Original Volunteers

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I spend one month (August 2016) in the Original Volunteers project set in Thailand. I volunteered as an English teacher in a primary school in Phang Nga, southern Thailand. During my stay there I also have the opportunity to collaborate at the Sena School English Camp for teens.

I would describe my stay as adventurous, enjoyable, rich and worthwhile experience. For this reason I truly recommend this rewarding experience with Original Volunteers. This company offers a good value for money; I can affirm the costs are reasonably priced. Also, provides you with advices and support before and during your stay there. The facilities for the volunteers are impressive good taking into account the poor place where the project takes place.

Teaching English to Thai children provides them a wide range of their opportunities to work and find a good job position in their adulthood. I wanted to help and give a better future for the children. As the same way I wanted to give the moral of the children a huge boost and present them enjoyable English activities. This was one of the main reasons which makes me took the decision of being a volunteer. Collaborate with this project let me met my expectations. It makes me feel really good to be able to collaborate in that local community to improve and increase their English level.

Volunteers went out to small town where little or no English is spoken. There we taught in local schools every day. The town I did my volunteer was called Khok Kloy. The weekdays all the volunteers slept in the same hostel pretty close to the different schools where we collaborate. Every morning a tuk-tuk taxi pick up us and drop of to the schools. There were two teacher volunteers per school (there were never a volunteer teaching alone in a school). I did class of English to children of different ages (from nursery to 12 years old) during all morning (5 hours per day). I must say I felt really comfortable teaching to that school. The teachers and the director of the school were really nice with the volunteers during all our stay there. We have lunch with the teacher staff who share us their food. They are really interested in meeting us and let us be part of the staff team. Students were really motivated for English classes and meet new volunteers from other countries.

Teachers follow the Thai Government curriculum which makes the lessons relevant to the children education. The classes we taught in the school where already programmed by Original Volunteers teachers team, but we also have the opportunity to create new activities at the end of the class or change the way to present (if we thought it could be easily learned by the students). To sum up, we follow the program but we were free to create new activities and English games to motivate them. Even thought they are already motivated for learning English. As teachers reported, children enjoy the volunteer’s activities and they are “hungry for English”.

I will appeal to the food. As I said before Thai teachers share their meal with the volunteers. It was a good excuse to eat and taste the real Thai food cooked by the teachers. Disappointingly, in the hostel the food service is limited. But there are a thai tesco, street markets, shops, and pharmacy in fifteen minutes walking from there.

During my stay there I felt well looked after by the coordinators and other teachers of the project. There was always somebody there able to help and assistance me. When it comes the communication with the company was excellent being always happy to answer all my queries and doubts.
Before I went to Thailand the company helped me get in touch with other futures volunteers who will share the same project during my stay there. I was able to meet and chat them before my arrival at the project. Despite I went there alone, I never felt as I was on my own. We created a really nice volunteer teachers team in the school where the project took place. We also have the opportunity to share trips around the country of Thailand when the project ends.

It was definitely a worthwhile experience that I will never forget. I came back to my country with my bag full of lovely and brilliant memories from Thailand. Thanks Original Volunteer for let me be part of your admirable, skilful and great team.
You will be always a part of me.

Program:
Location:
Posted: June 6, 2017
Overall:
8
Support:
8
Value:
8
By: MarRof
Age:
23
Program:
Location:
Posted: June 6, 2017
Overall:
8
Support:
8
Value:
8
By: Mar Rof
Age:

I had some annual leave and I wanted to do something worthwhile with my time off. I did a quick search online and filled out a form for Original Volunteers based on the fact it seemed reasonably priced compared to other sites I'd seen, and they had projects in countries that I'd love to visit.
Within a couple of hours I had a call back from their team, they didn't try to push me into anything, they were really helpfully and it was so easy and simple to do, I just had to book my flights and advise them of the day so they can arrange a pick up. A week later I was on a flight to Marrakesh, they'd briefed me well on the phone and answered all my questions, they always called back and was there to help. I was even able to get in touch with other volunteers that I'd be working with.
We stayed in the old town called the Medina, in a Riad which was so nice, much better than I was expecting. There were very few tourists, I loved that about the trip, it was real life, no holiday resorts on the doorstep, but I never felt unsafe. Some may find it a bit of a culture shock but actually Morroco is not so bad, there's Internet, everyone seems to have Facebook and instagram and there are short taxi trips to more touristy areas.
The hosts were 2 local guys who spoke good English, they was really friendly and was there for us all week.
It was a quiet week for volunteers, there were only 5 of us, all girls. We had the best week, we chose to share rooms, we felt close friends from day one and worked so well together that we really felt we accomplished things during our project work.
The projects we visited were so enjoyable, we took lots of arts and crafts and made creative things with the kids, I know they really appreciated us being there and having someone give them attention and have fun with them, it made them smile, it alters your mindset, to share joy and gratitude from simple pleasures. It was the perfect get away and a great introduction to volunteering.
I'd definitely recommend Original Volunteers to anyone who was looking to volunteer abroad. It was hassle free for me, and I made some brilliant friends and memories,
I'd love to go again soon.

