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Children's Home - Bungwan - Thailand - Volunteer Reviews

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Raymond - 2014

“The owners Sam and Gai were both lovely people and I will remember the children forever. Everyday their smiles and sense of humour would make my day. The work at the farm is hard but so much fun at the same time. This was a great way to experience the Thai was of life away from the towns and cities. We all ate together like a big family and the food was out of this world. It was all home grown and freshly prepared. I was so sad to leave and I hope to go back again next year.

What was a typical day at the project?
Up at 7am, have a nice healthy breakfast and saying goodbye to the kids as they went to school, chill out for an hour or so, start work for the day (cleaning chicken pen, fetching eggs, cleaning and preparing fruit, ploughing a new rice field, chopping wood in the forest) squeeze in some lunch and dinner, play with the kids and then sleep!

What did you find most rewarding?
Being around the children, they were amazing and have a great attitude to everything.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Learn the basics of the Thai language, like hello and thank you. Have an open mind and be flexible.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It’s an experience that will help your self-development and broaden your mind, as well as the satisfaction that comes with helping others.

Why did you choose Pod?
Word of mouth and trust.”

Michael - 2014

"The project was a good trip, and everyone in the orphanage was extremely friendly. Teaching in the local school was a great experience; all the kids instantly loved you and paid attention to what you were telling them, which meant a lot. All jobs around the orphanage broadened my horizons on just how much there is to do in rural areas of Thailand. Cleaning out the chicken poo, cutting back bamboo trees, weeding, painting, etc. Doing those with the older children gave me a great feeling of involvement in the grand scheme of things.

Pod were extremely helpful (Ellie in particular) beforehand with all the pointers on what to bring and how to prepare myself and helping with travel arrangements. As well as during my stay, by checking up on how I was getting on. I felt like they were very well organised and that my experience was most important to them which helped me to enjoy the project even more."

Rhiannon - 2014

“I had such a great time at the Bungwan children's home. Sam and Gai are such lovely people and the children are amazing!! The food is also great and you most definitely won't go hungry! We also got to teach at the local school which was a very rewarding experience.

I had a great time at the Bungwan children's home and would definitely recommend it to friends; the food was great as was the overall experience.

What was a typical day at the project?
Every morning we have breakfast at 7 and most mornings we taught at the school for three hours. We arrive back from the school in time for lunch (and most days a really refreshing smoothie!), we have an hours rest and then we help out with chores in the afternoon such as helping with the chickens and on the organic farm. Then we have an hour to play with the children at the home followed by dinner at 6. After dinner we help wash up and then the rest of the evenings are free. Sometimes Sam and ago take you on trips to great local places such as the waterfall and Thai market.

I found teaching at the school the most rewarding, it was really refreshing to see children who were so eager to learn.

What did you find most challenging?
The most challenging for me were the afternoon tasks such as cleaning out the chicken house. These tasks are quite tiring but still really good fun and a great chance to bond with the older children at the home. After teaching in the mornings, there's sometimes not much to do in the afternoons meaning hanging around a bit, on the plus side this gives you extra time to get to know the other volunteers!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
I would advise everyone to do it and to have an open mind. To use their initiative to find things to do.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
I think it is a truly great experience and one of the few ways you get to experience a different culture, it's also very rewarding helping other people, and I have learnt so much from the local people.”

Rumiko - 2014

"I think the most rewarding part of the project was to spend time with the children. Every day I did something different. I would normally wake up around six o'clock and eat breakfast with the family. Then the kids would leave to go to school and I would start helping the older people clean up the kitchen. Some days I would help clean the chicken house, other days I would clean the children's room. There were days were I helped out in the palm farm. I also spent a few days plucking out weeds, to make it ready for farming. In addition to this I went to the local school and taught some basic English! Once the children came back from school we played soccer, volleyball, and badminton as well. There were days as well in which Sam took me to the local market with the children. Overall, you would experience something new every day. Being with the children was very inspiring as well because all of them are strong willed and patient and they all showed respect for each other.

What I found challenging was just getting used to the environment. But after a few days, I adapted to the area and really enjoyed the hard work and the lifestyle at the home. You end up loving the place and the family so much that saying goodbye was very challenging for me.

Thailand has a very unique culture and sometimes things come as a surprise, but you just have to be open-minded and you would end up loving the differences. I was very unsure about everything when I first got there, I didn't know what to expect. But now I sincerely believe that it was worth participating in this project. The children were all very sweet. Some took longer to open up but once they did it was heart-warming. Gai and Sam were very kind people as well and you could really tell that they care a lot for the children."

Muriel - 2014

“I had a unique experience that I will always remember. I learned how to live a simple life, be open minded, compassionate and respectful of others, to give love and never stop learning.

A typical day at the project involved waking up around 5-6AM, cold shower, breakfast between 6:30 and 7:00AM, washing dishes with girls, and then cleaning the chicken house with Gai. I was busy painting the volunteer house with the help of the kids. Lunch was then around 12:00-12:30 PM. I would then spend time with kids and have dinner around 6:00-6:30PM. There’s a market each Friday until 9:00AM and Sam can drive you to a bigger market to exchange money or buy some supplies for the home. I accompanied sam to buy some paints. There are also times where you can relax, enjoy Thai nature, listen to music, check your emails, write or read.

I learned that I always have to work hard and be thankful for what I have and that it is important to step out from the comfort zone and push myself. I learned that fear is only within me and that there are hundreds of doors out there and life can be beautiful in many ways even when living poorly. I learned to stay positive. Everything I did was new and exciting for me. The children’s home needs people who can give support and improve the daily life of the children.

What did you find most rewarding?
The lessons you learn throughout your journey, some stories or events might inspire you. You definitely become a better person when you're back home. Helping kids and seeing their smile or seeing them learn something new or discover something new

What did you find most challenging?
Trying to immerse myself and help and make use of the time I had whilst coping with a new environment, weather, living conditions, bugs and insects.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Enjoy every moment, teach the family and kids something new.

Why did you choose Pod?
They were very friendly, reliable, great follow up and give an accurate and complete description of the project.”

James & Rebecca

"We stayed for a wonderful week. As it was the end of the rainy season, we worked with the family to weed vegetable patches, preparing them for seeding and growing in the coming weeks. We stayed onsite, lived, ate, worked and played with the family and the children. It has been an amazing experience, to see how well the children are cared for, how much the orphanage is like a family – providing love and care for all the children. It has been incredibly warming to be able to help and be part of the support to the children.

Thank you to all the family, we thoroughly recommend the experience to other volunteers – get involved and help this very worthwhile home provide support to the children."

Steve

"We arrived not knowing what to expect, over the week my mother and I stayed we became part of a beautiful family. Sam and Gai care for 15 children 3 of whom are their own but share their love equally among all. We have made bamboo lattice, built fences, played football, taught English, sung songs and ran around laughing for hours, not to mention eating the best Thai food cooking by Gai and the children."

Robin

"I have a family of my own to love and now I have another to love. Enjoy the wonderful Thai hospitality, the smiles that make you smile back and enjoy an experience that only comes from giving. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Add another dimension to your travel and feel the difference. We look forward to coming back to see the chickens and their house which has been our project whilst here."

Lucy

"I’ve just spent two superb weeks here. Gai, Sam and all the children have been so warm and welcoming, coming here really is like having an instant family! I’m really happy to have been included in so much around the home: going to the markets with Gai, helping to dig the new pond with Sam & the children, playing games, doing homework, helping (I hope!) with coconut oil. There were special occasions to: I was here for Christmas which was a lot of fun, food and giggles, we also had an awesome trip to beautiful Bangsak beach one morning, again a lot of giggles. One of the highlights for me was being able to teach at the local school and my enormous thanks to Gai & Sam for helping to arrange that, it was more than I’d hoped for. Gai’s cooking deserves a very special mention. I hope to be back to visit again soon."

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Caribbean Children's Home - Belize - Volunteer Reviews

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Harriet - 2015

"I really enjoyed my time at Liberty, I met some great people (other volunteers, the staff and the children) and found it a great experience to learn about Belize and Belizean Culture. I was also able to travel a lot! The staff at Liberty were so nice and relaxed that the other volunteers and I went away for two nights to San Pedro (one of the Cayes) and San Ignacio too. I really enjoyed getting to see more of Belize and meeting more of the locals too, and I felt i was able to get a really authentic experience.

The laid back nature of the Children’s Home could also be challenging too, as it was often hard to see where I could help. I would recommend staying longer than I did (2 weeks) as I found it hard to get into a routine and it would have been nicer to spend longer with the children to really get to know them better (and possibly them me!). But on the whole, this has been an amazing experience, it has really given me confidence to travel by myself - and inspired me to travel to new places! - and I also learnt to be a little more laid back and not panic or stress over little things (a big part of Belizean culture!) which I hope I will never lose or forget.

What was a typical day at the Children’s Home in Belize?
No day was really the same at the project! But there was a basic structure of waking up before 7 to go and have breakfast with the children. Afterwards you could walk to the bus stop or school with some of the children, or help to clear up after breakfast. I spent most mornings in the preschool helping with decorations for graduation, or helping the children with their letters. Circle time was at 9 and that was really sweet to watch! And one morning I spent with a little boy who was off school as he was ill. Lunch was from 11.30-12.30 and afterwards we would help clean up. I found the afternoons harder to find things to do, so would often use the time to go to the shops, buy water or do washing or something. The children would then return home from school after 3 and then could help with homework and then play or talk to them afterwards. Dinner would be at 5.30, which we would then help clean up from if a child wasn't on punishment! The children would go to bed after dinner, so the evenings were pretty free to do what you wanted. When I was there the church was holding a "crusade" where there was a service every night, so one evening I went along with some of the older children.

What did you find most rewarding?
I really enjoyed talking with the children, and watching the talent contest was great fun. I also really enjoyed helping in the preschool as they were getting ready for graduation, so just helping with making decorations with the children's mothers was really nice.

What did you find most challenging?
If I did it again I would definitely go for longer, so as to make better relationships with the children and so I could feel more comfortable in the routine there. I also found it hard to understand Creole!! They call it a "dialect" but really it's a new language!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
I would recommend going for longer than 2 weeks, so as to really get to know the children. I would also recommend bug spray and covering up in the evenings!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
I feel volunteering abroad gave me an invaluable experience, increased my confidence and gave me a really authentic experience of another country. I think traveling in general will do this, but volunteering allows you to give something back and teaches you to be grateful for what you have.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Mainly due to their website! The Belize children's home just sounded so good, and I was interested in doing shorter placements. I also found their prices quite good compared to others, and they are a non-profit organisation."

Kia - 2015

"Overall this has been a wonderful experience, I have formed bonds and friendships with many of the people here and I hope to return next year!

What was a typical day at the Caribbean Children’s Home?
Breakfast, work at the preschool, lunch, relax time, help kids with homework, play with kids, dinner, cleaning, bed.

What did you find most rewarding?
Helping the kids with schoolwork

What did you find most challenging?
Understanding some of the Creole

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Remember you are a role model to the kids, you can't always give them everything.

Like the guide says, if you want to be useful you have to find a way to do so. The best way is to continuously interact with the caregivers and the children. Additionally, if you aren't extremely outgoing it can be hard to form relationships with many of the kids during the first week or so, for the full experience I would recommend 3+ weeks.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
To expand their world view.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Seemed like a well organized program in the area I wanted to volunteer."

Michele – 2015

“For my very first overseas volunteering experience "Liberty Children's Home" was just perfect. No language barrier, living "on site", situated in a relatively safe location, meant I always felt safe and secure at all times.

Agatha and her team made me feel very welcome and my efforts were always appreciated. Liberty is a very special and loving place. My 4 week placement passed very quickly.

What was a typical day at the project?
06:30 Help with preparing breakfast, then wash dishes, sweep and mop the floors. Go to the laundry and help to hang out the copious amounts of never ending washing. Back to the kitchen to help prepare the lunch, sometimes go and help to drop off the lunches at school or sometimes do some one on one schooling with the children who have to stay home. Take some time out to clean my room, do my own laundry, fetch water or go to the shops. Sometimes go along to collect the children who are schooled in the city. Help to prepare supper. Usually end the working day at 18:30.

What did you find most rewarding?
I personally found reward and satisfaction in everything I was involved in. You get out what you put in.

What did you find most challenging?
The mosquitos!!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Be open minded, willing to work hard, be pro-active and remember you "get out what you put in".

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
To help make life a little easier for others and to gain personal insight and a broader perspective of the way life is lived.

Why did you choose PoD and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! Because it is a non-profit making charity. Thank you to Erin and everyone at Pod for organising the placement for me, it was a brilliant experience.

Bonnie – 2015

“It was a privilege to volunteer at Liberty Children's Home. Liberty offers a safe, healthy environment for children that provides them with the opportunity to grow both physically and emotionally. The children are well cared for and are really happy. There is a real sense of family and as in any family, the children are learning the skills that they will need when they become independent. The children were all very respectful, polite and receptive to the volunteers.

What an amazing opportunity to share both skills and love with those who have had a difficult start in life. Happiness is....volunteering at Liberty Children's Home.

What was a typical day at the project?
A typical day at Liberty would start at 7 a.m. with providing assistance in the kitchen to serve breakfast to the children. After breakfast, I would walk with the children to their bus stop and then return to the dining hall to do the post-breakfast clean up, i.e. washing dishes, cleaning tables, sweeping and scrubbing the floors. At midmorning I would assist with packing and delivering the hot lunches to the schools. I would also work one-on-one with a young boy who was unable to attend school and help him with homework and additional skills training (phonics/reading).

After lunch, I would assist with clean up and then assist where needed. (Washing the kitchen walls was necessary at this time as they were preparing for renovations to the area.) After school I would help the children with their homework and if time permitted, play with them before preparation for supper. Supper routine was the same as other meals. I also assisted with laundry and shampooed the dogs. Unless there was something specific to do, my day usually ended about 6:30 p.m.

What did you find most rewarding?
I found the interactions with the children most rewarding but I also found it fulfilling to be able to assist with the 'hands-on' tasks, i.e. helping with the cleaning. Getting to know the staff was a real privilege as well.

What did you find most challenging?
I can't really say that I found any part of the placement challenging. I liked Agatha's approach – not micromanaging but letting us seek out where we could best fit in.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
My advice would be for them to be prepared to jump in right away and start helping. Don't wait for someone to tell you what to do. There is plenty of work to be done and the folks are really appreciative of any help they get. Get to know the kids and the staff, laugh, have fun and work as hard as you can in the time that you are there.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Volunteering abroad forces us to have a reality check. What are the most important things in life?

Why did you choose PoD and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! I found Pod on line and I liked the history of the organization and also the fact that it was based in England. I have great respect for the British and their morals and work ethic. I wasn't disappointed. I hope to be able to return to Liberty.”

Laura – 2015

“I had such an amazing time at Liberty Children's Home. I would absolutely do it again in a heartbeat. The children who live in the home are all so lovely and really appreciate the time and effort that you put in to helping them. The staff are all really supportive too and really like having additional help in such a tough and tiring environment.

Although you are ultimately there to volunteer, you are able to take days off to go and explore and you can do as much or as little as you like during the days.

It is great going to bed at night knowing that you have made a difference to so many children's lives. It’s the most rewarding thing I have ever done!

What was a typical day at the project?
Up at 7 to help with breakfast, ensuring all the children have food and drinks on the tables. Around 7.45 we would walk the children to the bus stop. The mornings would then consist of helping with the washing, entertaining the children who were not at school and gardening until it was time to start helping with the hot school lunches in the kitchen. Around 11.30 we would do the lunch runs to the 3 local schools and be back for around 12.30ish. We would have lunch and then take a little break.

Again the afternoons were filled with walks to the shops, general chores, cleaning, painting and entertaining any children not at school. Once the children return from school around 3.20 it is helping with homework until dinner which is around 5.30. After 6, the evenings are yours, but you will be so tired you will want to go to bed early!!

What did you find most rewarding?
Teaching one of the girls that was not at school her ABC and just generally how happy you made the general when you just gave them some attention and played with them.

What did you find most challenging?
The heat and sometimes the time did drag when the children were at school!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Take plenty of bug spray, take practical shoes and lots of pairs of shorts. The children love to paint, draw and doing crafts, if you can take any of this stuff with you, then it would be very much appreciated ! Don't be scared as it is absolutely amazing!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
The reward of doing it far outweighs the cost and these places need the help and support.

Why did you choose PoD and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! I liked the website and information they provided up front, there were no surprises.”

Sirkka – 2015

“Spending a couple of weeks at Liberty Children's Home is an unforgettable experience. It's one of the happiest places you'll ever visit. Despite all they've been through, the kids have the biggest smiles on their faces and volunteers are surrounded by laughter day and night!

The children welcome volunteers with open arms and they are keen to get to know you and find out about your home country - get ready for the questions! The children will make this place your home from home - they are adorable and always bursting with energy!

Life at Liberty is definitely what you make it. You can do as much or as little as you like as volunteers are very much left to their own devices. It's a great place to be and the laid-back attitude to volunteers means you can have a go at just about anything. If you put an idea/activity to staff, they'll more than likely go with it. Although 'Belize time' takes a little getting used to as nothing happens in a hurry. If you want something done, you just need to show the initiative to get the ball rolling. Staff rarely ask for help or tend to suggest things that don't happen so packing your organisation skills is key!

What was a typical day at the project?
It's hard not to wake up when the children wake up - as they like to run around outside your window from 6am to 7am before breakfast! Head to the dining room to help with breakfast, serving and tidying up, as with all meal times. Other than that, there was no such thing as a typical day! A volunteer's role at Liberty is very varied, no two days are the same. What you do depends on what you're interested in. Most of my time was spent with the children (as it was the school holidays) - reading, arts and crafts, playing cards and board games, watching movies, and lots of basketball! The creche was also grateful of the extra pair of hands to help with the younger children.

Other jobs that regularly needed doing included laundry, gardening and general chores, including painting and DIY. There was no set knock-off time but the evenings are generally your own so I would either relax with the children or around the children's home (with the wifi!) or do something with the other volunteers, there are restaurants and bars within walking distance. The staff are very mindful of the volunteers being volunteers so they encourage you to make the most of your free-time and encourage you to go away together at the weekend.

What did you find most rewarding?
The whole experience was very rewarding, it definitely puts things into perspective. Just spending time with the children was rewarding in itself, not to mention all the memories you create together. You'll return home with endless stories!

Another rewarding aspect, is feeling like part of the family, the children's home is run as one big family unit and the volunteers are included in that. There's a real friendly and welcoming atmosphere. It's also rewarding to see how volunteers are welcomed into the larger community, you get to know locals outside the children's home and it's not unusual for them to invite you into their homes. The neighbours are very chatty and go out of their way to look out for 'the Liberty volunteers.'

What did you find most challenging?
The sand flies. Everyone warns you but they still get to you! Early mornings and evenings are particularly bad. They'll eat through pretty much any bug repellent so take long sleeves/ long trousers and be prepared to be eaten! They aren't as bad elsewhere in Belize, but they are a huge problem at the children's home!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Do it! Don't over-think things, just go with an open mind - and you'll love it! Be prepared for a completely different way of life where you'll get to do a bit of everything. You won't regret it!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Yes, definitely. As well as the many benefits of volunteering, you get to learn about another culture at the same time. You get plenty of free-time to get to really immerse yourself in local life, you'll get to know the culture and explore nearby destinations. But be warned, you'll want to go back! Belize is beautiful and there's so many places to explore!

Why did you choose PoD and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! I'd never heard of Pod but thanks to Google, I was put in touch! I didn't have much time to play with as I was keen to do a couple of weeks volunteering in a children's home over Christmas/New Year. It was late November and a spur of the moment decision - but I was determined! I phoned quite a few charities and was faced with comments like 'you've got to be joking' and 'no chance.' Okay, there wasn't much time, only a few weeks, but they didn't even want to try to help me.

I got completely the opposite reaction from Pod. They were keen to help, very efficient and the lack of time didn't even phase them! It turns out there was plenty of time to complete my paperwork, interview, references etc and all worked out well. I was very impressed with how quickly things were organised, my trip was transformed from an idea to a reality in a number of weeks. Great work!

You were very friendly and approachable and it was great that you’d been to Liberty so could answer all my many questions – I know there were lots! Talking to someone who had ‘been there and done it’ reality helped.

Thanks so much for the experience. It was just what I needed at just the right time! I got out of it everything I wanted - and a whole lot more!”

Emma – 2014

“I had a brilliant time at the Children's Home in Belize. The children are delightful, cheeky and full of fun. They are full of love and desperate to receive love. They also work together as a large family, looking out for each other.

I really enjoyed caring for all ages. The teenage girls liked me helping out with their homework and discussing England, the Queen, brick houses and snow!

What was a typical day at the project?
Up at 6.30am for a 7am start. Help with breakfast, serve, tidy. See the older children off to school, walking or bus. Help out in creche with my own creative inspirations, playdough and arts and crafts. Help with Lunch, care for babies. Homework help from 3-5. Help with tea serving then finish for the day.

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing how happy and content the children are.

What did you find most challenging?
The mosquito bites, I am allergic and the high humidity.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Be prepared to work long days in extreme humidity and a huge mosquito problem!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Opens eyes up to the Third World, makes you appreciate and realise how lucky you are.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Yes, Great reputable agency. Staff very friendly and thorough.”

