remember somebody said, “when you come to volunteer for kids, it’s not them being helped, it’s yourself that’s being helped.” And I know well what he is saying now.

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