Program:
Location:
Posted: April 24, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
10
By: MissE
Age:

I have just recently arrived back after volunteering in Cusco, Peru for 10 weeks! I can honestly say that it was the most amazing experience ever! I have learned so much from doing this volunteering program and I can't thank Original Volunteers enough! I have always wanted to volunteer abroad but was a little bit hesitant as I am only 18 and I was really nervous about going all the way to Peru on my own. Original volunteers were so kind and friendly from the minute I contacted them to enquire more about the project. They immediately made me feel at ease and reassured me that many volunteers travel out on their own but are never really on their own once they get there as there are so many other volunteers to make friends with. I knew then that I really liked the sound of the whole project and that I liked how friendly Original Volunteers were so I just decided to go for it and book everything! On the lead up to going, I was again really nervous about the whole trip because it was a big thing - going abroad for the first time and going alone at the age of 18. But Original Volunteers were so helpful! I felt like I was being a nuisance e-mailing them all the time with my questions but they were always more than happy to reply with informative answers to my questions. I felt so supported and felt like any worry or question I had about the trip, I could just e-mail Original Volunteers and they would reply with a helpful answer either the same day or the following day. They were so great. When I arrived in Cusco, no one was there to pick me up. I did panic a little as I had just landed in a different continent and no one was there to pick me up so it was a little bit scary. However, Original Volunteers had provided me with so much information before I left that I knew what to do. They had given me the Project Coordinator's number and so I just phoned that and the coordinator very politely apologised that he was running late and said that he would be there to pick me up as soon as possible. So it really wasn't that much of an issue - I just had to wait a little longer, but it was good to know that someone was coming to pick me up. When the co-ordinator arrived at the airport to pick me up, he was very kind and talkative. He instantly made me feel relaxed and welcome because he was so cheery and talkative. When we got to the girls orphanage, Jeremy (the coordinator) showed me to my room and introduced me to the children. For the first couple of days, I felt like I didn't know what I was doing as the routine of the orphanage wasn't explained to me and Jeremy wasn't always around. Therefore I felt like I had no one to really ask for help if I needed it. As Jeremy wasn't really around the only way to contact him was by text which he didn't always reply to quickly. It was easier for some of the other volunteers who spoke Spanish as they could ask the Mamita (the woman who looks after the children and cooks for them) any questions that they had about the orphanage and the routine. So all I am saying is that it would be useful to know some Spanish as it is very difficult to communicate when you know zero Spanish like me. However, I don't think this is Original Volunteers fault - they provided me with so much support leading up to the trip but when I got there, I just felt like the co-ordinator could have been around a lot more. And yes, having some Spanish phrases will make everything easier but I still had the most amazing experience ever and I didn't know any Spanish whatsoever. It was strange not being able to communicate with the children at first but I picked up some words and phrases as time went on and the children were really interested in learning English too! But really the children are so appreciative of even just your presence. They were always so excited to see me each day and it just really made me feel good. They are the happiest, most well-mannered and well-behaved children that I have ever met. They always had a smile on their face, were always giving me hugs and always thanked me when I treated them to an ice cream or when I took them to the park. Some other volunteers and I also took them ice-skating and to the chocolate museum which they absolutely loved. It just feels amazing to know that you are bringing joy to these children's lives by just being there and by showing them love and care. I also brought a massive suitcase full of toys and arts and crafts and toiletries for them. The kids loved that I brought something differnet for them to do each day. I brought paint, pens, pencils, colouring books, stamps, crayons, loom bands, origami, play dough, plasticine , knitting, card games, puzzles etc. The children are very content and grateful and so they were very happy when I and the other volunteers took them to the park for a couple of hours a day but they really enjoyed doing the various different activities that I brought for them as it was something different for them to do and for some of the children it was their first time doing some of those activities. I bonded with the childrne so quickly and grew to love the them. It was honestly the best couple months of my life as I had so much fun with the children and everyday they made me smile and laugh and I did the same for them which made me feel like I was doing good. The children come from a completely different world and have so little yet they are so happy. The whole experience was a complete learning curve for me as you really learn what's important in life. Sometimes we can get so caught up in our modern life's that we forget how grateful we are compared to these children who have very little money, toys, clothes etc. It's just made me realise how lucky I am and how much I want to continue helping those who are less fortunate. It also just shows that you don't need lots of money to be happy. The children were so happy because they were receiving so much love, care and affection from the volunteers and their Mamita and the rest of the team. It was so hard having to say goodbye to the children as I grew so close to them and felt like I had really bonded with them. I also just wanted to say that Original Volunteers were right when they said that most volunteers go alone and that you will never actually be alone when you get there. The day I arrived at the orphanage I met other volunteers who were all so lovely and made my experience even better. I went to Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountain with some Volunteers that I made friends with. I am still in touch with the other volunteers that I met and hope to remain friends with them. The only negative thing that I have to say about my experience, but again I think it is more down to the Co-ordinator rather than Original Volunteers, is that there were some people staying in the same accommodation as me which was at the girls orphanage. They weren't volunteering through Original Volunteers and to me I don't know why they were even there. They didn't spend any time with the children and were so noisy. Late at night and during the early hours of the morning they were partying, drinking and blasting music when there are signs all throughout the accommodation saying that no alcohol is allowed in the accommodation and that you should be respectful and not make any noise when others are trying to sleep. I felt sorry for the children that probably could have heard them when they were trying to get to sleep. But anyway, I would like to give a massive thank you to Original Volunteers for giving me the best expierence that I could ever ask for! Thank you so much for all of the support that you gave me and for enabling me to take part in such a life-changing experience!