Hish – 2014

“How’s life at Liberty?
I have really enjoyed my time here and the children and staff have been very loving and very rewarding. I have to say I have fully settled into the routine and I am really appreciating the culture as well. I actually am not looking forward to leaving too much now....

I stayed at this project for 4 weeks in August/September in Liberty Children's home. It was certainly different to anything I have ever experienced before but it turned out to be one of the most unforgettable trips of my life.

Getting to know another culture was brilliant, and the Belize culture is truly unique. Getting to bond with the children, the staff and other volunteers on camp was also what really made my trip here. Everyone was truly welcoming and friendly so it made staying here very enjoyable. There are of course many differences from Belize to home, but you really end up with a broader perspective of the world which for me was truly invaluable. Even though I found the first week the trickiest, after that first week everything ran like clockwork and by the end of it I was almost picking up a few Belizean mannerisms! Of course that’s because a lot of volunteers come and go through Liberty so the children are used to seeing lots of different faces. Once they become familiarised with you, then friendships really start to form. Also another thing to bear in mind is that the Caribbean mentality is that of a laid back one. This is fantastic as everyone is really relaxed, but take this in mind when working as there may be little structure with respect to activity timings or project work. But there is certainly a routine which you can do once you have settled in. They all really appreciate you being there which is the best thing.

All in all I had a brilliant time and would recommend anyone to undertake this project.

What was a typical day at the project?
This varied with the summer holidays and school period. The summer holidays was mostly spent for me doing odd chores as the children all helped out throughout the camp. Summertime was mainly to help out with interacting with the kids and playing games here or there. Watching TV among many other things.
When the children were at school, I had the following routine.
Woke up at 7am
Breakfast at 7.30 am
Walk the kids to the bus stop at 8am
Waited with them and then return to Camp.
Do the kitchen dishes and sweep/mop the kitchen until about 10.30am
Then I had about an hour to relax in the volunteer quarters (Wifi available)
Help take the lunches to the respective schools. 11.30 pm
Have my lunch and relax.
Help around here or there in the pre-school or day care on camp.
Relax until the children come home. You could meet up with the children at the bus stop to pick them up (3pm)
Help out the kids with homework and playing games (3.15 pm until 5.30-6pm)
Have Dinner and then the kids usually go to sleep after. Giving you all the free time you want!
Of course as it is so relaxed here you can do as little or as much as you want.

What did you find most rewarding?
Meeting the children, volunteers and staff in Liberty. That's certainly what it’s all about. There was a lot of love at Liberty. And I became very attached to the place.

What did you find most challenging?
The humidity and various bugs here or there (Make sure you bring bug spray!!!)

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Just go in with an open mind and realise that even though it may not seem like you’re making the biggest difference, you really are. And it will take time to adjust, but it will be worth it. You will see how you will grow throughout your time here.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
The world is a massive place, this is a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture whilst helping out other people and improving your extra-curricular skills. A truly win-win situation.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! I chose POD as the staff were co-operative and they had excellent choices and really put you and their projects first. I really was pleased with how everything went.”

Rachelle – 2014

“My time away was very nice. The month I was there came and went so quickly and I felt like I needed more time! The children and very loving, crazy, funny, and sometimes just want someone to talk to, read with, or play with. Go in with an open mind, WILLINGNESS TO WORK, and lots of energy :)

What was a typical day at the project?
This this the schedule I followed for most of the days I was there: 6:30a Wake-up 6:45a Help with breakfast prep 7:30a breakfast served, afterwards walk kids to school/bus stop AND wash dishes, sweep or mop 9:00a Circle time in the preschool for one hour *A little bit of down time or laundry/ raking until lunch prep 11:00a Lunch prep *Raking, laundry, dishes etc until kids come home from school 3-4:00p Kids start to arrive from school: Homework time/play time until dinner 5:30p Dinner and clean up: assist/ oversee in cleanup by the older children *Kids usually head right into their dorms after dinner so your evenings will be free for much needed sleep. :)

What did you find most rewarding?
Being able to share a part of myself and make a difference (however big or small) with the children and staff.

What did you find most challenging?
Nothing in regards to the Home actually. Because it is very laid back, it is easy to get into a routine of not really doing much at all. This leaves all of the work for willing volunteers and staff. Don't be lazy! There is always something that can be done.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Be willing to work and help. Be willing to observe and acknowledge the no alcohol on campus rule. A lot of volunteers come through there so gauge when to ask questions about how you can help. When the cook is rushing to get breakfast out on time is probably not the best time to question her. Be observant and ask the kids too, they know a whole lot about the routines and details that could assist you in helping.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Guys, it's a great feeling. It might sound a little corny, but it's so true.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! Their process was very thorough, the staff was helpful, and communicative. Upon arrival, I was told how much money goes to the project. It is well above another organization. I'm glad to know where my money went and how it is being used.”

Nikkie – 2014

“How’s life at Liberty?
This has far surpassed anything I could have ever believed it to be. I am in love with Liberty. ALL of it! When I come home, I'd like to set up another trip. And wanted to say, working with you guys, has begun a transformation in my life. This next week will only further it. There is no amount of words or emotion to show how thankful I am. Just please know, as I sit on my bed, this is everything I've ever looked forward to. It's the one thing that sparked to jump start into something greater. Almost like a mother having a child? Maybe. I'm not done here. I'll never be done here. Thank you for introducing life and most of all love. The kind people search their whole lives for. It's here at Liberty. In thestreets of Ladyville. It's just here.

This experience was of course "life changing." I saw children who made each other family. And they were so inviting for you to become part of it. They gave you every bit of their love. Even if they were a little standoff-ish. When each smiled, it was as though you walked past and then stopped to return and marvel at the most beautiful picture in a museum. Full of life. Full of laugher. Compassion. Vibrancy. Many times I cried just watching them play or dance and smile. And many times I excused myself to do so. Those children have so much to offer the world.

Without this experience, I would have never been able to understand what we are doing compared to what they are doing- trying to find happiness, and just being happy. I went there to make a difference. But I think they changed me more than anything. The beautiful village as well. I could never thank Pod enough for giving me the opportunity to feel complete presence, love, and unity. And to watch it. The caregivers, I will take many of their skills and apply to my parenting. They are a gift.

What was a typical day at the project?
Wake up, cook breakfast eat with the kids. Play and chores. Run to the store maybe. Cook lunch. Eat. Play. Cook dinner. Make sure chores are done and everyone goes in for the night.

What did you find most rewarding?
The laughter. The laughter from the gut.

What did you find most challenging?
The humidity

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Remember you are going to HELP. Ask what you can do. Try to help in the kitchen as much as possible!!! Ms. V deserves it!!!!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It's the most beautiful thing. And cannot be described. Just felt.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Yes!  There is not one thing that could be marked as less than perfect with Pod. They were amazing. They had thorough information and were in contact the hole process! It was very comfortable. I'll always use Pod”

Alice – 2014

“Volunteering at Liberty Children’s home in Belize was an amazing experience and definitely an eye opener-an experience that I will never forget. The lifestyle is a lot slower than what I am used to and there is very little structure to the days but it is really relaxed, something which I became more used to.

It was great to spend time with such great children, I was a little worried that they maybe wouldn’t be that happy, but they were probably the happiest kids I’ve met and so inspiring as well. I really got so attached to the children in such a short amount of time and when it was time to leave, I just didn’t want to leave them. But I knew I had made a difference in their lives and that they were happy and so that helped. I learnt how appreciative the staff are for even the smallest of things that you do and that really touched me.

It was an unforgettable experience that I will treasure dearly and so amazing that it is hard to describe in words.

What was a typical day at the project?
Most mornings I would be up at 7am, to be down at breakfast for 7:30am and helping out with breakfast. Then after breakfast, some of the kids do chores so you can help them out a bit or play with the kids or help with the cooking or laundry or do some gardening. Then lunch is normally between 11:30 and 12:45 depending on the type of day. Then after lunch you can help out doing the same sort of things as the morning. Then dinner is normally at about 5pm, and then after you can go help out the kids with chores or read stories or hang out with the kids until they go to bed. When they are at school you can help them out with homework in the evenings or do some other activity with them.

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing the children enjoy themselves when they have just the little things in life and seeing them so happy whenever they got to sing and dance which they love to do. Also knowing that you have made an impact in their lives by talking to them and laughing and smiling with them. I also found it rewarding when the children would give you hugs and when their little faces would light up if they saw you.

What did you find most challenging?
There is little structure to the days and so sometimes it’s hard to find ways in which you can really contribute. But once I found my own routine for things it became a lot easier. I sometimes saw that they could benefit from a lot of things but it was hard to have the means to do those things. It was hard to leave the kids when you’ve been with them for a while and got to know them.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
It’s a bit of a culture shock when you first get there but get stuck in straight away and this will help with that. Be open-minded and offer your help in lots of different places.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It's a life-changing experience and if you want to help others and change lives then it’s a great thing to do. It opens your eyes to a whole other world and makes you appreciate the things that you do have.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! The initial contact that I got from Pod was really friendly and they were really supportive of me and what I wanted to do. They have actually visited the placements and so are able to tell you first hand what it will be like. Great organisation.”

Marie – 2014

“My time at Liberty Children's home was a very worthwhile experience. I feel that I was one of many volunteers who gave the children attention and made them feel that people truly care about them.

Pod did a great job of setting up the placement, communicating, and giving us an idea of what to expect. It was difficult to leave the children. I'll always remember their faces and their smiles, and hope that in some small way I made a difference for these children.

What was a typical day at the project?
Had breakfast with the children and walked them to the bus stop for school. Worked in the preschool most of the morning. Had lunch and then helped in the kitchen or laundry room in the afternoon, or wherever was needed. Greeted the children as they came home from school and helped with homework. Had dinner with the children and then played with them for a while before they went to their dorms for the night.

What did you find most rewarding?
Working in the preschool, and helping the children at the home with their homework.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Expect culture shock both going and coming back.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Living with the locals, in a third world country really immerses you in their culture. I came back with a renewed appreciation for the country I live in.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! Pod was a sponsor for the Children's Home in Belize.”

Elisabetta – 2013

“How’s life at Liberty?
Just wake up now to go to cook breakfast! Things are good accommodation excellent and very happy! People very kind and I am happy!

The place where I was it good, the accommodation was excellent and there was really lots to do. There is really a lot of work to be done. You can be useful in many ways and you will always get a smile from the children. I think that whatever you do is making a better living for the kids or even that you choose to stay next to the kids it would always be a great help. You can choose the areas where to help even following your passion more than a precise schedule.

What was a typical day at the project?
I really choose not to spare myself and I donated lots of my time. I would wake up at 6,00 and to join the kitchen to help for breakfast. Once finished I would go to help with the laundry. I would wash and fold and then help to prepare lunch. Finish with the laundry by 15,00 and go directly in the kitchen to help with dinner. I would finish at about 17,00. Myself and another volunteer would than spend the evening either in a little walk or sitting on the small veranda that we had in the place.

What did you find most rewarding?
Helping all the workers and the kids. Making their life easier during the routine of a normal day.

What did you find most challenging?
It is the day that you leave. The day that you go back to your normal life and yow will leave the kids behind.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Go just because you want to do it. Not because you are following somebody’s example or because you think it is time for you to do something.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
If you really want to get in touch with real world, real people. If really want to know reality.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! Pod service is impeccable. I thought everyone I deal from the office in the UK were fantastic. My placement was good. An English organization for me is a guarantee. I would do it again.”

Essi – 2013

“Flying to Belize and getting to know the life at Liberty children's home was definitely a change of pace for me. The Caribbean lifestyle is slower and more relaxed than what I'm used to, and there is also very little structure. At Liberty I tried a little bit of everything: spending time with the children, helping in the kitchen, feeding the animals, doing maintenance and helping around in preschool. After few days I found my place at Liberty and found where I could be helpful.

After two weeks I didn't want to leave, it's incredible how attached you get to those children and people around you in such a short time! The place itself is very beautiful and relaxing, and Belizean people are the nicest people I've ever met. I would recommend this project to anybody who's interested of doing it.

What was a typical day at the project?
Usually I woke up around 7 am to be ready for breakfast at 7.30 am. After breakfast I usually helped with the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen. After breakfast I would go to preschool to participate to circle time that starts at 9 am, and then sometimes I worked as an assistant for the preschool teacher. Lunch is at 11.30 am, and after that I helped where they needed me. The children come back from school around 3 pm and I used to play games and spend time with them until dinner time. Dinner is around 5-5.30 pm and after that I was free to do what I want. Often I walked to nearby supermarket with other volunteers, went to a restaurant or just hang out with other volunteers.

What did you find most rewarding?
In my opinion, the best part of volunteering was meeting all these wonderful people at Liberty, the staff, other volunteers and the children! Those children were probably the happiest children I've ever met, and their enthusiasm was contagious!

What did you find most challenging?
The humidity and heath took a while to get used to. And also, everybody should bring lots of bug spray and allergy medicine- there's sand flies and red ants everywhere!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
It takes a few days to get used to the slower lifestyle they have, and you should come with an open mind and just enjoy and take it all in!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
If you're interested, you should do it! I found my time at Liberty was "life-changing". I felt like I grew as a person a lot. I see the world differently now and I appreciate all the little things in life more than I did before.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! Their web site was very informative, and the process was very hassle-free and everything went according to the plan. Thank you for your helpfulness and wonderful service with the whole volunteering project! I can't believe how organized you were and how safe and confident you made me feel since the beginning of applying to the project. In a few years, I would love to volunteer again in some other Pod volunteering project!”

Alyssa - 2013

"I cannot even put into words my experience at Liberty Children's Home. Belize is a beautiful country with so much to explore. I fell in love with everything and everyone on this project. The staff are super accommodating and willing to help you feel comfortable in any way possible. The children are amazing. It is so great to be able to spend time with the kids. I stayed for three months at the children's home, so I was able to really get to know all the personalities and characteristics of the kids. It was so rewarding to bond with them whether watching movies, playing outside, talking or helping with homework. I will treasure my time in Belize for the rest of my life, and I cannot wait to be able to go back to Liberty.

A typical day varies depending upon where you work and how you want to spend your day. My routine was typically to wake up around 7 and eat breakfast at 7:30 with the kids. Then I would help out in the gardens. Some of the things I did gardening was weeding, mowing, planting, among other things. Then I would help deliver lunch to the kids at school. After that I would eat lunch, and then take a break. If there were projects to finish up in the afternoon, we would finish that or else I would just take a long break. The kids typically get home from school around 3:30, and then I would help with homework until dinner. After dinner the kids go to bed, so its free time for volunteers-I would use this time to check email, watch movies, etc. The weekends are very relaxed and are just spent spending time with the kids and staff.

What did you find most rewarding?
The most rewarding part for me was when the kids' faces would light up upon seeing me. Additionally, the many hugs that the kids would give me. It was great to get to know the kids. Also, I learned how to do a lot of new things that I never would have learned had I not been at Liberty. I have been greatly impacted by time at Liberty and it has changed me into a better person.

What did you find most challenging?
The bugs. I am not kidding. The bugs seem to prey on volunteers. But, I found that if you spray down with mosquito spray a lot it helps. Also, like any new experience, it was hard to find a routine. But, being proactive and finding work that I liked to do seemed to help and I found a routine that I was able to tailor to my abilities.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Be proactive. Jump right in to the various places to work and with the kids. Be open minded. Also, just remember that the little things can make a huge difference. Finally, don't be stubborn, use the bug spray! And use it often.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
I think it is a great way to learn more about yourself while doing good for others. It allows you to be able to see things in a different perspective and allows you to learn more about another culture in a way that you would not experience as a tourist.

Why did you choose Pod?
I chose Pod because they seemed really organized and friendly. I highly recommend this program to everyone. They are very organized, and go out of their way to be helpful and accommodating."

Gerry – 2013

“Liberty is wonderful! I fell in love with everyone that I met on this project.

What was a typical day at the project?
Breakfast is at 7:30 am and then the kids go to school at 8:00 at which time you can help out any of the staff that needs help that day. Circle time at the preschool is at 9:00 am and that was my favorite part of the day. If you go during the school year, you should definitely participate in it. The kids come home from school around 3:15 pm and do their homework at which time you can help them and then play with them until dinner at around 5:00 pm. After dinner, the kids play a little more but for the most part they get ready for bed at which time you are free to do what you please.

What did you find most rewarding?
Circle time at the preschool and playing with the kids. I also loved spending time with the staff. Everyone is so wonderful.

What did you find most challenging?
I didn't want to leave! It was so hard saying goodbye to all of the staff and especially the children.

What advice would you give to others considering doing this project?
Take bug spray. The mosquitos are no joke!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Living with these kids really puts everything into perspective and it will change your life forever.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! I loved how organized Pod was. They made me feel so comfortable.”

Tom – 2013

“The children's home in Belize is a fantastic place to spend time in. It really made me realise how the smallest of jobs together make the biggest of difference. I went expecting to make the biggest difference by providing amazing over the top activities, however I learnt that it is their home and they decide what they want to do, and it made me really respect their home that has been created for them and that it was my job to blend into the surroundings and help with the smallest of tasks, as they go a long way.

The staff at the home are amazing people, I've made a lot of friends there, both through other volunteers and the staff that work there and will be keeping in touch with them. They really know what the children need and really appreciate the help you give, even with the smallest of tasks. They make you feel very welcome and part of the team. I really hope I have the opportunity to go back to the home and visit everyone again!

How’s life at Liberty?
Just having a little break!! I love it here! Kids are amazing! Everything is going well and not getting bitten too much which is a bonus!

What was a typical day at the project?
There was no real schedule of duties or work; you made of it what you wanted. You could do as little or as much as you felt you needed to. Either way the staff appreciated you being there. I usually helped out the gardener in the mornings, looking after the grounds, fixing plumbing works and general maintenance. Then after lunch I would do whatever the children wanted to do. We would regularly have volleyball or basketball matches in the evenings after supper. Then the evening was your own to do what you wanted but usually all the volunteers would get together with staff members and just chill out and talk about life, it had a very homely feel to it. And finally and early night reading for an early morning helping to cook the breakfast.

What did you find most rewarding?
The children were amazing and inspiring. After hearing some of their stories of how they came to be at the home, you just wouldn't believe some of the stories because they are so happy and care free. For me knowing that I can come away and even if one child remembers me or has a happy memory of me, knowing I've had an impact in some shape or form on that child makes the experience.

What did you find most challenging?
The daily routines, it took me a while to get used to the routines and find myself jobs. There was no real rota or structure, and you had to be very proactive to find something to help with. However once you developed your own schedule things became easier. Oh... and the biting bugs got a little annoying at times!

What advice would you give to others considering doing this project?
Be proactive! The jobs are there but you have to look for them, remember you are there for a short period whereas the staff work all the time, they have their procedures and schedules in place. Spend a few days observing, see how things work and then you'll find a place where your help can be used the most. If you go with the thought that you're going to drastically change things, then this isn't for you, it's the small jobs that keep the place running, and although the small jobs often go unnoticed, they make the biggest difference.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
The culture, the way of life, and realising how similar people are all around the world. You get a real sense of a global community.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! When researching they had every bit of information, answers to all my questions and seemed very reliable and trustworthy, which was proven to be true. Everything that Pod did was very reassuring and made me feel very comfortable travelling such distance. The whole process from application to the end evaluation was very professional and hassle free.”

Zoe – 2013

“I had a fantastic time in Belize and will certainly never forget my time there. The children were inspiring and I met some lovely people! I'm so glad I chose the project.

This was my first time volunteering and I wasn't sure what to expect. I was looking forward to going but definitely apprehensive. As soon as I arrived I felt more at ease after meeting the other volunteers and Miss Agatha. The home itself is lovely and everybody was welcoming.

I was there for 2 weeks and wish I could have stayed for longer! You become so attached to the children in such a short space of time and it's difficult to leave. I loved my time with them and will never forget the conversations I had or the games I played with them. The other volunteers were wonderful and helped make the experience truly enjoyable!

What was a typical day at the project?
Breakfast at 7:30 Help with kitchen/laundry Spend time with children Lunch at 11:30 Help around the home Spend time with children Dinner at 5:30 Relax

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing the children enjoy themselves when activities were planned for them

What did you find most challenging?
Finding ways to contribute as there is little structure

What advice would you give to others considering doing this project?
Be prepared for the change in lifestyle and the bugs!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It's an unforgettable experience and you learn some valuable lessons

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! It looked professional and you could always contact them. The booklet was very detailed and the application process was thorough.”

Jessie – 2013

“My overall experience was great. All the staff that work there were very welcoming, friendly and appreciative of our efforts. The children are lovely, very friendly and appreciate any one to one time that the volunteers can spend with them. I was able to help in the summer school and also do some maths and reading tuition with the children.

How’s life at Liberty?
It is nice to hear from you! I am enjoying my time at Liberty, thank you, and am going to stay an extra week.  The children are lovely.  It takes time to build up relationships with them but I am getting to know them now and that is why I extended my stay.  The staff are also very friendly and there is a nice bunch of volunteers here.

What was a typical day at the project?
Breakfast was at 7.30 so we would get up for then, unless we were doing early morning breakfast duty, in which case we were in the kitchen at 6.15 to help. We may help to do the washing up afterwards and then get ready to start the day's activities at 9. Summer school lasted until the end of July and I was allocated a group to be with every day. I "team taught" with one of the caregivers, did reading, spelling, maths tuition, maths and literacy games and generally spent time helping the children with their studies. The summer school ended at 3pm and then we would play with the children and spend time with them. On the days when there was not summer school I would help with the laundry in the mornings. Supper would be at 5 o'clock and then the children would go to bed at about 6.30, as it got dark.

