Our Favourite Volunteering Projects

As today is International Volunteer Day (IVD) I thought I’d spend some time reflecting on our favourite volunteering projects over the last 2 years.

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El Hato School (courtesy: http://www.lasmanosdc.org)

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San Animal Santuario, Aguilas, Spain
I’m currently volunteering at San Animal loving the opportunity to be both hands-on with the animals at the shelter, as well as working behind the scenes on social media & helping with events.
San Animal is a small charity that seeks to rehome dogs & cats, both here in Spain, as well as the rest of Europe.
Working with the charity over a longer period of time, has not only given me a chance to help the animals (who often have terrible backgrounds of neglect) but also to form a new network of friends with a great group of people.

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El Hato School – Antigua, Guatemala

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We spent a total of 3 weeks in Antigua, Guatemala (one of our all-time favourite places). During the first week we found out about a village school set up by Los Manos de Christine, which helped the local children gain access to education (as well as English lessons). We spent 2 weeks assisting & teaching at El Hato.

I spent my time divided between Kindergarten, Pre-School & Year 1; whilst Colin worked with the older children.
The children were the friendliest & most welcoming I have ever met, & I was sad to leave (although I have many wonderful memories).

Our memories are summed up perfectly in this great montage of photos (by Hank Harris) put together by Kathy Keffeler. Thanks to Kathy for letting me use this.

For more details of our experience at El Hato see our blog El Hato School

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English Practice in Laos at Big Brother Mouse – See Website
`… Many people in Laos, especially young people, are eager to learn English. But few of them have teachers who are fluent in English…’

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Photo courtesy of Big Brother Mouse

We went along & the sessions were packed with a range of people of all ages. Some wanted to go through their school homework, some to practise their pronunciation or a few who just wanted to pick up a few phrases they could use with English speaking tourists.
Laos is amazing country with an interesting history & culture.
We learned a lot about this, especially from the local Hmong people & the novice monks who regularly attended.

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Teaching English in Bocas Del Toro & Boquete, Panama
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Many language schools, providing local language lessons to tourists & longer term travellers, also offer free English lessons to local people as a way of giving back to the community.

In Bocas, we visited Habla Ya, to offer our services as teaching assistants or language practice.
To our surprise, they asked us to teach! Having just completed my TEFL qualification at the time, I was keen to practise, but nervous, as it was my first experience of teaching English!
We spent nearly 3 weeks teaching evening classes 3 times a week & had a great time meeting local people (who also helped us with our Spanish).

When we arrived in Boquete, we found there was a sister school there & again taught evening classes several times a week.
See blog

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Volunteer photographer in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

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Photo courtesy of Comunidad Connect Facebook

Colin wanted to volunteer on a short term project, whilst I attended an intensive Spanish course for a week. He found a small NGO called Comunidad Connect who needed a photographer for the Junior Baseball League competition.

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These have been our favourite volunteering projects so far. I hope that we have many more in future years.

For our experiences on volunteering whilst travelling, see How to find volunteering opportunities

Written by Dawn

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