I put together a video of my volunteering trip to Peru which you can watch by clicking the link. Hopefully it will encourage some of you guys who are thinking of doing a volunteering project to just go for it and do it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOM8l4kok6o

Program:
Location:
Posted: April 19, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: Lucille
Age:
18

I came here for a month and it was absolutely the best thing I ever did in my life, I've booked to go for another month and I leave in June! I would recommend original volunteers to anyone and everyone. The riad I stayed in was all you need and everyone I met was extremely friendly and welcoming, I was picked up and driven back to the airport all in good time also.

The co-coordinators for each project were very friendly and always helpful, there were 2 projects a day to take part in for the most part (you didn't have to attend but I went every time they were available). The food is locally available much cheaper from the markets right by the main riad along with fresh smoothies and there's a bakery a few doors down with hot fresh bread in the mornings. Getting to and from places is very cheap in taxis but you can sometimes expect others to get in your taxi half way through which is a little crazy at first. This generally doesn't happen on the way to projects with the coordinator, also check prices with your coordinator if you plan to take taxis outside of project times as sometimes they aren't too honest on the price ;)

I visited street kids regularly and even outside of project times, generally bringing them smiles and entertainment with lots of gymnastics and teaching some muay thai where I was allowed to, fantastic experience with wonderful kids. I did the same at the orphanage which was my favourite project, tons of lively lads, all very active so expect to run around a lot as they'll keep you in shape! Plenty of football played there too. Done tons of drawing and face painting, fed the homeless every week which means going to pick up from the supermarket with the cost shared between everyone in the riad who's happy to chip in and then preparing lunches and handing them out in the square.

The baby orphanage was lovely to visit but I very nearly adopted one of the babies there and it was really hard to go home after bonding with them, as it was with all the kids elsewhere. There was a girls orphanage I visited where I reluctantly let them paint my face in the name of good fun, I ended up staying painted all day and it was all a good laugh.

I went to the Sahara desert on an excursion and the Berber house, both great experiences outside of project times.

Overall everywhere we went the main thing was keeping the kids happy, they are far less fortunate than all of us and it will really bring you back down to earth! Highly recommended!

Can't wait for June :)

Program:
Location:
Posted: April 18, 2017
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
24

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