What did you find most rewarding?
Being able to help the children with basic maths and literacy and developing positive relationships with the caregivers, who were delightful.

What advice would you give to others considering doing this project?
Be proactive-it is what you make it so ask rather than wait to be asked. Understand the Caribbean way of life.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
In order to greater appreciate what we have here in Britain and to help others less fortunate than ourselves. It is immensely rewarding to return to a simpler way of life (abroad) and see how others live.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! A friend had done a volunteer programme in Nepal and recommended them to me. This was my second project with Pod! I definitely want to carry on doing volunteer projects as I have found them so rewarding. Erin and Becky have both been extremely helpful to me.”

Linda and Malcolm – 2013

“My husband and I spent two weeks at the children's home in Belize and we both thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. The experience of living with these warm, friendly people was something we will always remember and certainly would like to return in a couple of years. We were not really prepared for the intensity of the heat even though we had holidayed in the Caribbean previously.

The children were a joy and such characters with whom we created some very special bonds. There was a lot of maintenance work which needed doing and I think that Malcolm being an older male, who was able to carry out more manual work, knowing how and what to do, was an advantage. We also did a lot of gardening, helping in the kitchen (my favourite) and doing the constant pile of laundry. Time off was when you wanted it and with Belize being such a beautiful place with plenty of history and places to explore, you really need to make the most of it and see all you can.

Volunteering was something I have always wanted to do and would recommend anyone, of any age to do it, we made some lovely friends and worked outside our comfort area quite often, which for me made the experience even more special. Thanks to Pod , Agatha and Mr Tilly at the children's home and all the staff and children we got to know.

What was a typical day at the project?
Helping in the kitchen, garden, laundry etc. My husband helped fix the large chicken coop, greenhouse and any other manual which needed doing.

What did you find most rewarding?
We loved being with the children, giving them little treats and helping make the environment better. We made them a special meal of burgers and chips, something our children take for granted, and the enjoyment on their faces made it so worthwhile.

What advice would you give to others considering doing this project?
Do not take too many clothes; we had a whole suitcase which we did not touch. All we wore were shorts and shirts/sun tops. Also to just get stuck in and keep asking what they want you to do, a lot of the staff feel they cannot ask you to do something even though they may want your help.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Because not only are you helping others you are acquiring life skills and experiences you will get nowhere else. A volunteer does not do the work just to help others, but for themselves too, to get a feeling of self-worth and self-satisfaction, to learn and experience the way other people live and how other cultures work, and to be part of this.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! Because they seem a young, happy team who support where needed but also stand back when needed. Also with it being a charity and non-profit making the cost is affordable and the staff do it because it is a passion not to make money, Also the staff experience their work which can only be an asset.”

Candice – 2013

“What I wanted from my trip was the experience of living in a totally different culture and where better than Belize! I've never worked with children before, so this was something I found nerve-racking at the start but it definitely helped me become more comfortable interacting with children.

The kids are happy to chat and play with volunteers but are often just as happy playing among themselves, so volunteers are free to leave the compound or spend time in the volunteer dome whenever they choose. The staff are great and really friendly, so it was a real honour getting to know and spend time with them too.

What was a typical day at the project?
There is always something to help out with around the home, but it is really up to the volunteers what they want to do to help. Chores like maintenance and gardening always need an extra pair of hand and the younger children enjoy having volunteers to play with them and keep them entertained. Personally, I most enjoyed helping with gardening but other volunteers preferred to help out in the kitchen, doing laundry, helping with office work or playing with the kids. Volunteers can switch jobs from one day to the next which was often the case. We would generally start working after breakfast at about 8/8.30 and finish around lunch time (11.30). In the afternoons we either had free time or the opportunity to continue whatever work we were doing prior to lunch for a couple of hours, if any more help was needed.

What did you find most rewarding?
Getting to live in a different country and experience an unfamiliar culture without being treated as a tourist was the best part for me. I love getting to know the staff and kids, as well as getting to travel Belize at the weekends.

What did you find most challenging?
The unrelenting humidity and the sheer amount of mosquitoes are constantly hard to deal with but you'll be surprised how quickly you get used to this.

What advice would you give to others considering doing this project?
Prepare yourself for a culture shock as well as the intense humidity and numerous mosquitoes.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It's hard to put in to words how I feel about this trip. Although it was tough at times, it was the most amazing experience. To be able to experience what feels like a whole different world is just a wonderful feeling and it changes your perspective on things.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! Pod offered a lot of interesting volunteer opportunities and I'm really glad I picked the one I did.”

Tom – 2013

“Overall, they were 4 of the best weeks of my life. I made some great friends in the other volunteers, have some amazing memories of both my time at the home and around Belize, and I'll always value the time I spent with the children at Liberty.

How’s life at the Children's Home?
We're having a great time thanks! The heat is far beyond what we expected, but we're still working and the kids are amazing so it's all worth it at the end of the day.

We went to Ambergis Caye for the weekend which was nice, especially to get away from the heat of the mainland for a bit, and hopefully we'll be going to Caye Caulker in a couple of weeks.

Overall it's been really good so far and we're looking forward to the rest of our stay!

The home is located just outside Belize City (great for accessing the islands by boat) and right by the airport, so once you've landed it's not long until you arrive in Ladyville. Although some of the children are shy at first, many of them will come to you straight away and ask you to play with them, which is great for getting an initial grasp of their names!

Of the volunteers there over my 4 week stay (at times, over 10), I was one of only 2 guys (the other was only present for my first week). This isn't a complete surprise given that it's working with children, but as there was also only one male care-worker, this meant that the boys really valued us being there.

If it's your first project (as it was for me), I'd definitely recommend going for about 4 weeks. It took about 2 weeks to feel properly settled and adjusted to the culture and climate, as well as getting used to the work. After 4 weeks I'd done most of what I wanted to do in Belize and felt like my time at the home had come to a natural conclusion, although that's not to say it wasn't difficult saying goodbye to everyone.

What was a typical day at the project?
Breakfast is at 7:30am and you're expected to be there with the kids every morning (including weekends). Although it's often something warm (e.g. waffles, bacon, warm bread), Saturday is cereal day, which can be a bit of light relief in the heat! After breakfast it's time to start work, with jobs including: gardening, maintenance, cooking, laundry, office work and helping in the nursery. I personally chose to do maintenance most days as the sheer range of things this included meant that no two days were ever the same and you also had the chance to make a long-term impact on the home.

At 11:30am you break for lunch, which is usually the bigger meal of the day. The food was far better than I anticipated, but expect to see a lot of chicken, beans and rice! Amongst other things, you'll also get spaghetti and meatballs and potato salads, and within reason you can always take a decent sized portion. After lunch you can take a break until about 1pm, at which point it's time to return to work. Whilst some jobs (e.g. maintenance) continue after lunch, others (e.g. laundry) don't, so afternoon jobs such as painting signs take place.

The kids will get home around 3, and from then on you can help with their homework or just play with them outside. At 5:30pm it's dinner, which is often a smaller meal such as a meat pasty or bread and cheese. The children (especially the younger ones) go to bed not long after this, so the evening is a great time to go on the internet or go out to eat. Bed time is whenever you choose, but we found that with the early mornings and hard work, we were almost always in our rooms by 9pm!

What did you find most rewarding?
The best and most rewarding part of the project was forming great relationships with everyone. The younger kids will always want a hug and to play around, whereas the older kids are happy just to sit, talk and have a laugh, so you can develop relationships with children of all ages. Given the backgrounds of the children, I was expecting the experience to be a lot more harrowing than it was, but they were some of the most friendly and happy children I've ever met! Aside from this, you'll get to know some of the staff really well, which makes working with them a lot more fun and rewarding!

What did you find most challenging?
Despite going in the rainy season, the heat (or more specifically, the humidity) was far worse than many of us expected. For the first week or so it was a real challenge, particularly on the first night when I remember being completely daunted by the prospect of 4 weeks in it. Make sure you ask for a fan for each person in your room - I can't emphasise how much of a difference it made to sleeping! When you leave the mainland the humidity seems to drop, and there's a breeze too, so it's a good idea to see the islands if not just for that reason! Beyond that, everybody's one constant annoyance was the mosquitoes. Repellent spray helps a, but I did a rough count and worked out that at any given time I had 200+ bites! They have aloe vera plants at the home, and they can help soothe the bites (and sunburn), so make use of them!

What advice would you give to others considering doing this project?
Most importantly, get through the first week. It may be daunting in that time, be it the heat or the culture shock, or even homesickness, but after the first hurdle has been crossed, all worries are lifted and you can enjoy it completely. I travelled and shared a room with a friend, and personally this really helped in the early stages, so if you can do this, do. Other than that, just have a positive attitude towards the work and be prepared for anything - especially heat and insects!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Although I've travelled to a few countries before, I've only ever gone as a tourist. Volunteering at Liberty gave me a chance to fully experience a culture very different to my own, and I learned a lot from this. In addition, the people you meet and the memories you get would be very hard to come by from just volunteering in the UK, so volunteering abroad definitely offers more than just a different country.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! Although I personally didn't choose Pod, the fact that they are non-profit and very well informed about their projects would make them a great candidate if I choose to volunteer abroad again.”

Lexi – 2013

“How’s life at the Children’s Home?
Sorry it's taken a while to reply, have been very busy! Having a great time. Kids are fantastic! Foods good and other volunteers good!

Liberty Children's Home is a fantastic placement run by an inspirational team. The staff and children are extremely welcoming and help you feel settled very quickly. The accommodation was basic but clean, there is internet on the campus and also great food. The town itself is small, but easy to get to know and close to Belize City which is great access for the Islands and other activities.

The first couple of days may be fairly slow as you get to know what to do and the routine. It may feel like at times there is not much work, but after a week or so you really see things that need doing that can be overlooked. For example, the Gate and signs for Liberty Foundation were very run down. The volunteers and I spent several afternoons painting and cleaning them to make them look better. There are also always errands to run for the cook and other staff members, for example, getting vegetables for lunch. You often have to use your initiative as there is not always much instruction. At the weekend, the children may get bored and so they love it when volunteers organise activities with them. There is also always a chance of rain so activities for a rainy day are always good.

It was a great experience getting to know the different people, both staff and children. It was very difficult leaving and I hope one day to return. At times it could be challenging mentally, but if you made the effort it was also very rewarding. It was a privilege to get to know such amazing people and form relationships with all the different people who reside or work at Liberty. I am very lucky to have had such a unique experience and learnt so much along the way.

What was a typical day at the project?
7.00 am - Wake Up and help out for breakfast. Breakfast was normally bread with eggs and bacon, pancakes, waffles, porridge. 8.00 am - Start work. Helping out in the garden, working in the nursery, helping out with maintenance, laundry, cooking, and errands. 11.30 am – Lunch; included chicken and rice, meatballs with pasta, casseroles. 12.00 pm - Break 1.00 pm - Back to work, normally an afternoon project, for example, painting the Liberty signs or planning activities for the children 2.30pm - Help with homework and play with children. 5.00 pm - Dinner, normally much lighter, bread with cheese, soup. 6.00 pm - Children go to bed, so free time. Used this time to check the internet, or go out to eat with the other volunteers.

What did you find most rewarding?
The relationships formed with everyone.

What did you find most challenging?
Humidity and Mosquitos.

What advice would you give to others considering doing this project?
Go with an open mind and a bundle or energy and initiative. Also pack lots of bug spray and allergy relief tablets, long clothes for example light coloured leggings and long sleeved tops. Make use of weekends to explore Belize.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
The opportunities you get and the people you meet give you some amazing memories. You don’t leave without being impacted to some extent.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! Projects are sustainable and concerned about long term growth. Credible and informative.”

Hannah – 2013

“I had an incredible experience at Liberty children's home in Belize. The staff and children were brilliant, the work they do is great. I would definitely recommend this project to anyone who has an interest in working with children from a different background.

What was a typical day at the project? Breakfast with the children is at 7.30 before they go off to school. Whilst they are away volunteers do chores around the home, including gardening, animal care, laundry, cooking or cleaning. When the kids get back we help them with homework or play with the younger ones in the playground before dinner. The evenings are free to do what you want.

What did you find most rewarding? I particularly enjoyed playing with the younger children and helping some of the older one with homework. I also got the chance to see some of them go sailing which was great.

What did you find most challenging? The behaviour of some of the children.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes, I had  a good experience in the past.”

Jane – 2013

“I went to Liberty without any clue or expectation of what I was going to find in the other volunteers, children, staff or location. It would all unfold in due course. I was immediately welcomed into the group who had been there for varying weeks and after struggling with names for a day or two I got the hang of the routine. Early to bed, early to rise, heat and humidity, site clearance with raking and sweeping and many more sideline jobs... the pigs need cleaning and feeding, food collected from town daily, laundry help, taking hot lunches to school each day, sewing when required, painting, scrubbing in the dining room and kitchen, school fairs and sailing.

We were such a fabulous team working well together. Age made no difference it was all about the personalities and common bond of being there to help improve life for the kids. The children are one big family in many ways, all wanting your individual attention at some point in the day. The carers look after the children as they know them best so our time spent with the kids is different and very rewarding. Helping with homework, playing basketball or going on-line, the hugs said it all. I miss everything about Liberty, mostly the people.

What did you find most rewarding? A huge sense of accomplishment every day.

What did you find most challenging? Most challenging was the heat and humidity. Nothing a shower doesn't sort out. Oh, the little red ants are to be avoided!!

What advice would you give to others considering this project? Just do it whatever your age. I am 59 and came away feeling 25! 3 weeks was probably the right amount of time for me.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It gets you out of your own world and immersed into another where priorities may be different. Volunteering gives you a base from which to explore the country you choose to work in.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes! Pod just kept popping up as I was looking at all the websites for volunteering for the over 50's! I just liked how it read and felt instinctively it was the one to choose.”

Barbara – 2012

“How’s life at Liberty? I had an Amazing Experience- it has whetted my appetite to become an adoptive mother. It was amazing- I love seeing how much less we all could be living on in this world, as I return to the Materialistic Society in the USA.

Spending time at Liberty Children's Home was enlightening and inspiring. I found the staff there to go out of their way to be pleasant to me. The dorms were nice other than a few small issues. Mosquito repellent is very important to bring. A mosquito coil would be good as well as cream or spray. The food was okay, sometimes really great. The compound area itself is very beautiful.

What was a typical day at the project? Getting up. Eating with kids/volunteers and then doing clean-up. Walking with the kids to their bus stop. Reading to the kids at the Pre-school or doing some weeding in the garden. Asking the Volunteers what needs to be done. Coloring or doing art projects or watching movies with the kids when they come home from school. Laughing.

What did you find most rewarding? The time with the kids, staff, and other volunteers!!

What did you find most challenging? Sometimes there was lack of structure in the daytime.

What advice would you give to others considering this project? Bring Mosquito spray/cream AND a mosquito coil with you!! Prepare to jump in and find projects or ask to find the projects if you're not sure.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? To open your awareness and appreciation of how other people live on this planet.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes! My friend recommended it and it sounded like a good organization to me.”

Lee & Bob – 2012

“How’s life at Liberty? Have been really busy since we arrived. Children are off school and so are around all day! Lots to take in and time seems to be flying by - we're half way through our time already. Have been involved in fundraising fair last w/e and have Christmas party tomorrow - must practise our routine! Have also been working with children to decorate the place for Christmas - great fun and it's definitely looking festive.

The experience at the children's home was amazing, challenging, inspiring and exhausting at times, but hugely worthwhile and rewarding! The children are generally open and welcoming - more so as time progresses and they learn to trust you. There is wonderful scope for making a positive difference to the children's lives by being willing to listen, talk and encourage them. Do consider this placement if you love children, have enthusiasm, patience and a desire to make a positive difference to their lives. We'd certainly consider returning to Liberty Children's home.

Work role was very much up to us to show initiative and muck in where we felt we could. This suited us but we do have a lot of experience of working with children.

What was a typical day at the project? We were there during the school Christmas holidays, so it wasn't a typical day that many volunteers might experience as the children were around the whole time. Up at 7.00am breakfast with children and then get stuck in with whatever needs doing e.g. helping with washing up, playing with the children, organising activities, preparing for Christmas by organising decorating the home and even the mango tree! Help prepare for other events e.g. fundraising fair, Christmas party/concert, gift wrapping etc. Organising other activities e.g. yoga, art & craft, cookery, taking children sailing, helping other full time staff such as caregivers, cook, etc. Reading a story to some of the children before bed.

What did you find most rewarding? Helping children with some of their deeper emotional issues and hopefully encouraging, inspiring and empowering them. Fun activities and playing/spending time with the children on a daily basis.

What did you find most challenging? Insects, heat(although we were expecting this) Lack of organisation and order at certain times - meals, bedtimes.

What advice would you give to others considering this project? Be open and willing to get stuck in and use your own initiative and common sense. Be supportive and friendly with children and staff. If you have a particular skill/interest, take along all that you need to share it with the children. Older people (50+ )should definitely consider volunteering.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Volunteering abroad opens the mind and helps you put a lot of our everyday worries into perspective. Other folk may do things differently but you get to meet and connect with some wonderful souls.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes! Initial contact and information - website and phone contacts were helpful, detailed and encouraging and gave a positive feeling for the projects. Price seemed fair compared to some other charities.”

Tamara – 2012

“I've wanted to volunteer abroad for as long as I can remember. After finally having the time/opportunity I realized that I had made the best decision in going to the children's home in Belize. My two weeks there were probably the most rewarding two weeks I have ever had. I arrived with no expectations, and with an open mind. I was blown away by how much of an impact the kids, and the home in general, had on me. Thinking it would take time for me to open up to the kids and have them approach me openly, I realized (again) that I was wrong, after having some of the kids tug on my shirt, hold on to my legs as I was walking and hug me a few hours upon my arrival.

Basically, it was a trip I will never forget. I left the children's home hoping I'd left an impression on them with the little time i had, but knowing how big of an impression they made on me. This was my first program with Pod, but definitely not my last. I plan on doing this again, visiting the children in Belize and taking on a new project as well.

What was a typical day at the project? Wake up at 6 am. Help out with breakfast, set the tables, and eat with the kids then walk the kids to school/bus Spend the whole day maintaining the home/compound. Gardening, cooking, cleaning etc (mostly gardening) rest breaks are included, of course. Lunch at 11:30 Wait for the kids to come home from school, help with their homework. Set the table and have dinner with the kids at 5:30. After that we had time to play/spend time with kids before/after their showers. 8:30 is bedtime weekends are the best :) you get two full days with the kids, to do whatever you please within the grounds of the home. Or in the case of specific occasions, and under supervision, you can contact Miss Delfena (manager of the home) and see if you can take a certain number of kids out. High school kids have sailing practice on Saturdays. Some of the kids go to church on Sundays, you can join them.

What did you find most rewarding? Being able to spend time with the kids within their home and get to know each one as an individual was rewarding enough.

What did you find most challenging? Probably trying to figure out what it is exactly that I should be doing to help around the home when the kids were at school. I improvised, a lot. I tried to be as available as possible, and attentive to peoples’ needs.

What advice would you give to others considering this project? Bring a lot of bugs spray, probably a mosquito net for your bed. Personal first aid kit, own plastic water bottle, old sneakers for gardening, very casual clothing, and suited for heavy heat and sun

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It's a chance to expose yourself to a new/different culture. It also provides you with an understanding of how certain matters, such as children's homes, are run/managed/maintained relative to your own country.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes! Pod is the most informative and helpful”

Meagan – 2012

“I had a wonderful time at Liberty this summer. My placement was two weeks long and it went by in the blink of an eye. When I first arrived, I thought that 2 weeks were going to seem like a long time, but once I got comfortable at Liberty it went by way too quickly.

What was a typical day at the project? An average day consisted of getting up for breakfast with the children for 7:30am, playing with the children and helping out with chores around campus until lunch at 11:30am, playing with the children and helping out on campus again until dinner at 5:00pm, assisting with kitchen clean up and then helping the children get ready for bed. While the weekends are generally very relaxed and allow you to spend time playing with and getting to know the children, the weekdays tended to be structured in a 9am-3pm workday. During this workday we assisted with manual labour such as gardening (weeding and hoeing the garden), general clean up around the property, and we moved dirt to create a base for water basins. The intensity of the manual labour came as a surprise to me. I expected to help out around the property, but the heat and demand of the work was more than I expected. After 3pm you are free to relax, shower, and hang out with the kids, as well as all day on the weekend.

What did you find most rewarding? The kids are amazing at Liberty. They all work together to maintain the campus and often helped out with the manual labour without being asked. They love to spend time with you, and are very curious about your life back home. I would suggest putting together some pictures on your Ipod or phone to give the kids an idea of what your life. They are wonderful, hard-working, kind, loving, and accepting children who have created a family with the other children, staff and volunteers at Liberty. If I were to return to Liberty, and one day I hope to, I would extend my stay to at least a month. They are always seeking your attention throughout your stay and just want someone to hang out with. Just relax and be yourself while you are at Liberty and you will find yourself instantly falling in love with the children, staff and the other volunteers. It is a wonderful place and I have left with many new friends that I hope to remain friends with for a very long time.

