TESTIMONIES ARE A GREAT WAY TO TELL NEW APPLICANTS ABOUT OUR VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCES.
I had a very intensive experience working for six weeks on sugar cane farms and in the Permaculture garden in this beautiful landscape. Key to this was not only the projects itself but the close interaction with the project leader and her family in everyday life. In the beautiful guest house I found everything I needed to enjoy every day.
I enjoy long evenings outside writing my dairy or just watching the stars and garden. We spent a wonderful time over Christmas and New Year’s eve. I was happy to be there for Mrs Lola’s 80 Birthday, some real original experiences. What impressed me most about the farm work was the artisanal traditions of more than 100 years of history are preserved.
Life is really rural and basic and collides with the modern world. I learn all about sugar cane and the artisanal processing into Panela a rock of sugar use to make a traditional hot drink.
During our trip in Latin America, my boyfriend and I found the founder of the Volunteer In Colombia Organization where, we stopped three weeks in the village of San Javier. As I am a nurse, I have been proposed to do a volunteer job at the hospital of the Town of La Mesa. Extremely well received despite not having a very concrete proposal only my desire to offer my help.
The Head of Nursing, proposed me to integrate the team of the obstetric gynecology service, to look for the differences between the two countries and perhaps the possible faults. First, it was a surprise to me, to discover a new method of formidable and rare care performed by trained personnel to do Doula. I have attended the reception and accompaniment interviews given by the psychotherapist. Observe the physical preparation technique for childbirth and enrich myself with a new and exciting experience.
Second, In the last week I have given a large number of hospital staff training for about one hour for three days in a room assigned for this purpose using a video projector. This has left me immense satisfaction in the exchange, which was my theoretical contribution against a gift of personal discovery. A pleasure to teach that gives birth to the idea of a future professional evolution.
I also attended the last days at the Village School. I want to thank the entire service team and the hospital staff in particular and with affection the chief nurse and the organizer of project the Blanca Usuga, for having so much enthusiasm and love for me, thanks to this person I not only found an interesting learning but also an unforgettable human experience, rich with positive emotions.
For three weeks it was a shared pleasure. The cooperation with Professor Daza was intuitive at the pedagogical level of class preparation until notation as at the personal level. The students seemed very motivated in the realization of artistic activities, they have done Land art and theater games in their free time.
The non-violent communication training was adapted in the school that, like all the institutions in the world, are damaged by sources of verbal, physical or psychological violence.
The students asked the rector if they could organize a flag hoist to thank for my work, and when he accepted they organized everything in an autonomous way, with hymns, songs and speeches.
In addition to volunteering I have shared a lot of time with Blanca Usuga and I have developed my art skills with her mother who paints very well, and shares her activities with the volunteers of the organization.
I want to thank the pedagogical team of the San Javier school, and particularly Professor Daza for his professionalism and smiles. Many thanks also to the students who participated seriously and creatively in the classes. And I want to thank Blanca Usuga and her mother Lola for the generosity they express with the volunteers and with the villagers.
For 6 weeks I had the great opportunity to volunteer in agriculture in the Volunteer in Colombia project. The objective was to work and help the Romero Family in their sugar cane farm. There I not only had the opportunity to learn everything about sugarcane, I also learned techniques to make bocachi fertilizer, which we then taught the family to improve their crops.
With the Romero Family prepare the mill for grinding, in which the cane must be cut, loaded in mules to the area of the mill, organize, grind, cook, mold the panela, bag the panela, seal the bag, pack the panela in Cardboard boxes and leave them ready for sale, clean the area of the mill after finishing the first milling and sowing new seeds.
Also, it was a great experience to be, develop and help in all stages of the production of a poster dedicated to the production of Bocachi fertilizer. Spend full time creating this one, including research in the library and search the print site. In total, 15 posters were produced which were distributed to all producers that are in the Sugarcane program.
I had the opportunity to help in the Youth Centre to prepare the children’s Christmas, organizing the room to serve the food that the children provided for a sharing event, help organize a toy house to store the children’s gifts and to be pending for children while playing during the event.
I took the time to learn and investigate how to make organic fertilizers and insecticides, including theory about Zero Badget Farming, where I learned about the benefits of the NEEM tree. After meeting him, we began a search in Colombia to obtain two which were sown.
I Participate in all the Christmas and New Year activities among which are found, the decoration of the house, Christmas shopping, food shopping to prepare the Christmas dinner, help prepare and cook for both events Christmas and New Year family party.
Also, I Participate in the trips. In conclusion for me it was a learning and collaboration experience that today has been the motivation to start a career and now I am the administrator of a sustainable agriculture project in my community in Germany.
TESTIMONY SASKIA & JAN
We enjoyed our time with Blanca, her mother, dog and cat and the whole society in La Mesa very much.
When we were sitting in the air plane to Bogota our feelings were diverse. We will be part of a social project that is 9.189 km away from home – in a culture that we heard about a lot before our trip. A culture that seemed to be completely different to our home-country Germany. But as we saw Blanca who was waiting for us in the pick-up area of the airport we felt warmheartedly welcomed from the very first second. Blanca is fluently in English and a very open-minded person. Due to the fact that she spent several months in UK for studying, she knows the difference between the European and Colombian culture. Therefore, we did not hesitate to ask her everything that came into our mind and that we did not understand.
Before our first day at the social project, Blanca supported us with developing a plan of what we could do with the kids in school (especially because our Spanish level was very low). At the first day of school Blanca introduced us to the headteacher and told her what we would like to do with the kids. The head-teacher and especially the kids were very nice and friendly.
During the breaks and even in the afternoon in the youth-center the kids were interested in everything we did and told them. As we do not have a teaching-background we decided to teach only small groups of 5 to 10 kids. We sang English songs and learned some vocabularies in school.
For lunch we experienced several restaurants in the center of La Mesa. We tried different traditional Columbian food and sometimes we also enjoyed a nice Italian pizza or we explored the traditional food-market.
In the afternoon, we played with the kids in the Youth Center. The Youth Center is well equipped so that there are different activities every day. There is a room with a beamer, where we loved to dance with the kids typical South-American rhythms. Also, we trained them with several skills in the computer-room, went out for kite-flying, played chess, did painting lessons or played football. All in all, there is nothing that you cannot do at the Youth Center.
After the youth center, we were very exhausted but happy. Hence, we headed back home where Blanca always prepared a nice dinner (also vegetarian) and her mother was waiting for us to beat us in Memory or Tetris. The evenings together with Blanca and her mother were absolutely one of our highlights. This time, we learned a lot about Columbian history, the transformation of the country within the last years, the food and the environment.
As the environment in and around La Mesa is so nice and juicy-green, we spent the weekends in the nature. We took the challenge to hike up to the top of the mountains – the dog (Niño) guided us all the way up and down (although it was not the direct way 😉) or we went to very nice waterfalls together with Blanca.
All in all, we loved to work with the kids and we loved to be hosted by Blanca and her mother. Finally, we would say: It does not matter how long you stay, your experience will last a lifetime.