Involvement Volunteers International

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9.5 / 10 after 20 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings

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“Oh wow, we have the same birthday” I said gently, sitting cross legged on the floor opposite a woman of my exact age, her name was Kaliti. She smiled weakly. She had been pleased to see me but there was an unbelievable sadness to her that made me want to talk softly and slowly so as not to break her.

It was my third week in Fiji volunteering at the womans commune, a housing commission for Fiji’s destitute. The property houses 124 flats that are rented out for $5 a week to anyone that has nowhere else to go. As a Naturopath, I had come to make house calls on all the residents and do some basic health checks.

Two other women sat with us. Outside you could hear the five children that also lived here playing and giggling. This was my seventh family I’d visited today so I was familiar with the setup of the houses- very little furniture, a small kitchen with nothing in it, a couple of mats on the floor which served as the sitting area/bed for this family of eight and an over powering smell that I can only describe as the smell of poverty.

Slowly this family began to warm to me and through broken English I learned of their story. Kaliti had just come from the hospital after an operation to remove an ovarian cyst. She had been living here helping her auntie who had recently become the sole carer of Kaliti’s 5 cousins. In January, the children’s mother had died from pneumonia, closely followed by their father from tuberculosis in June. Now they all lived here with their grandmother.

The grandmother was 61 years old. She looked tired and stressed. When I asked her about her own health, she began to cry. Through tears she told me that she had recently been diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure and fatty liver disease. She cried not because of her conditions but because of how scared she was that her grandchildren may have no one to care for them if something was to happen to her. On her death bed, her daughter had asked her to take care of the children and the grandmother had pleaded with her that she wasn’t strong enough to raise more children. But she had no choice.

The children are all in primary school. They have no shoes to wear to school. They out grew their sandals and now their thongs have worn out too. All five children have lice, ringworm and scabies.

This wasn’t the first grandmother I had met who was now the sole carer of her grandchildren. It was a common story line. Fijian people place high importance on loyalty to family. It’s inspiring. They will give so much of what they have to others even when they have hardly anything left to give.

Program:
Location:
Posted: November 30, 2017
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9
By: Jessica.T
Age:
31

Home stay – It was terrific! Our family were very welcoming and catered a lot to our needs during our stay there. We had an amazing start of the trip with them briefing us through some historical, cultural, social, political and economic situation in Fiji. It was very important for us as first-time foreigners visiting Fiji. The house was cozy and we definitely felt at home during our stay.

Volunteering – It has been a great pleasure to be able to do this voluntary service with our self-designed activities that suit the need of the students at the school. We really loved how IVI and the school, where we volunteered at, had given us so much autonomy to create our own activities and with the way we carried out our service. It’s definitely something we had not experience elsewhere and with other NGOs we’ve worked with.

Comments on the team, food and accommodation:

The food was great and helped us understand more about the local eating habits and lifestyle. The accommodation was cozy and comfortable. The only thing was that when the weather got cooler and no sun, there was no warm water; but otherwise, everything was great. We really appreciate the team’s effort and prompt reply to our questions and it had been very helpful for us to complete our volunteer project.

Program:
Location:
Posted: November 25, 2017
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
10
Age:

Spending time with my host family, getting to know the staff outside of volunteering, and working with the children at the school site.

Comments on the team, food and accommodation:

Everything went well. Everyone was eager to make me feel welcome and to assist in any needs as they developed.

Any improvements to help us be better:

I was volunteering for a limited time, but it would have been nice meeting other volunteers. Suggestions for sightseeing, travel arrangements, etc would also be beneficial.

The special needs school would benefit from continued speech therapy support. If there is a way that I can be a resource in advertising such need(s), etc, I would be open to providing assistance.

Jennifer

Program:
Location:
Posted: November 25, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
10
By: Jenny123
Age:
Program:
Location:
Posted: November 25, 2017
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9
Age:

Highlights of the trip:

To be honest, every single thing I did was a highlight and meant equally as much to me. The whole experience I had in Cambodia is a blessing! If I had to pick out some most significant memories and skills I acquired, it would have to be my new Cambodian high school friends and learning to do brickwork. Although I signed up for the construction project placement, I did take on a bit of teaching for an evening class because the original teacher got in a motorbike accident and I volunteered to take over in the meantime. It was due to this unexpected opportunity that I got to meet several of the local high school students, who are now friends I cherish. On the other hand, I did, as expected, learn construction skills. I had never worked with cement, trench-building, or brickwork before. But with the help of the construction coordinator and the other volunteers, we were able to accomplish a long drainage trench that would prevent puddling in the new school area.

Comments on the team, food and accommodation:

The team, food and accommodation all contributed to making this volunteering experience in Cambodia unforgettable. The coordinators and staff at the project site were extremely friendly and easy-going. Not only were they flexible with our various requests, they were also very organized in helping us arrange transportation during the weekends, and providing us any other things/assistance we needed. They made us feel comfortable by acting as our friends and often contributed to our conversations, bringing smiles to our faces and warmth to our hearts. Moreover, the food was both nutritious and abundant. We always had fruit and enough rice, vegetables and other dishes for everyone. They were able to provide both regular and vegetarian/vegan items based on the requirements of the volunteers. Finally, the accommodation itself was decent. The rooms were large enough for 3-4 people and the beds were comfortable. Most importantly, the owner of the accommodation is extremely friendly. Although he could not speak English, he always cared for us in his way, and showed us incredible hospitality.

Any improvements to help us be better:

I really enjoyed the program and could think of few things that need improvement. The one thing was that I did not know that we could leave the program site during the weekends and come back on Sunday evening. Many of the other volunteers left to spend the weekend in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, and other places, which allowed them to combine volunteer work with spare time/sight-seeing. I think it would be good if the welcome pack could include a few sentences about this, and that the local coordinators helped to arrange the transportation/taxis, so that future volunteers could make better plans for their stay in Cambodia.

Thank you,

Angela

Program:
Location:
Posted: November 19, 2017
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
10
By: ang120
Age:

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