What advice would you give to others considering this project? Expect to be homesick in the first couple of days until you adjust to the culture shock and differences from home. You will be outside of your comfort zone, but it will only take you a couple days to being to feel comfortable at Liberty. The relationships that you will build with the children, staff and other volunteers will help to make you feel at home in no time. Be aware of the neighbourhood that you are going into. This is not a tropical island. It is in a poor neighbourhood in Belize and you must be careful when you leave campus. However I never felt threatened during my stay and always found the community to be very accepting of us. Also be aware of the level of manual labour expected from you at Liberty. It was hard work in the heat but manageable.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Volunteering at Liberty really allows you to immerse yourself in a new culture. You are thrown right into the lives of the local community which allows you to make relationships with the community that would not be possible otherwise. My time spent at Liberty gave me an in depth and personal look at life in Belize.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes! Pod was very accessible through their website and offered a great deal of information about their projects. They were very open about the reality of the situation you were headed into. Additionally, their prices are reasonable compared to many other organizations.”

Abbie – 2012

“How’s life at Liberty? Yes all is good just on a couple days off in Caye Caulker with Meagan and Amma. We've been having a great time and all is ok. Thank you for checking up on us :)

I met some amazing, caring people when I was there and the children were great too. I've learnt a lot and it was a great experience and have memories which I will keep forever.

The children are great but do remember the orphanage is in a poor area. If looking to fundraise I would recommend taking the money with you and using it where you feel appropriate. Do expect to work whilst you are there as well as spending time with the children. This volunteer project helped build my confidence and learn how to deal with unexpected situations. I had an amazing experience and hope that I have helped the children in some way.

What did you find most rewarding? Getting to know the children, building trust and helping them to develop.

What advice would you give to others considering this project? Research the area and orphanage prior to visiting. Visit Caye Caulker on your days off!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? To gain a greater perspective on life. Make you appreciate what you have. Build independence and competence in travelling alone. Learn how to adapt to different environments and improvise.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes! A friend had previously volunteered through POD and had recommended it.”

Kay – 2012

“Overall I just had the most incredible, challenging but fantastic time where I met some friends for life and I would go back to the wonderful children, staff, children's home and beautiful country in a heartbeat!

When I first arrived at the Children's Home, it was quite overwhelming but everyone was incredibly welcoming. I went during the summer holidays so the expectations on the volunteers were quite different to the role during term time as this was the first year they tried running a summer camp for the kids. This was a huge challenge in itself as with any big project trying to cater for a large number of children between the ages of 2 to 15 but it was excellent to be a part of and helped me face some personal fears - I had to plan and lead some activities for the different age groups which would generally terrify me but this opportunity has given me much more confidence and actually inspired me to take my teaching qualification after years of 'umming and ahhing'. Volunteers generally work 5 days a week with 2 days off (not always at the weekend) where you're free to go and explore this beautiful country. Trips to the Mayan temple sites, the zoo, zip lining through the jungle, cave tubing and a visit (or 2) to Caye Caulker island are a must!

What was a typical day at the project? Wake up around 6.30am and grab shower 1 of the day (generally need 2 a day as it's very hot and sticky out there but you soon become acclimatised to it). Depending on how many volunteers are there at the time there may need to be a shower rota!! Put on sun cream and coat yourself in bug spray! Head to the kitchen and help serve up breakfast to the 28 children from 7-7.30am 8-8.30am - we spent time with small groups working on basic multiplication tables to get the kids ready for getting back to school in September. 9 - 11.30am - a range of activities for the children from arts and crafts, sports and games, dance, drama. 11.30am - lunch time - again helping out in the kitchen where needed (to serve, help cook, make bread, pick rice or anything else the cook needed help with - all good fun and I've come home with some good recipes!) After lunch we did more summer camp activities/ helped with other projects (such as the cooking for dinner, painting the girls dorm one week, and even getting the home prepared for an incoming hurricane - all good fun!) 5.30pm - dinner time with the kids 6-8pm - caregiving duties helping the staff get the children showered and settled ready for bed. 8pm – volunteers’ free time

What did you find most rewarding? So many things but probably most of all was the one to one work I did with one of the older boys who was really struggling to grasp his times tables. We worked together every day using things he was motivated by and by the time I left, he was able to tell me his 2 times table with confidence - a huge triumph for us both!

What did you find most challenging? The most challenging part for me was trying to run quite a structured camp in a place which is so laid back. It took a while for me to adjust to the 'go with the flow' attitude and lifestyle coming from working in a school at home which relies on structure but as soon as I let go I started just enjoying the time with the kids and not worrying when things changed suddenly or plans had to be thrown out the window! I definitely learnt a lot from this placement and hope to use apply these lessons to my life at home. Going from living alone at home to room sharing with 7 other people was also a challenge in itself but I soon adjusted and have made the most amazing friends.

What advice would you give to others considering this project? Don't go out with any expectations and just go with the flow as much as possible. Say YES to every opportunity you get to see as much of this beautiful country as you can. Enjoy every minute you get to spend with the wonderful children and staff at Liberty and get stuck in to help the staff wherever you can - they really do appreciate the help of volunteers. In conclusion - just do it - it's one of the best things I've ever done!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It's a fantastic opportunity to explore a place in a way you just can't as a tourist and meet some amazing people and friends for life along the way. For me, it's planted the travel bug which I think is going to be difficult to shake off!

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes! I loved that it is a non-profit organisation and the staff at Pod have been extremely helpful and supportive. Thanks Erin!”

Kendra and Matt – 2012

“How’s life at Liberty? Things are great here in Belize. We are getting to know the kids and area very well! Several new volunteers arrived today so we're showing them the ropes. Time is going quickly and we are having a blast!

I can honestly say a piece of my heart will always be at Liberty. It doesn't take long to fall in love with these children and the amazing country of Belize. Being there 4 weeks really allowed my husband and I to develop relationships with the kids and staff and to explore all the area has to offer. Being proactive is important in this placement. Finding things that need done, and accomplishing the tasks with a willing heart is vital. The more you put in, the more you are sure to get out.

What was a typical day at the project? Getting up around 6:30, and eating breakfast with the children before walking them to their bus stop for school. Upon return finding the groundskeeper or the caregivers to find out what tasks needed accomplished for the day. Playing with the children after school, helping with homework and dinner end out the day.

What did you find most rewarding? Interacting and building relationships with the kids.

What did you find most challenging? The heat and bugs.

What advice would you give to others considering this project? I would advise going with the attitude knowing that Belize will be different than what you are used to. Be willing to do what is asked of you, including manual labour and caring for the pigs and chickens. It can be hard work, but it's what needs done and will better the children's home greatly.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Volunteering abroad opens your eyes to drastically different cultures, amazing people and lasting memories. I always come home humbled, and thankful for all the blessings I have been given. Volunteering WILL change your life!

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes! Because of their involvement with Liberty Children's Home. My husband and I are were very impressed with your communication and found your organization amazingly helpful in setting up our placement, following us while we were there, and upon our return home.”

Jessica – 2012

“The time that I spent at Liberty Children's Home will always remain with me as a brilliant memory. Saying goodbye was one of the hardest things I have ever done! The children and the staff are truly amazing and I am so glad that I got to meet them and spend time with them.

I felt that during my time there I developed myself as a person and not only that I feel like the children benefited from the experience as much as I did. I formed some strong friendships and would love to return at some point in the future, although ideally I would love it if the children had all been adopted.

They are fantastic kids and you can't help but grow to love them. The staff do a fantastic job and during the time I spent with them I gained a lot of respect for the work they do. During the time I was there the volunteers were asked to help run a summer camp for the local kids as well as the children at Liberty, this was a particularly difficult project but it was amazing to watch the children interact with each other and to get to meet and bond with some of the local children as well.

I will never forget my time at Liberty or the friends that I made. Thank you to Pod and to the team at Liberty for an amazing experience.

What was a typical day at the project? A typical day at the project consists of breakfast at 7.30am and then if the children were at school it was up to us to help with the upkeep of the home, whether it was working in the gardens or helping in the kitchen. The staff are very helpful but it is really up to you to get on and do what needs to be done and use your own initiative. When the kids are at the home it’s great to be able to spend time with them doing various activities!

What did you find most rewarding? I found the time that I got to spend with the kids most rewarding and feeling like I was making a difference to their lives. I formed some strong bonds and I will miss them all.

What did you find most challenging? I found running the summer camp particularly challenging! It was difficult to earn the respect of the children who did not live at Liberty and the children would all react to one another so it was difficult to maintain control! However, as they settled into the routine it became easier and a lot of fun

What advice would you give to others considering this project? This is an amazing project to take part in, the living conditions are not great and the food is very basic! It is a good idea to take you vacation days as it gives you a well deserved break, however it is advisable to remember that you are there to support the kids and the orphanage and often the weekends are the best time to get time with the kids so sometimes it is better to take days in the week!

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes! It was recommended to me by a friend.”

Louise – 2012

“Belize wasn't a country I had heard much about before booking my project with Pod - which was a key factor in my decision process when searching for a volunteer project. I was apprehensive about meeting the children - I wanted them to be able to relate to me. After my three weeks at the Children's Home, I had developed close relationships with every single child. They were all so happy and so much fun to be around. I loved getting to know the staff aswell, they all have really great stories to tell! Having other volunteers there was a key benefit, we all got on so well and it provided me with a support network if I was ever feeling homesick - which rarely happened as I was always so busy!

I would recommend this project to anyone who is willing to put the work in because it is hard work, but the rewards of seeing the children happy far outweigh any hardships I experienced. Belize is an absolutely fascinating country; it is so small yet so diverse. Taking a few days off allowed me to see a bit more of the country - I would also recommend other volunteers to visit the Cayes (islands), as they were beautiful. I hope to visit Liberty Children’s Home in the near future as saying goodbye to all the children, staff and volunteers was one of the saddest things I have ever had to do. All in all, I would describe the whole experience as the best three weeks of my life!

What was a typical day at the project? wake up at 6.30, breakfast, manual labour when the kids were at school (gardening, cleaning, general maintenance) or running summer camp classes when they weren't at school. Lunch is around 11.30-12 and dinner is around 5.30. The evenings would be spent playing with the children, and helping get them ready for bed.

What did you find most rewarding? Knowing that the children could tell me things and that they related to me, especially the older children because being only 19, I was closer to their age than some of the other volunteers. Getting close to the children made me feel like I was making a difference to their lives.

What did you find most challenging? Leaving! Saying goodbye is definitely my least favourite thing to do so I found it pretty hard. The mosquitoes, heat and hard work didn't affect me in the same way as other volunteers because I was so happy to be doing the project.

What advice would you give to others considering this project? Take more money extra money - day trips and meals in the evenings (if you choose to eat out) can be expensive! Find other methods to repel mosquitoes - deet simply does not work. Have a completely open mind - plans won't go as you expect them to but that is part of the experience.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Knowing you have been to a beautiful country and actually made an impact in improving people's way of life is fulfilling on another level. I am so happy to say that I have encouraged children who have not had the best start in life to have ambition and to want to learn. When I took my vacation days, it made me feel I had earned them because I had worked so hard. I feel that it is ignorant to go to another country and not experience the culture and get to know the people.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes, it was very reasonably priced - I am a student! Thank you for all your help and support throughout the process of my project at Liberty. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience there - it was one I will never forget and I am glad to say I have developed skills that I will be able to use now and in the future. I hope to return to liberty one day, and will definitely think about booking another project with Pod.”

Josie – 2012

“Working at Liberty Children's Home has been one of the best moments in my life. I have so many memories that I will be able to keep forever. The children and staff were amazing and I miss them dearly already- I really think I will be going back at some point in the future.

Being able to meet and work with other volunteers from different countries was great and whilst I was there I made some friends for life. The hardest moment for me was leaving the home, saying goodbye to such amazing children, staff and volunteers, we all became so close and now I feel like I have family over in Belize.

The best moments were knowing that you made a difference to the children's lives, by either doing manual work on the campus or by listening/helping with homework or reading. It was so rewarding and I would definitely recommend this project and going with Pod!

What was a typical day at the project? We would wake up around 6:30am and then go down to the kitchen to help the cook with breakfast for the children. During school time the children would usually leave about 7:50am for the school bus. We managed to come up with the idea of a Volunteer Coordinator, someone you could go to and see what jobs were needed to be done. We also would have weekly meetings with Delfena (Director of the Children's Home) so we could talk about any issues/what else needed to be done around the home.

Typical work projects volunteers did whilst I was there: Clean out pig pens, rake garden, digging trenches - so the gardens didn't flood when it rained, planning for summer camp, helping the cook and helping with laundry. The children would usually arrive home from school at 4pm then from then till when they went to bed we would concentrate on spending time with the children- playing games, helping with homework, watching a film, reading etc.

After the Children went to bed, we often went to bed around 8:30pm and read a book or spoke. We often went to Oar House a nice restaurant/bar nearby to get some food/ was good for wifi as the wifi at the project tended to be temperamental.

A typical day at Summer Camp was waking up at a similar time, helping in kitchen, camp started around 9am and would finish about 3pm. It would be quite a tiring day and was quite unorganised- so we would be thinking up classes on the spot at times, however once the week got going it got better and now there is a much more organised plan.

What did you find most rewarding? I found each day rewarding through seeing the home develop by the work the volunteers were doing and also through seeing each child smile.

One memorable moment for me was when unfortunately the cook's brother had passed away, which meant the volunteers were to cook, we all rose up to the challenge and planned some meals. It was exciting to see the children try new foods. A few meals we made were: Spaghetti Bolognese, Grilled Cheese/Cheese Toasties (they absolutely loved these so we made them again!!), Pretzels. We also had an idea to make Banana Splits for the children, this was extremely exciting for them and for us - using ice cream, bananas, toffee, sprinkles and chocolate sauce.

Another rewarding moment for me was Summer camp, by being able to give the children something to do during the holidays and see them make some fun crafts, cook, learn new things- the children's huge smiles at the end of the challenging days made it all worthwhile.

What did you find most challenging? One of the most challenging aspects was summer camp for me. Summer camp we had to organise ourselves and even when we started it was still unorganised, so we just had to go with the flow and not get worked up. In the end though the challenge of summer camp was worth it, because every child had a smile on their face at the end of the day.

What advice would you give to others considering this project? Take lots and lots of insect repellent and after bite (I mean lots!!!! - I have so many bites). I would also advise you just go for the placement, for me it has been the best thing I have done during my life so far and now I am able to convince others to do the same so they can make a difference too. You will be able to gain so much from the project, making friendships for life and having bonds with the children- if you decide to go you will not ever regret it I can definitely promise you that.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? I think the experience of volunteering abroad is one like no other you will experience. By volunteering in a different country and culture, you learn so much about others and about yourself. The time you spend abroad may be challenging but these challenges are so rewarding in the end.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes! I chose to go with Pod because I met a representative at my university and spoke to them about the projects Pod has. I researched them when I saw the reviews and feedback from previous volunteers which confirmed to me that choosing Pod and the Belize Children's Home project was right for me.”

Sheba – 2012

“How’s life at Liberty? Things are going great over here! Some new volunteers arrived today so we're showing them the ropes. I've been having a wonderful time, the kids are awesome and although the day to day work is strenuous, it is extremely gratifying. We got to see some of the Mayan temples on our days off and hopefully heading to the cayes on our next break!

I absolutely loved working at Liberty Children's Home! The staff and children were a dream to work with. I enjoyed the fact that we could work in the kitchen or choose to work outdoors and that there was flexibility in which projects we chose to work on for the day. It made each day an adventure and exciting experience because there was so much to do and you never really knew what to expect! The kids were so inspiring and I became really close with some of them even in the short period of time I had spent there. I was also surprised at how close I got with the other volunteers, I feel that we became great friends and had a lot of fun which made shovelling gravel or plucking weeds a total blast despite the heat and bugs! I honestly felt like we were all a big family; the volunteers, staff and kids. It made working together worthwhile and extremely gratifying. Volunteering at the orphanage will be an experience I will hold dearly in my heart forever.

What was a typical day at the project? We would wake up at 6:30am and help prepare breakfast for the children. They would head to school and then the volunteers would enquire what projects had to be done for the day. Sometimes it was hard to find a staff member who could clearly delegate tasks to the volunteers so working on improvements was mostly volunteer initiated. We would either work on replanting the garden or shovelling gravel or helping out in the kitchen. Some days had bigger projects to tackle such as building a new pigpen, digging sewage drains, and building a bbq grill. We had lunch around 11:30am and helped pack lunches for the kids. School was out at 4pm and we would play with the kids when they got home and helped prepare supper and usually went to bed by 8:30pm or 9pm. Most days were like this, unfortunately during my time there, the cooks' brother had passed away so the volunteers had to take over the kitchen for a few days as well as some care giving shifts. We also had to be extra prepared for days when the kids had off from school for rain days. It was an overall enjoyable challenge!

What did you find most rewarding? Some of the most rewarding moments were when we finished a big project and were able to admire our hard work. I really felt that each day the site was improving. It was gratifying to see the instant results of change and progress. Another rewarding moment for me was when we threw a dance party for the kids. I think we really got everyone to enjoy themselves and it was one of the first times I saw one of the more troubled children smile and have a good time.

What did you find most challenging? It was a bit challenging to be prepared for almost anything because each day held new surprises so we just had to keep an open mind and go with the flow and eventually we were able to figure things out on our own!

What advice would you give to others considering this project? Bring lots of bug spray and sunscreen!! Keep cool and calm and enjoy the nonchalant Belizean lifestyle!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? I think it's very important for people to embrace the world they live in. We must celebrate each other and do things that bring us toward a brighter future. I had an extremely profound experience and learned not only about Belize and its people, but a lot about myself in the process.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes! I had done some research about different volunteer programs to find one that best matched my interests. I felt that Pod was an extremely helpful organization that offered diverse programs around the world in different areas of work. I would love to explore a volunteer project with animal care or wildlife preservation in addition to working with children and I think pod has the resources and options to allow me to accomplish what I want.

I really enjoyed my experience and I wanted to thank you so much for being so helpful and reliant, you've made this whole process a pleasure!

I would definitely love to volunteer through the Pod organization again someday! I'll keep in contact for planning my next volunteer adventure!”

Kelsey – 2012

“After extensive research for short term volunteer projects, I found that Pod offered an extremely good value for an extremely valuable experience. This was surely one of the most eye opening experiences I have ever had and the fact that it was hands on work, made it that much more gratifying.

The description in the Volunteering Guide is accurate. I would add - the work days can be very long and very hot. Be prepared to do some manual labour while the children are at school, but try to save some energy for when they get home as well!

What did you find most rewarding? The time with the kids and the overall understanding how they live.

What did you find most challenging? Not having air conditioning!

What advice would you give to others considering this project? This is a truly eye opening experience. Be ready for hard work and be prepared for developing bonds with the children very quickly.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? You will learn things that one cannot gather through simple work or reading.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes! The cost and the ease of being able to navigate the website. Also they had short term trips available as well as those that do not require a family stay.

I will definitely recommend Pod and hope that I can be back soon to try another (or maybe even the same) program!

Sarah – 2012

“The children were like any young children I have met; cheeky full of energy and with some really fascinating insights into the world. I really enjoyed learning new games and explaining snow to them. When they were in school we also had an opportunity to work with the staff seeing how they keep Liberty running and experiencing new things. Having a couple of well-earned break days was also great as Belize is such a beautiful country with loads of interesting places to see, I spent a lot more money than I planned but it was worth it for the fantastic memories of snorkelling with sharks and watching the children’s excitement over treats to name a few.

What was a typical day at the project? When the children were of keeping them entertained with crafts and basketball, when they were at school there was less structure so we asked to be given another job these included gardening or killing and plucking chickens which was a new and slightly uncomfortable experience.

What did you find most rewarding? Helping the children to understand their homework and watching them realise they can do it.

What did you find most challenging? The heat and lack of variety in the food.

What advice would you give to others considering this project? Take more money for food and activities, bring or buy a fan and be prepared to work in the heat so drink lots of water and wear sun cream

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Because they need the support but you also get to see another culture more fully than if you just visit on a holiday and seeing the work and achievements you have made is a great feeling.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes! Clear, easy to understand website, not too expensive for the placements and one of the few that do short term placement so I could fit it in around my life.”

Sam – 2012

“Firstly I just want to say that I can't wait to return, hopefully sooner rather than later. My time at Liberty was a wonderful experience. The staff, children and other volunteers were all great people which made me feel right at home and I only wish I would have been there longer.

What was a typical day at the project? A typical day began with breakfast around 7 o’clock (if you managed to get up) before the kids went off to school. I would usually help out around the garden doing various odd jobs for a few hours. It was then time to deliver lunches to the kids at school before having a lunch break ourselves. After lunch it was back to work in the garden before the kids would return home from school. When the kids were back we either spent time with them helping with homework or just playing around. Dinner was around 6 and then the kids were in bed fairly early and the volunteers had some down time.

What did you find most rewarding? The most rewarding experience at Liberty was spending time with the children. Over time you learn to appreciate the many different personalities among the children and develop various friendships.

What did you find most challenging? The most challenging aspect of volunteering at Liberty was leaving.

What advice would you give to others considering this project? If you are considering going to Liberty then it is a really easy decision to say yes and go. You won´t regret it and I hope you have an equally awesome experience as I did.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It sounds cliché but it´s great to broaden your horizons and be open to new experiences. Liberty allows you to experience something you most likely wouldn´t get anywhere else.

Why did you choose Pod? Seemed as though it was well run and offered a variety of placements worldwide.”

Sally - 2011

“At times the children have made me laugh, at times they have touched me with their kindness, and at times they have surprised me with their ready understanding and even wisdom. As I prepared to come to Liberty, I thought about what I might be able to do to help the children, and about what I could bring to them that they would enjoy. It hardly occurred to me then, though it seems so clear now, that the most valuable part of my time here, both for myself and the children at Liberty, would be the time we spend simply enjoying each others’ company.

What was a typical day at the project? Breakfast around 7:30. I worked primarily in the kitchen, and so spent most of my mornings washing dishes, sweeping, preparing  the rice before it was cooked, and packing lunches to be delivered to the children at school. I also cleaned the volunteer dome regularly. When the kids came home from school (around 4:15), I helped with homework until dinner (between 5:30 and 6:00, usually). Sometimes they were able to play outside for a while after dinner, but on most occasions they started getting ready for bed almost immediately after dinner. Because of this I had quite a lot of free time in the evenings-volunteers who are not interested in or comfortable with going out at night should bring books, movies, etc. with them, especially if they will be at Liberty during a time when few other volunteers are there.

What did you find most rewarding? Unquestionably the time with the kids.

What did you find most challenging? My time at Liberty forced me to think seriously about several issues-family structure, constructive ways to discipline a child, and the most productive way to make donations to an organization like Liberty, for example--that I had largely ignored in the past. None of that is "challenging" in a negative sense, of course.

What advice would you give to others considering this project? The volunteer dome is clean, but it is very plain, and will strike most as rustic. Volunteers are expected to supply their own cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, etc., but these items can be purchased two blocks outside Liberty's gate quite inexpensively. Although general expectations of volunteers are posted in the volunteer dome, you will need to determine many of the specific tasks which must be done on your own.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? In my case, Liberty not only offered me the opportunity to meet a number of wonderful people (other volunteers, the Liberty staff and children); it also required me to wrestle with a number of ideas I had not considered much in the past, and exposed me to a real, though not extreme, poverty.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes, I would recommend Pod to others. A former Liberty Children's Home volunteer and friend of mine recommended that I consider volunteering for the organization; I worked with Pod because it allowed me to apply to volunteer at Liberty.”

Jane - 2011

“Of all the memories I will have when I return home after my time at Liberty, I believe those I will treasure most will be the conversations I have had with the children here. After lengthy discussion, Shenelle and I have decided the attributes essential to the nature of a princess (kindness and excellent table manners, primarily); Shannon has enlightened me concerning Liberty’s traditions and habits; and Asher and I have talked about what it means to be a friend. Tyrell is fascinated by time zones, and the two of us have discussed metaphysics more often that I can say. ‘The time zones all come from England?’ he asked me. ‘They must have a really big time factory there!

What did you find most rewarding? The main satisfactions I got from my volunteer experience were the relationship development with the children, becoming part of the team, being accepted within the community, seeing the crops grow, assisting with fund raising and being around to see the results and knowing that our help was appreciated.

Volunteering at Liberty is definitely an experience! I really enjoyed spending time with the children and getting to know them, as well as meeting other volunteers and the staff. It is an amazing place to go to and feel so welcomed by the children straight away.

I feel very privileged to have spent time with such loving and beautiful children. It was a lovely experience to be involved in the lives of such special children. I also enjoyed getting to know the staff who were very kind and welcoming.

I worked as a volunteer at Liberty for three months.. Each morning I was up at 6am and helping run the organic vegetable farm. We cleared land, hoed, planted, watered and harvested vegetables like habanero peppers, tomatoes and beetroots. After lunch I tutored an eight-year-old boy who was out of school when I arrived. We went over to the Liberty pre-school and worked for anything from one to three hours. It was a great experience and he returned to regular school two months into my stay. I really enjoyed living on the campus, it was never boring between eating breakfast with the children before they went to school to playing football with them when they got back, often in very hot sunshine! The staff who look after them were fantastic people, kind, good-humoured and fun to relax with during time off. I had a brilliant time working at Liberty and living in Belize and will always remember it."

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Children's Home - Cambodia - Volunteer Reviews

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Charlotte - 2015

"Thanks for granting me this opportunity to volunteer with Kais Village. I have cherished so many memories and I am delighted to be able to share my experiences with so many people :)

What was a typical day at the Children’s Home?

MONDAY – FRIDAY

(09.45am – 10.00am) One on one session with a child with special needs

(10.15am – 10.45am) Nursery to be opened up. This can be used for play time or to watch an educational DVD. Volunteers may decide to interact with the babies as well.

(11.00am -12.00am) Children get organized for lunch

(11.00am – 12.30/13.00pm) I would use some of the time to prepare for afternoon classes and then some time for relaxation. The children would tend to nap after lunch.

(13.30pm – 14.30pm) Class for older children. It may last longer, but it depends on the activity

(15.00pm – 16.00pm) Class for the younger children. From my recollection it would tend to be something creative. For example colouring, painting. Due to their attention span this would roughly last for 30 minutes so I would then lead them over to the nursery to watch some TV - Educational or a Disney movie. Reading time can also be used during that time period

What did you find most rewarding?

The excitement that the children experienced when I organised excursions, it is rare for them to be treated to trips, therefore; I was delighted to invest my donations into something like that.

The rewards you received from teaching was also a great feeling. I felt that I contributed significantly to their education and it is rewarding to know that there English enhanced during my length of time there.

What did you find most challenging?

At first I found teaching at the rural school in Kampot to be a challenge. The children's English was very limited, therefore; there was a big communication barrier. I also found it challenging to adapt to the ways in which the nannies ran the nursery. 

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?

Prepare yourself. It is a complete culture shock, however; I would highly recommend you to embrace the culture as it will enable you to fulfil your volunteering experience.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?

The rewards you receive from volunteering at the projects is fantastic. The children are an absolute delight to work with and they are so grateful for the time you serve there. I am adamant that I made a lasting impression on the children's lives and I would strongly recommend for people to volunteer with Kais Village.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

I liked the fact that Pod Volunteer were able to offer me a combined project. It meant that my 3 months within Cambodia was distributed and I was able to gain more of an experience from volunteering in two different places."

Andy - 2015

Volunteering to teach at the Children’s Home in Cambodia is a great way in not only helping other children, that would not get the opportunity to communicate and interact with other adults from round the world but also a great way to be involved in the Khmer culture. It will take you out of your comfort zone but within a week you become acclimatized to the conditions.

What was a typical day at the Children’s Home?

Up at about 6:30, prep some food for the children (sometimes the food served would contain no fruit, veg meat or fish due to the limited budget so I supplied extra healthy food for them). Breakfast in the market which is a short cycle ride. 10 o’clock a one to one session with a young student with major learning difficulties. ! 10:30 educational DVD (Barney), if there were other volunteers they would open the nursery at 10. 11 o’clock prep for afternoon lessons. 12 o'clock lunch. 1 o’clock clean out classroom as many of the children use the classroom as a play area during the morning. 1:30 lessons with the older students which we followed a subject based timetable. 2:30 second class with the younger students. Every other day at 3:45 TV time. 5 o clock to the mart to contact family. 5:45 play games with or socialize with children. Dinner and prep for following day. Bed 9:30 /10:00

What did you find most rewarding?

The appreciation of the students at the end of the placement

What did you find most challenging?

Having no structure to start the teaching placement and having to plan everything from the beginning

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?

Be flexible. Use your own strengths on subjects you know and if it doesn't work change it!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?

To broaden your outlook and improve yourself and others”

Geoff - 2015

“Having booked a bicycle ride through Cambodia, I decided to add working as a volunteer in the Children’s Home to my trip. As it turned out, the orphanage turned out to be the main feature of the trip. I am civic minded and am involved with disadvantaged kids in Australia, and I found that I both enjoyed and gained a lot of self-satisfaction with my role at the orphanage. The kids are friendly, and their eagerness to learn could be a lesson to the kids in our more advanced countries.

Hard to describe "The project that I worked at" as it was not a normal task given to volunteers. I was given the task of sorting out the 'Mart" in the village which contributes to the orphanage. As it turned out with my background, it was right up my alley!! It was frustrating, challenging, tiring and I enjoyed it immensely.

What was a a typical day at the Children’s Home?

Helped the kids at breakfast and then helped in the clean-up of the dining room. After the first week, I did not really have a typical day!

What did you find most rewarding?

Their eagerness to learn and their enthusiasm to participate in our activities

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?

If you like kids, do it!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?

It is one of the experiences of my life that I shall never forget. Cambodia is a disadvantaged country and the kids there need as much help as they can get and I feel that it behoves us to offer to help if we are able."

Naomi - 2014

"The Children’s Home is a lovely environment, the children are very happy and the staff onsite, even though the staff don’t speak English, are smiley and approachable. The month I spent at the children’s home I shall never forget, the kids are so willing to learn and play, the joy is infectious to be around.

I had a wonderful time. Pod - Becky, was extremely helpful and provided a great amount of useful information and links I used before leaving. The placement was everything I had hoped for and more. It’s very suited for the independent volunteer as there is little help on site and you are in charge of everything once you get there, timetable, structure, classes, all of the children, everything; which was exactly what I wanted, it’s worth mentioning for the less confident volunteers thinking about doing this project as little help if any is provided.

I taught English to 3 groups, Junior and Intermediate to the orphanage children and an advanced class to the local village students (once word of mouth gets around, everyone joins the lessons!). I also chose to teach dance as that is my occupation in England. The children love to be occupied and creative, sing, play and dance. There are quite a few special needs children who also love to sing and be cuddled and shown affection. The children here are very affectionate and giving, some of their
English is very good, but it really varies from child to child. I found the older children (14-18 years old) could understand well and were able to translate in given situations. With some of the junior children I saw drastic improvements by the time I left, which is so encouraging and rewarding for everyone. There are the few naughtier children but they understand right from wrong, and seem to understand the implications even when spoken to in English.

The living accommodation is simple but sweet. I chose to stay in one of the bedrooms in the Girls house. There is also a volunteer’s house with more beds and a small cooking facility if you choose not
to have the cooks food. I found the food great, but be prepared to eat rice everyday! Overall a terrific
experience and rewarding for everyone involved.

What was a typical day volunteering as an Education volunteer at the Children’s Home?
5:30 Kids wake up
6:30 I woke up showered, went to the local market, bought any food I needed, used internet at the Mart, had breakfast.
(Junior kids go to school from 7:00-11:00.)
8:30/9:00 play in the nursery with the babies and toddlers. Sing, watch baby phonics, read to them and cuddles.
11:00 - 12:00 Advanced English class with the village students age around 18/19 (Grammar, past present and future tense, speaking, reading, quiz.
11:30 Kids have lunch
12:00 I had lunch
13:00 - 14:00 Intermediate class, aged between 14-17. Similar to advanced class structure just slightly easier for some parts.
14:00-15:00 Junior class aged 8-12 colours, shapes, vehicle, jobs, seasons, colouring, games, numbers, math.
15:00-16:00 free time
16:00-17:00 TV time in the TV room with all the children watching a movie
17:00/17:30 Dinner for kids and us
Kids wash
19:00 -19:40 I chose to teach a dance class to the older juniors (10, 11 &12 year olds)
20:00 Free time
It gets dark very early so I was usually going to bed at 21:30.

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing the improvement in the childrens English. Getting to know the childrens names and personalities. Understanding simple happiness. Learning child care as an extra.

What did you find most challenging?
Being one of me and 50 children. The amount of children and was at times hard to cope with as little help was available, however I loved the challenge. The cold bucket showers. At times the heat outside.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Go for it. Be open minded, fun and active. Adaptable to think on your feet and confident in yourself.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It’s an experience like no other. It’s broadening and so rewarding. Gives you a better understanding of other cultures, lets you live the experience as close as we can.

Why did you choose Pod?
Excellent feedback and reviews. I read the placement overview I thought most suited me as it seemed a creative role asking for confident people with interest in dance, music and play which is what I hoped to bring to a children’s home."

Ronan - 2014

"I left for Cambodia with no expectations (because I’ve learned from life that my expectations have never been right :-) ), only really that Cambodia is a developing country.

When I arrived at the orphanage there were butterflies the size of whales in my belly. But the kids soon started showing me around the place and kept me busy. A day or two later I was settled in and began to treasure every moment, be it in the garden, playing with the kids, doing art with the kids, eating the local food, playing, sitting around chatting (it's amazing how much can be communicated with a language barrier), playing and, oh my god, the stillness and silence and peace of night when bedtime came around.

If you’re thinking about going, just go. The experience thought me so much about myself , life, love, communicating with others and much much more. And I'll be going back to Cambodia, the country is an experience.

What did you find most rewarding?
The experience

What did you find most challenging?
Coming back to Sydney, the ants and the tiger-mozzies!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Don't have expectations about the place. The first few days to a week will be the most challenging, this is just a settling period. Have an open mind and heart. Be willing to learn from everyone from the youngest baby there to the oldest nannies.

If you see something that is not in sync with your beliefs, stepping into your power and leading by example and from you heart – you can be the best teacher.

Cherish every moment.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Simply it's for the experience of life: Go and experience Life.

If you’re thinking about volunteering you’re the right person. After being there and experiencing it, I can understand totally why people will never go; because some people are not ready. I put it off and off about going, waiting for that perfect moment. Until one day I said "f**k it - that's it, I'm going"
(According to Facebook people who swear are more trustworthy) :-)"

Phoebe - 2014

I had a truly unforgettable time at the orphanage, and I feel privileged to have been a part of these children's lives for the time that I was there. It was incredibly rewarding to teach and help the older kids, who were always full of laughter and enthusiasm, and it was so uplifting to see how loving and happy the younger kids and toddlers were every day.

As volunteers we felt we were needed, and like we were more than superfluous helpers there for our own benefit, which I know is an issue that worries many others when considering volunteering abroad.

I am very grateful to Pod for facilitating this wonderful experience and for their support throughout, and I would urge anyone considering this placement to take the opportunity and give as much of their time as they can - after two months, I wished I could have stayed longer.

What was a typical day on the Education role at the Children’s Home?
We woke up early, and sometimes went to oversee breakfast and help clear up afterwards, before we went and sat in the volunteer house planning lessons. Sometimes we cycled into the market to buy fruit or street food for breakfast, which was always fun as nobody in the village spoke any English!

At about 9am, we went over to the nursery to play with the babies and toddlers, reading to them, watching TV, running around, etc. until 11am, when we got them all into lunch and were given our own. We had time off until 1pm, when we taught the older class – a small group of teenagers who were very keen to learn and loved games and creative lessons.

At 2pm was the junior class, a slightly less obedient but equally fun class of kids aged 6-12. We then had a break and at 4pm went back over the nursery to look after the little ones, and either let them play in the playground or do some colouring or finger painting. After this was supper and then time off, which we spent chatting to the older kids in the house, reading or playing games.

What did you find most rewarding?
Teaching the older kids was challenging at first as I had no experience, so for the first couple of weeks I struggled with knowing what and how to teach them, but as soon as I got the hang of it, it was a real rush when I got it right. I lived in the same house as the older girls, so they soon became my friends and this made it easier to know their strengths and weaknesses, and which topics would engage them more than others. Ultimately teaching them made me far more confident and willing to adapt to any situation, which is why I would recommend staying at this placement for as long as possible.

What did you find most challenging?
At first the lack of guidance was tough, as I had no idea what I was doing and there was no set schedule, so I felt a bit lost. However, as I got to know the place and the kids this became less of an issue, and I started to struggle more with little things like the lack of hot water and toilet paper, as well as the unavoidable problem of the constant heat and humidity!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
I would definitely advise those considering this project to be prepared to adapt to things you might not be expecting, and take some initiative if you think that changing something would be best for the kids. It is also a good idea to bring some teaching resources if possible, as well as planning a few lesson ideas in advance, since it is not unlikely that you will need to teach on your first day!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Volunteering abroad gives you the chance to work alongside the locals, which is so much more fulfilling than travelling as a tourist - giving time to the kids is infinitely more valuable than money or toys, and the love and gratitude you receive in return is worth more than anything.

Why did you choose Pod?
My brother had a great experience with Pod three years ago so I knew they were reliable. The projects are also a lot more affordable than many others I had come across, as well as being flexible enough to fit a fairly long volunteer stint between university semesters."

Sarah - 2014

“The project team is incredibly passionate about helping the children and you really feel part of the family. The whole experience was amazing, and every day you feel you are making a real difference. I thoroughly recommend this Children’s Home for volunteering, not just because you get to work on a lovely rural area away from the city, but also because you can be involved in anything you feel is beneficial to the Orphanage.

What was a typical day volunteering at the Children’s Home in Cambodia?
Days are split between learning and play for volunteers. We spent a great deal of time outlining the day to day activities of the children in nursery, juniors and older kids.
5/6am - Breakfast. Older kids go to school.
9am - TV time for nursery kids to learn phonics
10am - Play time outside
11am - Lunch for all
Free time - R&R / plan lessons / go to market / spend extra time with kids
Kid’s naps - Kids will sleep few hours here
1pm - Sometimes older kids like to get taught English from local school
2pm - Older kids English lesson
3pm - Junior English lesson / anything you are strong at you can teach, from maths to drawing
4pm - TV time for everyone (movie) / play time
5pm - dinner for all
6pm - kids get washed (you can help and put to bed if you want)
Free time

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing kids laughing and smiling. Teaching something new.

What did you find most challenging?
Cambodian life is very different from Western. You have to accept a lot of things you cannot change. None of the Nannies speak English, so you have to translate via older kids. Most of the Juniors and older kids understood English, but the infants not so much, so it’s hard to manage them when good/bad. The climate is very hot and humid and you cannot do as much as you think you can. A lot of the children have been bought up in difficult situations or are disabled which takes a few weeks to get accustomed to.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Read the arrival volunteer book, this is a bible and helps lots! Be prepared that nothing is straight forward. Everything is challenging as it is so different from Western, but stick it out, as it gets so much easier as time goes on. Stick to a routine with the children, it is easier for everyone, and helps manage their day as well as yours. Try different things with them. Don't forget any child, some get left alone.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
There are not enough dedicated and experienced and educated people in these countries, to keep things moving in some areas. After even such a small amount of time, we can make a difference!”

Kathleen - 2014

"A typical day would begin getting up around 7 am - though the children are up a lot earlier than this. The volunteers would then meet up around 8 and make the 20 minute hot, dusty, crazy motorbike dodging walk to market to buy breakfast - usually bread, fruit and yogurts if we could get them. The market is an amazing experience in an incredibly poor area but very safe and we were made very welcome, just be prepared to be stared at - tourists don't usually venture here!

We then aimed to teach 3 English lessons a day at the orphanage, though this was very variable. It was clear that sometimes other things took priority. The volunteers are a very integral part of the day to day life in the orphanage and you should be prepared to do anything and everything, whichever role you have actually signed up to. Cleaning the kitchen - a marathon task, cleaning the nursery, clearing around the grounds which is mainly bamboo, mango, banana and coconut trees, digging up old paths etc. and lots and lots of time just caring for the children - washing them, trying to ensure they get clean clothes, nappies, playing, talking, singing and cuddles, lots of cuddles. There is playroom that can only be used when there are volunteers present which has a TV and DVD player, so movie time (mostly Disney and Harry Potter) also became a daily treat for the kids and a welcome sit down for the volunteers.

English lessons are run by volunteers so without them routines slip fast but the aim is to have three daily classes - nursery age where they need to establish early phonics, primary school age who need to develop reading and writing and the older children who want to develop their English grammar and extended reading and writing. Local villagers also join this group as well as some of the children's own school teachers. Most of the children can understand spoken English quite well.

The orphanage provide lunch around 11 -12 and dinner about 5-6. In my time there this was mostly rice and morning glory, with very small amounts of meat occasionally and sometimes a small fish to share amongst 3 or 4 people. Lack of food becomes hard to deal with and it is surprising how quickly you lose energy - however- Karen and Sunny the directors were putting a new cook in place to improve this and I believe they were making positive changes as we left. However, be prepared, especially if volunteering for a long time.

At night the volunteers mostly sat together in the common room. This can be utilized as volunteers like but we made it our no child zone! There are electricity points and if you do have a laptop etc. you can use it here. Otherwise there are lots of books around or mostly volunteers would just chat about the day and plan what to do the next day. Here there is also a toilet and shower that volunteers can use - many many insects, frogs and lizards also share this area but after the first few days of screaming you discover that they are really not interested in you and are quite harmless!

What did you find most rewarding?
I arrived at the same time as 4 other volunteers. Prior to this there had been no volunteers, and no manager, for some time and it was obvious to see the impact this had had on the children and the orphanage. Whilst this made it hard for us and was heart-breaking to see, it was most rewarding to know and experience first-hand how volunteers absolutely can and do make a difference when they are there - they need you!

What did you find most challenging?
The relentless heat - though I was there at the hottest time of the year. Lack of drinking water adds to this and dehydration was a problem - you really need to just get used to drinking the water supplied in the orphanage rather than trying to get it bottled from the market every day as we were doing to begin with. It does taste a bit different but it is safe and I also took water purifying tablets and added that as well!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
You really need to be prepared to see for yourself what needs to be done and just get stuck in and do it. This is rural living in an extremely poor area where people really are trying to do the best they can with very very little. Don't judge anything by western standards, be prepared to live as they do you are not just living alongside them, enjoy and appreciate every precious second with an incredible bunch of happy children.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It really does fulfil every cliché. I guess everyone sets off with the view to helping others and hoping to improve someone’s life for the better, if only for a short time, but you are the one who comes back enriched, humbled and with a greater appreciation of your own life. If you are in the very fortunate position to be considering volunteering abroad - absolutely go for it!

Why did you choose Pod?
The reviews were good, the website was very informative and it was good value for money."

Eva - 2014

"The project is an altogether very challenging yet inspiring experience. The project really is in rural Cambodia so takes a while to get used to the isolation of the project. Although the first week was hard the following weeks proved to be more enjoyable and life changing due to being able to make such a difference to the children's education and generally cleaning up the Children’s Home.

The children at the orphanage are truly inspiring and I have thoroughly enjoyed playing, teaching and getting to know all of them. They made the experience very worthwhile and to want to return in the future. Although going there on a teaching role, your role there can really be anything you want it to be. We taught mostly 2 to 3 lessons a day, but also spent a lot of time looking after and playing with the children; cleaning and organising the Children’s Home which I think made it an even better experience.

The village although 1 and half hours from Phnom Penh, it is accessible by bus which the team on site helps you organise. Karen and Sunny are very helpful and want you to gain the most out of your stay!  Thank you for a wonderful, challenging and thought provoking experience, I hope to visit the orphanage again in the future!

What was a typical day at the Children’s Home in Cambodia?
Days changed regularly in regards to helping around the orphanage, but a typical day consisted of Getting up at 7 to walk to the local village market for breakfast, teaching toddlers at 9am, lunch at 11.30am, playing with them children, lesson at 1pm for secondary age and lesson at 3pm for primary age. Not many children came from the village as lessons had not been running previously to our arrival so they did not know about it! But I'm sure this will change with a steady flow of volunteers after us!

What did you find most rewarding?
I found cleaning up the orphanage and putting in place a regular bath time and generally improving the kids cleanliness very rewarding due to seeing the instant improval in the children. We also bought new clothes and school uniform for the children which was fun and brilliant to see the big smiles in all the children's faces! Teaching was also very rewarding, through being able to improve the children's
education and get to know them better.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Go with an open mind and really consider that this placement really is in rural Cambodia, so you live very simply.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It really is a life changing experience. You are thrown in the deep end and really does help to build confidence in you own ability. By volunteering abroad you experience an entirely different culture, get to try new foods, explore Cambodia and really get to know the local people band their way of life.

Why did you choose Pod?
Good reviews and best value for money I could find."

Helen - 2014

"For anyone thinking of joining this project I would recommend it. You need to remain very open minded, especially if you have not done volunteering before. It takes a few days to adjust and can have highs and lows, but it challenges you, makes you appreciate every single simple thing you have back home and actually how blessed you are. It allows you to overcome any fears you may have of insects and bugs. And any other fears of doing something so brave and selfless.

Typical day was to get up, make a visit to the market in the early morning to get breakfast or some days we would buy more baguettes to use on more than one morning and store in fridge. After breakfast we would have a 1 hour lesson with the smaller children which involved teaching them about the differences between the UK and Cambodia, painting, making cards for special occasions, reading and some of the children benefitted from one on one time.

It was then time for the children to all have lunch at 11am so we had our lunch then too. We then had a lesson with the older children, which involved reading, talking to them and answering their own questions. The older kids are interested to know about you - how old you are and your own life. During these lessons children from outside the Children’s Home would come to get extra tuition.

Then we would go to the nursery to play with the little babies and smaller toddlers. The nursery playroom has lots of toys and a television with DVD's. The children enjoy watching tv. We gave the nursery a good clean and tidy up as well and did other housekeeping in the area.

It was then time to shower the children and teach them a routine to clean their teeth, they loved shower time. They and us would then get our dinner and play with them some more afterwards and get them ready for bed.

What did you find most rewarding?
The most rewarding part was most definitely the children. Seeing them learn something. The reaction they give when they do something well in a lesson and when you praise them. They love the praise. Sometimes it’s easy to think other people at other corners of the world are new and different to you, but they have insecurities just as the rest do. Sometimes the kids were shy when asking them to come up to front of classroom to do something as part of lesson, but they welcomed the limelight, praise and opportunities.

What did you find most challenging?
The heat was hard to adjust to but I found it most challenging when I was feeling unwell, it made it the more exhausting in how I physically felt.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
To be open minded.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
If you w ant to challenge yourself and do something worthwhile then you need to volunteer abroad.

Why did you choose Pod?
Their website was easy to understand, had all the information I needed to know ready to hand so that I could make an informed decision."

Michael - 2014

"Working at the Children’s Home teaching English to the children was a transformative experience, 4 weeks in harsh rural Cambodia was very humbling.

Standard days would include 3, 1hour, classes of different age groups. Mornings would traditionally involve in spending time, bonding and socializing with the children, some of which enjoyed learning to play guitar and sharing/introducing one another to different music. Mondays to Fridays included three, 1 hour classes starting from 2 pm.

Weekends provided the opportunity to get up to Phnom Penh (the capital city) or down to the coast, where you'd stay at backpackers and enjoy a more entertaining and vibrant side of an awesome country.

I will never forget the time I have spent at the orphanage and the bonds I have formed with the kids there!

What did you find most rewarding?
The changes one goes through spiritually and emotionally when faced with true harsh realities; one isn't exposed to in a developed western society.

What did you find most challenging?
Adjusting to living in an extreme rural society, as well as the emotional hardship of interacting and learning about the amazing children's devastatingly sad lives,

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Be prepared for a far from luxurious accommodation and dining in a heavily poverty stricken area.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
The rewarding sense of gratification one gets from spending time and bettering the days of the orphans is one that must be experienced to understand. :)

Why did you choose Pod?
After much good feedback about Pod activities, excellent correspondence and support from Pod's staff, Pod was clearly the right choice!"

Hannah - previous long term volunteer

“It’s amazing how quickly one settles into life out here as a volunteer; after only 5 weeks, I already feel I’m an integral part of the very big family they have here at the Children’s Home. Spend only five minutes here and you can already get a real sense of the bond all the children and staff have with each other, which I now feel I am well and truly part of.  I hope over the next 5 months to play a large part in the day to day life at the Children’s Home, not only through my English lessons but also through just always being around, being there for a chat, to kick a ball around, to play UNO or to watch a movie with. I hope by the time my time at the project is up; I have left the same imprint on their lives as the volunteers who came before me for the little things I could do with them. That is ultimately what it all comes down to when you pack your bag and set up life here, making an infinitely strong and lasting impression on the lives of the children out here, be it something as simple as buying them an ice cream or something as valuable as teaching them how to have a conversation in English.

Though the transition from life in Singapore to life in rural Cambodia was a particularly difficult one as was to always be expected, from hot showers to buckets of cold water, potatoes and pasta to rice and trying to make my way around without speaking a word of Khmer, which is quite a challenge in the local market; my sign language is getting pretty good. I also won’t be complaining about washing my clothes anymore, I am sure my mum will be very pleased about that. I very quickly settled into life out here not without the help of all the kids are making me feel so welcome and at home and the Khmer lesson’s are now in full swing, can’t say I’m a natural though.

It isn’t every day that you get about 7 children hanging off you, fighting for a hug and what a wonderful feeling it is.  Despite how quiet the Children’s Home can sometimes be, life for a volunteer is always in full swing and by 8 o’clock, I’m normally ready for bed, absolutely knackered. The main purpose of my trip out here was to teach English, not only to the children living at the home but also from the surrounding market village. Saying that, I was not all that prepared when on my second day on the job I had about 28 children from the market plus a baby, I think I turned into a babysitter for a while. Luckily, the classes have started to settle down but still have loads of interest from children in the village and I seem to get even more coming in every week, so much so that now I have 4 classes a day with children ranging from 8 to 18 and all their English seems to be coming along really well, either that or they are just nodding to please the mad English girl jumping around the classroom. There is nothing better than coming into my classroom and seeing a group of children all so eager to learn, I don’t think I was that enthusiastic about my French lesson’s aged 12.

Though the decision to come out alone and spend time here in Cambodia was initially quite a difficult one, I am forever thankful that I had the courage to venture into the unknown and make the massive step it took to come out here. I now couldn’t think of anywhere else I would rather be; immersing yourself fully into such a different and interesting culture is an opportunity I won’t have the chance to experience very often in my life, yet my time out here will be almost impossible to forget.”

Charlie - previous long term volunteer

“A day of living and working at the Children’s Home is a whirlwind of choices and actions. The home is so much more than an orphanage, it is a family. Each child loves one another as siblings and they welcomed me into their family with open arms and open hearts.

All volunteers that walk through these gates have one thing in common, they have a dream to make a difference in a sad world but enter into one of the happiest places on earth where the children are kind, warm, loving and never fail to appreciate the smallest things they may receive; be it some fresh fruit, a new teacher or even just a hug. We come with one view of the world and leave with another and for that we leave better people and for that I am eternally grateful.

The babies are blissfully unaware of their situation and receive as much love and attention from the nannies and volunteers as possible, they cannot get all the luxuries of a western child and many have diseases or special needs. Something as simple as bathing, changing or playing with the babies, letting them know they are loved is a great part of being here. Giving them the love they deserve is an important part of living at the Children’s Home and it is always a wonderfully happy day, as it is for any mother, seeing a baby roll over, or crawl, walk, talk, smile, even eat properly for the first time.

The nannies work so hard and we have become very close, western standards are very hard to keep in an orphanage but they try their best with bleach and cleaning materials and try very hard with their English which is great fun for all of us. If there is music blaring from the village we all dance the day away, making jokes and talking sometimes for hours on end. They are all incredibly sweet and caring women some of whom have been at the Home for years and tell stories of previous volunteers.

Food is very important to every Cambodian, so for the nannies, each meal time I care for every child in the nursery so they may all have a 15 minute break together which is always precious time as there is never a moment’s peace inside the nursery. For this time they are always very thankful and I have found that it is the least I can do for them.

When I am not teaching or engulfed in another project I like to liaise with any visitors that come to the Children’s Home because the children all thoroughly enjoy meeting people and they always want to welcome them with big hearts graciously into their home. It is also great from a personal side meeting visitors that come; it puts you back in touch, ever so briefly, with the outside world. However when I do escape for a few days to Phnom Penh I have been lucky enough to do such things as be a bridesmaid at a Cambodian wedding or meet other volunteers from different parts of the world.

Work and responsibility here has varied for me as it has for others and as well as teaching between 2 and 5 hours a day of lessons with toddlers through to 20 year olds-I happily do any other job that comes my way. I have been put in control of the store cupboard, handing our supplies, clothing, and toiletries as well as managing all donations that come into the project. Also inventorying the medical room as well as helping the doctor and nurse with medications and making sure that sick children get to hospital. I have also been closely involved in writing sponsorship profiles for the children in the hopes that we may get them all sponsored very soon thus making it possible to continue caring for them.

All of the day to day tasks the kids like to help me with, especially growing herbs and vegetables in the garden to improve their diet and learning about what they are doing. They are eager to learn in any and every way and I am more than glad to teach them anything they want to know. My mornings are dedicated to the nursery and chores around the site whereas my afternoons are for teaching and learning.

I teach a wide spectrum of subjects including art & craft that some of the children have taken a shine to, so once a month we work on an artistic project to try and inspire other children and visitors. Trying to be inventive in a place with limited resources really forces one to use initiative so we have made such things as hanging mobiles for the nursery, Christmas cards that we can sell to raise money for the Children’s Home along with many other great projects that the children so thoroughly enjoyed doing. Not only is my job to educate but I am also here to make sure the children have plenty of fun, which makes organising events such as the Christmas party an absolute joy to do.

A sense of pride always envelops me when a child understands what has been taught that day and when they start using what they have learnt in everyday life, in conversations, in tasks and chores; the pride is overwhelming. Their enthusiasm to learn is heart-warming and makes every lesson a delight to teach despite the language barriers that I have now learnt to overcome.

Living without the luxuries of the western world first seemed like an impossible task but now it feels as if I could almost do without them. Giving up things such as a washing machine, a fridge, internet, air conditioning and hot water seems a small price to pay for the wonders of the Cambodian life style and the home that I have here.

In the evenings the children are so exhausted from the day of school and games that we sit and read or swing in the hammock and sing until we fall asleep. I have been given a name by the older children; they said that now that I am Cambodian, I need a Cambodian name. They settled on ‘Pri kai’ which means ‘star’ they explained that they chose the name because I am their ‘star bright’ which they then agreed meant ‘shining star’.

I am soon to make a change and go to a province called Kampot where the HIV/AIDS outreach centre is, supported by the same project as the Children’s Home. I plan to spend a few weeks there to help in running and give the children some basic schooling, as well as trying to advertise the centres need for help to the public and educate the local community about children suffering from HIV/Aids - then my time in Cambodia will be coming to an end.

The easiest decision was coming here and the hardest is choosing to leave. It has been long, it has been tiring, it has been exhilarating, but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this is truly my once in a lifetime experience.”

Ellie - previous long term volunteer

“When I first arrived at the orphanage I was amazed at how incredible it is here. There is a brand new boy’s house and girls house, a dining room, a nursery and a fully equipped school room as well as a farm with mango trees and pigs, all set in beautiful, peaceful grounds.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first week teaching English to the children from the orphanage and the village, as they are so eager to learn. It is great fun trying to think of games to play in class to support their learning (and then trying to explain the rules through sign language). It is really pleasing when you teach them a set of words one day and then to hear them using them during conversation the next day when they are talking to you. It can be a little embarrassing as in this week the class have picked up vocabulary from an entire topic on the human body and describing people when I have only just managed to learn my numbers up to 5 in Khmer!

Having fallen in love with the little toddlers, I have taken on the opportunity to set up a kindergarten for the younger children. They will have the chance to do arts and crafts, play with more mature toys and start to learn English and numeracy. Even though some of the toddlers can be little pickles at times, I am very excited about this project and cannot wait to get it off the ground.

All the kids here are great fun as well. I am living with Hannah in the girl’s house and we watch English DVDs where we sometimes have to explain what is happening in the story. We have also been swapping music tastes and the girls have been singing me some popular Khmer songs, which I now hum along during my day. In the rain the other day, we put on some music and taught each other different dance moves although I failed embarrassingly at most of the graceful Khmer dances. The girls are a great bunch and have made me very welcome here at the Children’s Home.

The other people that work here have also made me feel right at home, including the cook who is always checking I have enjoyed my food and the nannies who are always keen to kick off a conversation even though we may be talking about completely different subjects in our different languages.”

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Child Care, Creative Arts, Sports & Teaching - Nepal - Volunteer Reviews

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Aisha - Creative Arts, 2015

“How would you describe a typcial day volunteering at the Creative arts project in Nepal?

A typical day would consist of waking up around 8 and having breakfast with the other volunteers on the balcony. I had the breakfast made by the host, Bindu (porridge and fruit). I would leave to get to Ward 6, the playschool, and get there for 10. I would play with them and teach them some creative skills such as making a simple bag, sock puppets and lots of drawing. We would sing with the Teachers there and do alphabet. At around 12:30 they would begin their lunch and I would assist in helping the children eat. After that they would have a nap time which was when I would leave.

I would have about an hour and a half for lunch at a local cafe (rice, sushi etc.) before heading off to Street Kids. I would play football with them, draw, play and paint with them. One of the days I taught them some very basic tai chi which they loved! Before it started to get dark we would head back and go out for a meal and have traditional Nepali Dal bhat (rice and lentil soup with veggie curry). After I might find some time to prepare some arty things for the following day!

What did you find most rewarding?
I absolutely loved playing football with the Street Kids, helping the younger ones make paper chains. I loved making little bags with the kids at ward 6.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Bare in mind that nothing is expected of you, you are free to bring any skills to the table that you have. For example, I was on a Creative arts placement but joined in with the football and helped with homework. The kids benefit from you being there as it is good for them to be exposed to an English speaking person, so don't put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect. Have fun and go with the flow, if you think you have a cool idea, go for it!
Don't give too many presents as the kids will then expect it from you which is a shame as you are there to offer your skills and your time.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It’s definitely eye opening to be exposed to a different culture. You learn so much from challenging yourself and gain confidence and skills.

Why did you choose Pod?
I thought their website was very informative. They were really helpful before you go and always replied to your emails. They are a charity and seem to really want to help their placements rather than just give the tourists an experience.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Ruth - Teaching and Child Care, 2015

"I was excited to be returning to Pokhara as a Pod volunteer, having done the 'Volunteer Experience' in April 2014. It felt like 'coming home'! December was a great time to be in Pokhara – clear blue skies almost every day, breathtaking views of the mountains, and it only rained once. I felt that I must have the best walk to school ever! The main streets were very festive in the run-up to Christmas and we were lucky to have the Mountain Festival at the Mountaineering Museum while we were there. The highlight – as previously – was working with the children, especially at the school (Annapurna) and at the street kids' home, and it was lovely to go back to Asha too. Bindu made us volunteers so welcome in her home, and invited us to the Christmas celebrations with her church community, including an evening carol service around a blazing fire in the front yard a couple of days before the main event. The teaching was a great experience and I felt that it was possible to make a difference even in a relatively short time (4 weeks).

How would you describe a typical day volunteering in Nepal?
Breakfast on the veranda at the top of the house with the other volunteers, looking up at the mountains and the peace pagoda; arrive at school just before 10 and stay til 1pm; free time til 3.30pm then walk to street kids' home – help with homework, plus arts and crafts for a couple of hours then walk back; free time til dinner then a stroll into the main area for a meal and usually a bit of browsing after eating as shops were open til 9.30ish.

What did you find most rewarding?
Teaching! I had a class of just 6 kids (age 8–9) and lots of support from Tika, the regular teacher. The kids had quite a bit of English and were keen to learn. They were very receptive to some new approaches! I also really enjoyed the arts and crafts activities with the street kids – they are a brilliant bunch of

What did you find most challenging?
Dirt and litter! There seems to be no culture of throwing sweet wrappers and rubbish into a bin – everything is dropped on the street or dumped into river streams. Such a beautiful place when you look up at the mountains but not so beautiful at street level.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Read the Pod booklet carefully as it has lots of excellent information! Bring a few story books / resources for teaching and think up a few ideas to make lessons fun and engaging.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
You can make a difference in a short time, and come back with some wonderful experiences to share.

Why did you choose Pod?
I've done two previous trips with Pod and both have been well organised and well supported. Pod is making a difference with the projects they are supporting in Nepal.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes"

Edwina - Film and Photography, 2014

"Volunteering with POD in Nepal was the greatest experience of my life. When I first arrived in Kathmandu I was terrified, I didn't know what to expect and I was so far from home. When I got the phone call from Sarah she put me right at ease. Everything was taken care of. The bus trip to Pokhara was long but so worth it. I was able to chat to the other volunteers and see some amazing scenery.
Bindu's house was so welcoming, I felt like part of her family. My room was comfortable and I even had my own bathroom! Bindu really likes to get to know the volunteers and genuinely cares about you, she'll bring you soup and rice when your sick, make you breakfast and have a chat in the mornings and she will even stay up late to make sure you got home safe.

The placements I was lucky enough to work at were great. I felt really appreciated and got some awesome photos and videos. The kids were more than happy to get the photo taken and loved to see the end result.
Although I was doing a film and photography placement I was still able to help with childcare and teaching which was great because I really got to know the kids and create a special bond. I loved my time volunteering so much that I extended my time there. Whether your studying Film and Tv or Photography or you just like to take photos, I highly recommend this, your able to capture so much more than if you were just a tourist. Your able to capture and see the real people of Nepal.

Pokhara is amazing. There is so much stuff to do. There are traditional Nepalese restaurants as well as western restaurants and plenty of cool bars. On the weekends I was able to go paragliding, boating on the lake, shopping and I went to a Tibetan Buddhist Temple (which was incredibly beautiful). You can even organise weekend trips to Chitwan National Park. I never had a dull moment.

Volunteering with POD has been the greatest experience of my life I cannot wait to go back.

How would you describe a typical day volunteering in Nepal?

After toast and tea at Bindu's, I walked with the other volunteers to our placement. Ward 6 is a underprivileged childcare centre in Lakeside. The childcare volunteers would lead the class in singing, dancing, games and play time and I would get involved and take photos. We would stay here for about 3 hours. After lunch and a bit of a break, we would walk to Street Kids. Street Kids is a home for a group of young boys who have been rescued from the streets. We would help them with their home work and then play football, volleyball or do some drawing. At least one day a week we would take the older boys to use the internet.

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing the kids I volunteered with at Annapurna Primary School learning and speaking english was amazing. And just seeing these kids who came from horrible situations at home smiling, dancing and singing. It was fantastic.

What did you find most challenging?
I think having to emotionally deal with knowing that when you leave these kids everyday they go home to situations that aren't good for them. When you leave them at the end of your trip you don't know whats going to happen to them.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Just do it. Don't freak out. It will change your life.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
I know it sounds corny, but you learn so much about your self. You learn to appreciate the little things. You'll have an adventure.

Why did you choose Pod?
Because POD had very good reviews. Film and Photography really appealed to me. They are not for profit.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Jade - Child Care, 2014

“I had the most amazing two weeks volunteering with Pod, they were so supportive from start to finish and Janice and Sarah are absolute stars who made me so comfortable from the start and could not have been nicer! I cannot recommend Pod highly enough as I had the most amazing experiences and will never forget my time in Nepal. If you are thinking of volunteering for the first time but are unsure, don’t be, you will be so well looked after with this organization and take home memories to last forever.

How would you describe a typical day volunteering in Nepal with Pod?
A typical day for me was being up and ready to leave Bindu's at 9.50AM ready to walk to Ward 6 which is a ten minute walk once you get the route down. We would play with the beautiful children and then get involved with lessons and help out with basic English along with singing dancing and story reading.

We would then help the teachers with dishing out the children’s lunch and would leave at one. We would then have a nice break to go for lunch or do whatever else we could fit into the day, followed by walking to Street Kids which is a half an hour walk away. Street Kids is amazing and involves helping the boys with homework and then playing, talking and entertaining them until 7pm.

Following Street Kids we would generally come back to Bindu's to freshen up and then go out for dinner and to visit some of the fab bars that line the Lakeside strip.

What did you find most rewarding?
When the children at Ward 6 felt comfortable with me and would come over for hugs or to sit in my lap. I loved it when they would repeat back any English words that i would try and teach them and also any work we did with Street Kids as the boys are so appreciative of the time you spend with them and are the most lovely humbling, bright and intelligent children!!

What did you find most challenging?
The language barrier when trying to teach Ward 6. Because the children are so young they only know a few very basic English words, so its very difficult sometimes in that respect because you cant talk to them.

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved?
No, I honestly thought it was faultless!!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
You HAVE to do it, you wont regret it and will have an amazing time and meet amazing people along the way!!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Because it is something that will stay with you for the rest of your life and will be the most rewarding thing knowing that you have helped to leave a positive impression on these kids lives and that this will shape their lives in the future. You will be part of the bigger picture!

Why did you choose Pod?
Pod was chosen for us by the company we work for, but its easy to see why they did chose Pod after working with Sarah and Janice.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes, thank you so much to Sarah, Janie and Gemma as well as Bindu for the support and for making this process the best experience ever! I didn't want to come home and wish I had been in Nepal longer!”

Yasmine - Child Care

“I absolutely loved every minute of my time volunteering with Pod. Sarah was wonderful and so was Janice and they made me feel very welcome.

What did you find most rewarding?
Teaching and playing with the children.

What did you find most challenging?
The hygiene standards.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Go for it! You won't regret it!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It will give you a sense of perspective and achievement

Why did you choose Pod?
BE Corporate Volunteer project

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes. I had an absolutely fantastic time. "

Nicola - Child Care, 2014

“Support from POD from both the UK and in Nepal was excellent. Any queries were dealt with promptly. The site also provides all the necessary information. Bindi and her family made everyone very welcome at the guesthouse.

What did you find most rewarding?
The whole experience.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Talk to others who have been on the placement. Read any reviews, blogs on the website.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Life experience. Develop personally. Immersion in a different culture and way of life

Why did you choose Pod?
Non-profit organisation. Personal and small organisation

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Katie - Teaching, 2014

“I spent 4 weeks in Nepal teaching at Shree Krishna Secondary school. Pod were very understanding and flexible and allowed me to teach English instead with classes as young as nursery all the way to year 3. I absolutely loved my time in Pokhara; settling in to a new and completely different culture was incredible. It allowed me to properly engage with the locals and get a feel for how they live their day to day lives. I also met some amazing people and I would recommend it to anyone.

How would you describe a typical day volunteering in Nepal with Pod?
School started at 10am, so I would usually wake up at 8:30. The guesthouse I stayed at provided us with a delicious breakfast every school morning. Then at 9:30 I would head to school and it would usually take 20mins. When I arrived at the school all the children were always so happy to see you. At 9:55 the school had their assembly; where all the children would line up in their classes and sing the national anthem. At 10am, my friend and I would work with year 1 and we would take groups of them up to the library for 15mins and then swap them around. We found this to be very effective, as it enabled each student to get one to one attention.

We would continue to do this with year 2 and 3 until lunchtime. Lunch was half an hour long and we would usually go to a corner shop for lunch. Then after lunch I would work with the nursery class. School ended at 3pm. We were free to do what we wanted after that.

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing the children's English improve over the four week course was the most rewarding, but seeing how happy and friendly all the children were was just as gratifying.

What did you find most challenging?
I wasn't aware that teachers still beat the children as a form of discipline. I found that quite distressing when I first arrived

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Go in with an open-mind and just embrace everything. Enjoy the uncertainty and the unfamiliarity.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It's a great excuse to visit somewhere you've never been to before. It also broadens your knowledge and exposes you to a whole new culture.

Why did you choose Pod?
It was recommended to me by a friend.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Deborah - Teaching, 2014

“I felt very supported while out there and I liked the fact that everyone was staying one place to allow us to get to know people on different placements!

How would you describe a typical day volunteering in Nepal with Pod?
I went on this volunteer holiday by myself but I was never lonely! As everyone was there for the same reasons we all got on well and gelled as an ever changing group, as volunteers came and left. We went out for evening meals together and always had stuff to talk about from our placements and activities from the day. Sarah and Chrissy (and Buttons) made us feel very welcome and reassured knowing that there was someone who knew the area who could help if there were any problems.

What did you find most rewarding?
The staff and students were great and very welcoming so I found working in the school and trying different ideas very rewarding as they responded so well!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Definitely go as it was an amazing experience!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
To help see that the rest of the world is not as jaded as Britain!

Why did you choose Pod?
Ability to do short placements.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Rebecca - Teaching, 2014

“Sarah (Pod Nepal Volunteer Manager) was brilliant, she was very supportive. She emailed us a week before we came over and answered a few questions I had and whilst we were there both her and Phil resolved any queries we had immediately which made my life a lot easier :)

How would you describe a typical day volunteering in Nepal with Pod?
The people in the community make you feel really welcome as does Bindu, her family and the school where you volunteer. I was there for a month and I wanted to stay longer, I built such fantastic relationship with the children and the teachers, they really appreciated what you were doing for them and it was evident that they genuinely enjoyed the fun, creative activities that were planned for them. Volunteering Monday to Friday meant that you had the weekends to explore and I definitely made the most of this time, Pod were really helpful when it came to booking different things. I went trekking, to chitwan national park and then to local sights like the Peace Pagoda, Devi Falls, Mehendra Cave etc. It was lovely to meet other volunteers that were staying at Bindu's and plan to do things with them at the weekends, or even plan to go out for tea with them during the week to natter about the day :)

What did you find most rewarding?
The break through you had with the children. A good example is one of the boys in grade 1, he always drew guns and was quite angry, in the last week he drew flowers for the first time and coloured it in with our felt tips. It was an incredible moment.

What did you find most challenging?
The language barrier with both teachers and children, but Phil was very helpful when communicating with teachers.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
pack walking boots, take flashcards and plenty of coloured paper and pens.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It is a life changing experience, one I wish lasted longer!

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Katie - Teaching, 2014

“I had a fantastic time in Nepal. When we arrived I immediately felt looked after and safe. Sarah was there to greet us in Pokhara and showed us around the town as well as giving us an induction on what we should expect at our placements.

My placement was really interesting, I was teaching English to nursery and class 1 and 2 at Shree Krishna School. The school had basic facilities so it was helpful to have prepared some activities and resources to bring, such as flash-cards and games. The teachers were friendly and keen to improve their own English with me. A highlight of my time there was during the Women's Festival, the school had a day of celebration where we danced, sang and ate delicious food that the teachers had prepared!

On the weekends we were able to go on trips and explore Nepal. One weekend we went on a trek to Poon Hill which was a great experience, I found it extremely physically challenging but definitely worth it for the views and to see more of the beautiful country! Another weekend we went to Chitwan National Park where we saw rhinos and crocodiles! It was a really nice way to spend a weekend! I would also really recommend Paragliding, which is a popular activity to do in Pokhara. The views were outstanding!

How would you describe a typical day teaching in Nepal?
School started at 10. Would start by taking groups of students from class 1 to the library for about 10/15 minute sessions on basic reading and writing. Would then do the same with class 2. After lunch I went to the nursery class where we played games, practiced the alphabet and numbers, sung songs and did some arts and crafts. School ends at 3.

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing the progress in just 4 weeks by some of the students. (Particularly in the smaller groups that I took out the library - which I found an effective way of teaching as the students benefited from more one-on-one English practice.)

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Make sure you come prepared with some ideas of what to teach as well as resources as it is nice for the children to have access to resources that they would not usually get on a day to day basis such as arts and crafts materials and games.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Teaching English to children who are disadvantaged abroad is very rewarding. It is also extremely important and helpful for them because tourism is a big source of income and therefore being able to communicate in English will benefit them financially.

Why did you choose Pod?
I was recommended Pod by a friend, and the website was very comprehensive and gave me a good idea of what to expect. The information from Gemma was also very helpful.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Georgina- Teaching, 2014

“How you describe a typical day teaching in Pod Volunteer in Nepal?
My days in Nepal on this project were busy, but very rewarding and I enjoyed every day. In the mornings I volunteered in a small school, teaching the children; English, Maths and Science. In the afternoons all the volunteers met up together and we went off to the Street Kids Centre. There we helped the children with their homework, played games and sometimes went to the park to play cricket or football. We normally finished volunteering at the centres around 6pm. After volunteering, and having a bit of time to relax at Bindu's guesthouse we would all go out for supper in the town of Pokhara, or have a Nepali home cooked supper of Dhal Bhatt at Bindu's.

What did you find most rewarding?
What I found most rewarding was my placement at the women's centre; Bhanni. I found this most rewarding because I felt I made a great impact on improving their English, and I saw that the girls truly wanted to learn. What I also found rewarding was coming back to Nepal for the second time. When I returned to Nepal this year, all the children recognised me and welcomed me with the biggest grins and opened arms. This made me feel and realise what a huge difference volunteers make to the life's of the children.

What did you find most challenging?
What I found most challenging was teaching in the local school. I found this most challenging because when I was teaching there I learnt about the different backgrounds of each child and what they have been through. I found it hard not to get too attached to the children. I also found it sometimes hard to teach the children because they couldn't understand what I was always saying, or explaining a task to them. I found it sometimes challenging to keep the children engaged with an activity for a long period of time.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Remember it is not a holiday, and it is hard work, and a different way of living. And remember to bring a good waterproof and a good pair of flip-flops.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
You should volunteer abroad because I felt it is the most rewarding thing you could do. You make a massive impact on the children's life's and education by spending time with them and playing games. I also felt that the children taught me things that I would never learn if I didn't volunteer. Volunteering abroad also got me to travel alone, which brought we huge amounts of confidence to travel again and try new things. You also get to meet other volunteers from and around the world and have the time of your life.

Why did you choose Pod?
I chose Pod because the minute I got in touch with them they were so friendly and answered every question I had, no matter how silly it was. I also chose Pod because I got the feeling that they truly care about all the placements they help across the world, and want the best for each of their placements. I have now gone abroad with Pod twice, feeling just as safe and confident travelling with them as the first time. I am already planning my next trip with Pod for next year.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends?
Yes”

Daniel-  Teaching and Child Care, 2014

“The time I spent in Nepal was probably one of the most fun months I have ever had. Pokhara is such a cool city where you can do several activities and, if there is a clear skies, you can see the Himalayas which is very very beautiful. I am extremely pleased with the overall experience and believe that it was exactly what I was expecting after reading the booklet and my conversations with Gemma. Also, Chrissy, the point person in the placements was extremely helpful and the fact that she was there made my experience an incredible one.

How would you describe a typical day teaching in the schools and at the Children’s Centre in Nepal?
The placements are very fun too, and they are very well organized. During the mornings I would go to the school for 3 hours and teach and play with the kids, with a great deal of help from Miss Tikka, the teacher of classes 3 and 4. In the afternoons, I would go to the street kids centre. There are 11 kids that can speak very good English and that love having volunteers around. You help them a little bit with their homework but once they are done with that, you can just play with them. There is a field nearby and you can take a ball or a freesbe and just spend an amazing afternoon playing with them there. They also love doing different activities, I took them to the pool with the other two volunteers for a day and they absolutely loved it. It´s just an amazing experience. I have to say that Chrissy from Pod was there to help us and keep us company and I think this made such a difference, the experience wouldn´t have been the same without here involvement.

A typical day at the project would be arriving at 10 o´clock at the school. They are ready to start at 10.30 and you teach the kids until 1pm non-stop. You change subjects according to how the kids are feeling but you basically teach English, Communicative English, Maths, Science and Social Studies. Sometimes, if the kids are feeling tired or not particularly engaged you can play some games like card games or Simon Says...
In the afternoon, I would go to the Street Kids Centre. You help them with their homework at the beginning of the afternoon and, once they are done with their school work, you start playing with them. Chess, Drawing, Freesbe, Football...You can take them to the park, once a week to internet...

What did you find most rewarding?
I think the most rewarding aspect is the fact that you can do some activities with the kids like taking them to the internet, taking them swimming or to the lake... You can see then how happy they feel that you are there and you are doing with them things that most kids in Nepal regardless of their background are not used to do.

What did you find most challenging?
In my opinion, the most challenging aspect was the fact that, at Annapurna Primary School, we had to teach not only English or Maths but all the other subject as well but Nepali. I taught Science, Social Studies, and other subjects that I was expecting.

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved?
I would have liked for the teachers at Annapurna Primary to give me some initial guidance of what we were expected to teach, however, I understand this can be hard for them as they do not speak English and maybe they do not have the materials ready.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
The important thing is to realize that you are traveling to a development country and that there are going to be some occasions where you have to sacrifice comfort over other things, but that should not make you feel down about the placement because if you look at things with perspective you realize that, yeah, maybe you haven´t had a warm shower in a week, so what, you have had an amazing experience helping some lovely kids and thats what counts.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
When I went to the street kids centre and you compare their level of English with the average level of English in Nepal you realize that having volunteers around has helped those kids learn English and how important this is going to be for their future. They also do other things with volunteers that an average kid doesn´t normally do and you feel you are making them feel special even though they have a very though background, and that is very noble in my opinion.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends and why did you choose Pod?
Yes, I think it was the most comprehensive website, where all the placements were properly explained and the conversation with Gemma shows how serious the organization is.”

Jacqueline -Teaching and Child Care, 2014

"The organization by Pod in the UK and Nepal was excellent. Nepal itself didn't disappoint. Spectacular scenery, lovely people. Kathmandu was a bit of a shock to the senses but I was based in the lovely town of Pokhara. Take a torch and lots of batteries. When I was there in March, there was only 4 hours daytime electricity. Some places have generators and others, like the guesthouse, have inverter which means a single light at all times.

The street kids, who were actually kids from broken homes, were a real pleasure. They were very polite and well behaved thanks to the Nepali woman who looked after them. She was doing an amazing job. They appreciated everything I took in. (I couldn't take enough stickers and balloons). Although, having said that, there are a couple aged 12 and 13. The youngest is 7. Also, don't forget the lady's daughter. They have Monopoly and a couple of other things but, I think Scrabble would go down w ell. They were great fun.

My placement involved teaching at a secondary school in the morning and helping out at a street kids centre in the afternoon. I didn't actually do much teaching because the school had brought the exams forward. I spent most of the time invigilating. However, I would suggest having something prepared for your first few lessons until you can understand w at you are going to teach. All teachers were friendly and welcoming.

If you have time to travel, I suggest a trip to Chitwan National Park, elephant safaris, jungle treks etc. Generally, I'm really glad I did this. It was an amazing experience.

What did you find most rewarding?
The street kids

What did you find most challenging?
Lack of electricity.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Research the country. Take teaching materials and lots of things for the street kids. Poundsaver had lots of things suitable for carrying.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It's a completely different experience even if you have travelled a lot.

Why did you choose Pod?
I was impressed by their literature and organization.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes."

Marion - Teaching, 2014

“As an older volunteer who had teaching experience, I definitely found the teaching and relationships I made with the staff and children the most rewarding aspect of this placement. Pokhara is an unusual and quirky place but it is probably more suited to younger, energetic volunteers who want to eat, drink and trek during and after their placement. Having said that, I had a fabulous time and did not feel too old at 62 to make the most of what Pokhara has to offer even though I did not go trekking, para gliding, Zip flying or take undue advantage of the numerous bars and restaurants!

How would you describe a typical teaching in Nepal?

It took me twenty minutes to walk to Annapurna school and the walk itself was great fun and entertaining. School started at 10 so I always made sure I arrived a little early so I could talk to the children in the playground in English. As I had teaching experience I chose to teach the whole class and planned my lessons accordingly. My main aim every day was to teach them something practical and useful through modelling, looking at the real world and utilising the language skills they all ready had. I used the teachers to translate if necessary. I chose to teach English, Mathematics and Art in three one hour sessions. The lessons finished at one and then the children had an hours lunch break. I chose to leave at one because at 3.30 I walked to the Street Children's centre and spent an hour or so helping them with their English home work. I usually arrived back at the hotel about 5, had a rest then got ready to go out for my evening meal.

What did you find most rewarding?
I found working with the children the most rewarding. They are eager to learn, happy and enthusiastic and teaching them was an absolute joy and pleasure. It was hard not to become too attached as they are naturally a beautiful people with an engaging innocence you rarely see in the West.

What did you find most challenging?
I suppose initially it was the lack of electricity and hot water but after a while I just got used to it and decided we are ' over clean' in Europe!!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
If teaching, be professional in the class room and give the children a thoughtful, well-structured lesson. For the first day or so have some simple lessons prepared like how to say 'Hello' in English. Go through the different ways we greet each other, act them out, let the children act them out, write the words down and draw a picture to match. Once you have met the children and teacher you can ask her what she would like you to teach and then plan accordingly.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
For a young person who has only lived in the West, this type of experience can only make you a better person. It gives you an invaluable insight into another culture and hopefully makes you reflect on our devotion to consumerism and technology.

Why did you choose Pod?
I chose Pod because the company was recommended to me by a friend who had volunteered in Thailand. She said how much she enjoyed the programme and how safe she felt. I think the word 'safe' is an important one. It doesn't matter how wonderful the placement may sound, if you don't feel safe it can be a disaster for all concerned.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes. Chrissy and Phil were very attentive, professional and helpful throughout my entire placement and Pod should be very proud of them.”

Orla- Child Care and Teaching, 2014

"My Christmas & New Year placement in Nepal was rewarding, heart-warming (although the rest of me was freezing!), challenging, and great fun! Pod strike exactly the right balance between guiding you and offering support, and leaving you to form your own friendships and giving you enough space to be creative in developing lesson plans and workshops. This meant that my placement truly was perfect.

I had lots of freedom and felt like a local but at the same time it was so reassuring to know that Chrissy was always there if I needed help - or just fancied going for a pizza and a beer! I returned with a heavy heart but with a totally different perspective on life and feeling so grateful for all the basic things we have, and so often take for granted, good health care, education, electricity, plumbing, heating etc. Nepal and its people have definitely gotten under my skin (can't wait to go back one day!). I will remember my experience forever.

Thank you wonderful Pod."

Joanna - Child Care and Teaching, 2013

“My Nepal childcare experience was everything I could have hoped for: the placement struck the right balance between cultural immersion and home comforts and between giving the volunteer freedom and a supportive network in-country and back in the UK; I always felt well informed, but never overburdened; Chrissy was as much a friend as a volunteer manager; and the children I worked with were such a bundle of fun. It was a shame to only spend two weeks on placement, but I definitely feel that I've found a place I would return to! There is a great demand for volunteers in Nepal, a lot of poverty and many charitable causes competing for your attention, but it was very clear to me early on that Pod is putting its money in the right place.

How would you describe your typical day volunteering in Nepal?
I would spend the morning, from 10am-1pm, at Annapurna Primary School teaching a class of around 12 children, who ranged in age from 6 to 13. We would cover English and Maths within the three hours, with a short break between the two. The children's textbooks would be a reasonably good guide to their ability, but I would try and make the class as interactive as possible with a mixture of games and whole class activities - they have loads of energy! After a couple of hours' lunch break, I'd then spend the afternoon, from around 3.30 to 5.30 or 6 at the Street Kids' Centre, helping them with their homework and, once they had finished it, keeping them entertained with arts and crafts materials, marbles, a hula hoop, or whatever we had to hand.

What did you find most rewarding?
The response from the children I was working with: they are so pleased to see volunteers, even though they have a constant stream of new faces.

What did you find most challenging?
Nothing really to do with the placements, but the combination of power cuts and no hot water took some careful planning to get used to!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Don't try and plan for your first lesson - have some game up your sleeve, but you'll need to gauge the ability of the children first. Be prepared to sing, dance, get covered in paint, glue etc. and generally get stuck in. Carry a torch! You never know when the lights are going to go off...

Why did you choose Pod?
Primarily because you offered a two-week placement, which was the maximum length of time I could give, but also because the organisation seemed reputable and genuine.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes"

Sinead- Volunteer Experience, Child Care and Teaching, 2013

“I didn’t know what to expect when arriving in Nepal but I had the most amazing 3 months and wish I didn’t have to leave. As soon as I arrived, I felt welcome and found it easy to settle in; both at the guesthouse with Bindu and the family and at the placements with the children. At first the Nepali way of life can seem quite disorganised and challenging but it’s best to just embrace it and take it as part of the experience! In my first month I took part in the volunteer experience which gave a good introduction to Pokhara, the traditional lifestyle of Nepali people and an insight to the different placements. With the other volunteers, we were able to plan projects for the children each day including activities in school and days out to the lake, the park and local museums which were all successful and enjoyed by everyone. During the day I worked at Annapurna Primary School whilst my afternoons were split between the Street Kids Centre and the Bahini Centre and Fridays were spent at the Asha Orphanage. All of the placements were so different but the people I met were all amazing and made every moment enjoyable. I was lucky enough to have an in-depth Nepali experience as I was in the country during Teej, Dashain, Tihar, the election and of course, some unexpected strikes. However, this meant that school was often closed, flexibility is definitely important when working in Nepal, whether it’s due to a strike or a bit of rain, your plans will change without much notice and there isn’t a lot you can do about it except embrace the experience. Fortunately, I was able to spend a lot more of my time at the Street Kids Centre which is a placement that is easy to love. The children are friendly and all instantly interact with the volunteers, repeatedly saying ‘namaste, what is your name?’ It’s easy to get on with everyone at this placement as the language barrier isn’t really an issue but it is worthwhile making more of an effort with the quieter and more difficult children in the group that don’t immediately show an interest in taking part in activities. During the holidays a lot of the time was spent doing art & crafts or going to the park. Special occasions were always interesting; on Halloween we managed to carve pumpkins, bob for apples and paint everyone’s faces which produced a lot of excited children whereas for a more Nepali occasion, we were invited for a lovely goat dinner at the centre during Dashain. Time here was definitely enjoyable and it was difficult to leave at the end of my trip. Overall, I loved every moment of living in Pokhara, being a tourist going paragliding, rafting and canyoning, spending evenings with Chrissy and other volunteers enjoying the local area and working with some inspirational people that I will never forget. I had an incredible time which would not have been possible without the Pod team helping at every moment. Volunteering is definitely a rewarding, worthwhile experience and I would 100% recommend Nepal as a beautiful place to go with wonderful people that you won’t want to leave and I look forward to returning in the future!

How would you describe your typical day volunteering in Nepal?
A typical day would usually include starting work at Shree Annapurna Primary School at 10. We would start in nursery, usually singing some rhymes and learning basic English vocabulary then we would move into Class 1 and 2 to have english and math lessons. Afternoons would be spent at either the Street Kids Centre where we would help the children with their homework and then play games or having English lessons at the SOS Bahini Centre. However, being in Pokhara for 3 months meant that I was there long enough to experience multiple festivals, strikes and the election which made it impossible to maintain any kind of routine. Although the schools were closed a lot, there was always something to do as volunteers were needed at the Street Kids Centre as much as possible.

What did you find most rewarding?
The volunteers definitely bring benefits to the children and have a massive influence on the progress of their education, the whole experience of working with the children is rewarding and it’s great to see how much they enjoy having the volunteers around

What did you find most challenging?
The approach to education is entirely different in Nepal because of the culture which can be challenging at times but having a plan and basic structure did help (this still does not always go to plan and it is definitely important to be flexible when working in Nepal).

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
There is no point stressing when unexpected things happen or your plans don’t follow through, there is a lack of structure in Nepal generally and it’s better to go with the flow and embrace everything that happens because it’s all part of the experience.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
You can become a part of an entirely new culture and learn so much more than if you were just travelling through the area. You will have some amazing experiences and meet some incredible people that will teach you a lot and allow you to put your own life into perspective but most importantly you will get to use your own skills to benefit the lives of people that need and deserve it. Definitely worthwhile.

Why did you choose Pod?
It is a non-profit organisation and I was able to access reviews and pictures from past volunteers which gave me an idea about what should be expected from the placement. I was also happy to know that there would be someone in the country to introduce me to the area and support me if I needed it. I would definitely use Pod again in the future.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes”

Chloe - Child Care and Teaching, 2013

“I have just come to the end of an absolutely amazing 2 weeks volunteering in Nepal and wish I could have stayed for longer. It was no doubt the highlight of my month in Nepal.

We spent the mornings teaching at Shree Annapurna Primary School, a small government school in Pokhara. This was really challenging, particularly with the language barrier and the variety of ages and abilities in the same classes. But the children are extremely receptive and eager to learn. Although volunteering is, as it is regularly described, rewarding, the opportunity to get an insight into Nepalese life and education is something I would have never gained from simply travelling here.

Our afternoons were spent at The Street Kids Centre. I absolutely loved going there and it provided the perfect complement to our mornings teaching. Here it was much more informal, it was mainly fun and games, arts and crafts. The kids are adorable and so welcoming, warm and kind. We will always remember them.

I cannot think of any other organisation I would have preferred to have volunteered with. Pod are a not for profit organisation with in my opinion, the right attitude to volunteering. They provide ongoing assistance to the schools and centres they support and are aware of the disruptive nature volunteering can cause. On a personal level, the support from Chrissy in Pokhara made my time here so easy and enjoyable. She was a constant source of local knowledge and help and even introduced and included us in her day to day life in Pokhara. We joined her on several Zumba classes which was so much fun.

All Pod volunteers stay with Bindu and this made our time here such a comfortable experience. Bindu and her family are incredibly kind and welcoming which made us feel totally at home. It is the perfect combination between a guesthouse and a homestay and after our trek we couldn't get back to Bindu's fast enough.

Pokhara is an amazing place to do a placement. When we weren't volunteering there was always something to do. We climbed the World Peace Pagoda, bobbed around on boats on the lake, went paragliding and enjoyed the many restaurants that Lakeside has to offer. From Pokhara we spent a weekend rafting and canyoning and at the end of our trip went trekking. It is a beautiful town and an ideal base.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It gives you an insight into the everyday of life that you would not simply gain from travelling.

Why did you choose Pod?
Not for profit organisation with the right attitude to volunteering. Small groups in each place and ongoing support in the community.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes. I cannot recommend volunteering with Pod, in Nepal enough and I would love to come back!”

Elinor - Volunteer Experience and Child Care Volunteering, 2013

“I really enjoyed my placement and loved spending time with the street kids. I felt that we worked well with the limited resources we had and used our previous experiences to help us to overcome obstacles and provide a good experience for the children. It is imperative that you work as a team with your fellow volunteers and that you keep the reason you are doing the volunteering in the forefront of your mind. A truly unforgettable memory :-)

How would describe a typical day volunteering in Nepal with Pod?

Due to the festival, I do not believe that my time in Nepal accurately reflects what should be a typical day. I think the challenge with working in Nepal is having to work around all of the different festivals, strikes, and various other reasons why they decide to close the schools with no notice for undetermined periods of time. That said, whilst I was there, we were able to spend each afternoon with the street kids, doing different arts and crafts, playing sport and taking trips around the local area.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?

Be prepared to work within difficult environments and to change at a moment's notice. It is important that you remember who you are doing this for. Yes, you are doing it for yourself, whether it's part of a gap year, or something you have always wanted to do but never had the chance until now and you want to get the most out of it, but ultimately, you're doing this, or should be doing this, for the local people. What they want and what they need from you should always be a large factor in your decision making.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?

It is a unique experience, no matter what you decide to do or where you decide to go. You learn a lot about yourself and your capabilities, you work with others to achieve a goal, and hopefully, you have loads of fun and make fantastic memories in the process!!!

Why did you choose Pod?

I thought they looked like a caring organisation with the right goals and objectives. I was right!

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?

Yes"

Kim - Teaching English and Child Care, 2013

"I spent three weeks volunteering in Nepal and I can honestly say it was one of the most rewarding and interesting things I've ever done. In the mornings, I was teaching English at SOS Bahini, a centre for girls who were at risk of being sex trafficked. Given what some of the girls had been through, I was a little apprehensive that they might be very vulnerable and I wasn't sure how I should approach them. My fears were unfounded, however as the girls were an absolute delight to work with and despite what some of them had been through, they were no different from any other teenage girls. I found that I was able to quickly build up good relationships with them. As well as teaching them English, they also taught me many fun games and a great deal about Nepali culture. In the afternoons, I met up with the other volunteers and we went to the street children's centre where we played games and sports with the boys there. It still amazes me how Nepali children can come up with amazing games and entertain themselves with so little - even a pad of paper and some crayons can keep them busy for hours! Aside from the volunteering, I was lucky to meet some wonderful people amongst the other volunteers and I have made some good friends. Despite differing ages, nationalities and social backgrounds, we all had the same things in common - our love of travelling and our desire to help people less fortunate than ourselves and it is these things that helped us all bond. We also had the opportunity to be tourists - one weekend, a group of us went paragliding one day and the next day, visited a Tibetan village. Another weekend, a few of us went to visit Chitwan National Park where we rode elephants and saw regional dances which was incredible! I would recommend this to anyone who decides to volunteer in Nepal. Bindu and her family were the perfect hosts and welcomed us into their lovely home as if we were lifelong friends. We all had fun on momo night (we all tried our hands at making the Nepali dumplings, mine weren't great though!) and sari night where we all got dressed up in Bindu's saris and took lots of pictures! For anyone who is considering doing this, I would say - do it. It is such an amazing thing to have done, the kids are fun, fantastic and cheeky and make you rediscover your own inner child! It is also the perfect opportunity to meet some wonderful people, not just the other volunteers but the amazingly warm and welcoming Nepali locals who make you feel like part of their family. I spent a total of five weeks in Nepal and I didn't want to leave - I'm already planning my next trip back as I miss Pokhara so much - I think I've found my spiritual home.

How would you describe your typical day volunteering in Nepal with Pod?
I would head to work at SOS Bahini for 10:30 am where I taught English for two and a half hours. I spent an hour and a half doing grammar exercises with them and then an hour playing English language games such as hangman and word bingo which the girls loved! After lunch, the other volunteers and I would head to the street children's centre at 2pm and we would play games with them such as volleyball, cricket, board games such as snakes and ladders and also they would enjoy drawing and colouring in. We would head back to Bindu's for about 4:30pm.

What did you find most rewarding?
It's hard to think of one thing as the whole experience was so rewarding - the way that the children enjoyed the simplest things and how they could make games out of practically nothing; how cheeky they are; how enthusiastic they are about everything!

What did you find most challenging?
I would say the way you have to almost overlook what some of the children have been through - some of them have been through some pretty awful things but you have to not think about that in order to just treat them the same as any other kid - they don't see themselves as victims and neither should you. That's pretty challenging.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Leave all your Western ideals at home and just go with the flow. Things happen in Nepali time, which is any time really! Our motto on the placement was "play it by ear" - things happen when they happen and there's no point getting stressed if the bus was supposed to turn up an hour ago and it isn't here yet - just grab a coke and sit back and enjoy the sunshine!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It really humbles you and makes you realise that the silly things we worry about at home really aren't important at all - at the end of the day, if you have your health and good friends, nothing else really matters. It's good to challenge yourself and get yourself out of your comfort zone.

Why did you choose Pod?
I was recommended them by my sister who had done a similar project in Thailand.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes”

Sarah - Teaching, 2013

"The Pod team in the UK organised everything for me perfectly, every step of the way I felt completely supported and confident that everything was taken care of. Gemma was always very friendly, reassuring and happy to answer any of my questions. In Nepal, Chrissy was the perfect person to have there. She was always willing to sit, listen and offer any advice she could; I really appreciated her support. I loved my placement once in Pokhara, it was organised brilliantly. Everyone was so welcoming and there was a room full of ideas and resources at Bindus which was invaluable. The accommodation was great, I loved staying with Bindu and her family. They were so welcoming and looked after us all so well.

Choosing to volunteer with Pod in Nepal was the best decision I have ever made! I loved everything about being in Pokhara; from the placement teaching in the school to my wonderful accommodation. The stunning views never got old; Lakeside is for me the most beautiful place in the world. Volunteering allowed me to become a part of a culture and experience the day to day realities that the locals did. It also enabled me to meet some of the nicest people I have ever met. They were like minded and made my time in Nepal so much fun! Pod were the perfect organisation to go with. They offered so much support, both from the team in the UK to the practical support once I was in Nepal. Everything was organised for me when I arrived in Kathmandu - this made settling into a new country and adjusting to the new sights, sounds and smells so much easier as I didn't need to worry about anything! I couldn't be happier with my decision to choose Pod and can't fault them in any way; from the service I received, to the support the placements and local projects Pod supports, receive.

How would describe a typical day volunteering in Nepal?

A typical day would begin with all of us volunteers eating breakfast together at 9am. This was lovely time for us all to discuss what we were planning to do that day with our classes or at our respective placements. School began at 10am and I would then be there until 1pm. I taught English, Maths and Social Studies; the children were lovely and eager to learn, and I was welcomed whole heartedly by the teachers. In the afternoon, I volunteered at the Street Kids Centre. The children here were great, and being at the centre was so rewarding. We helped them with their homework and then played games and did art with them. In the evenings all of the volunteers would go out for dinner and then a bit of planning for school the next day was necessary!

What did you find most rewarding?
The children; they made my entire experience!

What did you find most challenging?
What I struggled most with the discipline that I witnessed. The children are hit by the teachers and other adults; it is part of the culture and therefore something that is part of their society. I found it very hard to see and found it challenging to my beliefs both morally and ethically.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Come with an open mind. Think beforehand about what you can offer the placements and what your specific skills are. Don't expect to change the world, it is just not possible; however, you can make a difference and you should be proud of anything you achieve in your placements - no matter how big or small!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
For you: you get to immerse yourself in culture and have experiences that you would NEVER have had otherwise! For the people you will volunteer for: you can offer so much. You can really make a difference to people, and that is so valuable.

Why did you choose Pod?
I did a lot of research and Pod seem to me to be by far the most ethically sound charity. Through supporting local projects and its transparency, I felt that it was a reliable and trustworthy organisation - I am glad to say I have been proved right!

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes”

Hannah - Child Care and Volunteer Experience, 2013

“My time in Nepal was amazing. I worked with incredible kids, stayed with lovely people, lived in a beautiful country and met friends for life. I would recommend it to anyone as it is such a rewarding and wonderful experience that I will always remember.

How would you describe a typical day volunteering with children in Nepal?
Everyday was different at Ward 6 so it was very important to go with the flow! I would arrive at 10 am and play in the garden waiting for all the kids to get dropped off. We would then move inside at about 11 and sing songs until about 11:30. There would then be either informal teaching until about 12:15 or so when the teachers would bring out building blocks and general games. After this we would help serve lunch before cleaning it up, helping the kids brush their teeth and lay them down for their nap. We would then have a couple of hours break before going to the street kids rehabilitation centre. Here we would help with homework for a bit before moving on to some sort of arts and crafts activity. We would sometimes bring an activity for them to do or often we would just bring paper for them to show us all their origami skills. Whatever they are interested in at the time. We would leave the street kids centre at roughly 5:30 and have the rest of the evening off.

What did you find most rewarding?
I found the street kids centre most rewarding and we spent so much time with the kids that you could really see the progress each one was making. It was very rewarding to be trying to explain something to one of them and for it to click.

What did you find most challenging?
I found Ward 6 most challenging as because they were very young it was hard to teach them as many of them were still learning Nepali! With many of them being different ages they were all at different levels as well. If I was going to go back I would maybe take out groups of the older kids to see if you could help them. I found we made more of a difference when we tried to do education through fun and easy games rather than formal lessons.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Throw yourself into it. Even though you are in a new place and doing something you may have never done before with new people or even on your own don't be too hard on yourself if it takes time to slip into. Just go with the flow at your placement and if something doesn't work just try a different way. Enjoy every single moment and take every opportunity you can as you will miss it so much when it is over!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
I would definitely recommend volunteering abroad as it not only helps the people on your placement it gives you a great insight into the culture of Nepal. Living in one place and interacting with Nepalis gives you a much richer experience of the country. Nepal was my favourite country I went to on my gap year and I think one reason is because I was there for the longest. You really do feel like it is your home and I felt a bit uncomfortable being a tourist in other countries afterwards. You are introduced to aspects that you wouldn't have been otherwise.

Why did you choose Pod?
I chose Pod as I wanted to volunteer in Pokhara and most of the other companies only choose Kathmandu. Furthermore, it is a non-profit organisation and cheaper than a lot of the rest. Having a contact out there also drew me to it and it is nice to have Chrissy there who you can talk to and can introduce you to a lot of Nepal. Lots of the other company’s seem to set you up and then leave you.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes”

Sariya - Child Care, 2013

“I had an amazing experience in which I was actually able to change some things for the better, like the way English was taught at the child care center, as well as the quality of the learning-through-play. I've travelled all over the place but this was by far the best way to actually experience a new country.

What did you find most rewarding?
When the children I was taking care of would scream "P for Papaya, A for Apple..." after I taught them the alphabet. And the children not letting go of my leg on the last day.

Why did you choose Pod?
Very transparent organization with a very good mission.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes”

Georgina - Child Care, 2013

“Volunteering in Nepal was the most rewarding experience I have ever done. The children and adults at the orphanages and street child's centre welcomed me with opened arms, ready to learn and play with me. Harriet, who helped and organized the volunteers and our placements made me feel at home and welcomed very quickly. She was good fun and a great role model to look up to. All the other volunteers were so lovely, and we became good friends very quickly. Volunteering in childcare is difficult, hard work and sometimes emotional, but I think is the most rewarding experience you can do, and all the children appreciate everything you do to help and develop their lives. Our accommodation at Bindu's was fantastic. Bindu and her family welcomed and treated us like another member of her family. I felt very much at home there, and was sad to leave. My overall time in Nepal was amazing, with other fantastic experiences such as, going to Chitwan to ride and bath with elephants, and also paragliding over Pokhara. I really recommend volunteering in Nepal to anyone who loves spending time with children and wants to make a difference in a child's life.

How would you describe your typical day volunteering in Nepal?
I volunteered at Ward 6 and the Street Child centre. In the mornings, from 10am until 1pm I volunteered at Ward 6, which is a small centre for two to three years olds where you would help look after the children, and also help teach them english, games and music. In the afternoons, from 2pm until 4-5pm I volunteered at the Street Kid's centre. There we played cricket, helped with their homework and did lots of colouring in. After the Street Kids it was our time to relax, I normally went for a walk around the streets of Pokhara or spend time with Bindu and her family. In the evenings we would all meet up and go out for supper together, telling each other about our day, there was always a funny story to tell about the children, and what they did that day. Some evenings we would spend time and have supper with Bindu and her family, which I always looked forward to as Bindu and her family would always make us a great feast.

What did you find most rewarding?
What I found most rewarding was helping teach the children at Ward 6 English. It took a lot of patience and confidence, but when the children understood what you were saying, or repeated a word to you in English, it was an amazing feeling, and felt so proud of them, knowing you have just made a difference and skill in their lives.

What did you find most challenging?
What I found most challenging was the discipline the children were given at Ward 6. If a child did something wrong they would get hit, not very hard, but I found it hard to watch even though I knew to the teachers it was the right way to discipline a child.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
My best advice to give is to remember that it is not going to be a holiday, and it's not a place where you can really relax. It is hard work and sometimes emotional with the children. However, it was great fun, all the volunteers were lovely and everyone you meet are welcoming and will help you in whatever you need. Also bring games with you when coming Nepal. I found that the children, especially the Street kid's centre loved colouring in, so lots of pencils and paper.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
You get a different view of the world, and understand that not everyone lives the way you to. You also get the chance to live somewhere you have ever lived before, and in a completely different way of life.

Why did you choose Pod?
When I viewed the Pod website I could see real photos of the children from different projects. I could see other people blogs and comments about their experience abroad. Also the website is always being updated and improved. The minute I spoke to Pod I just knew this was the project for me, and I know for sure I will be using Pod again for my next trip in the future.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes”

Patrick - Teaching, 2013

“All nerves evaporated upon the warm welcome I received at Bindu's guesthouse, and, with Chrissy's help, I quickly got into the swing of life in Pokhara. The children at Annapurna primary school were wonderful and, despite the initial impression of chaos, loved the lessons and games, and were even quiet at times! It really was important to go with the flow, though! At the street centre, the children were very resilient, and extremely good natured, in fact quite inspirational. Certainly, the whole time in Pokhara put things into perspective, was an extremely valuable experience, and I have every intention of going back! The set up Pod have there works very well, and, for anyone thinking of volunteering, know that you'll be well looked after.

How would you describe your typical day?

Breakfast at 8, and I got to Annapurna Primary School for 10. I would start teaching the three elder students English (in general it was good to work in small groups or one to one), and also basic science. This was usually interspersed with lots of laughs and cheeky jokes! Then I would usually teach a lesson to the whole class for about 20 minutes, such as Bingo, or a Nepalese nursery rhyme in English. After that, I would take children out for one on one reading, or work in the class, going around the room helping with maths. Then it was time for lunch and rest (it takes a lot out of you!) before heading up to the more relaxed street centre, where I helped with homework, chatted and played whatever games took the spur of the moment. Many evenings, I went for extra language lessons with the wonderful language teacher Prem, and ate dinner with him and his family.

What did you find most rewarding?
On a personal level, it was rewarding (you could say humbling) to meet children who were thriving, despite such difficult backgrounds. Actually, I felt like I learned a lot more from them in this regard than anything they might have learned from me! But with teaching one to one work was especially rewarding, as the moment when the 'light clicked' with something as basic as simple maths (which we all take for granted) was great.

What did you find most challenging?
Life in Pokhara, and the lives of the children in the school and street centre, are much more 'raw' than we are used to. It wasn't that this was challenging in a bad way though but the reality checks were pretty much never-ending whilst there. But that's life! Otherwise, more specifically, sometimes the teacher did not come in, and so the whole class had to be managed for three hours. Nevertheless, two of us managed to do this quite well, and so the challenge, putting us outside our comfort zones, was actually a silver lining!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Learn some of the language before you go (and when you get there, get extra lessons from Prem) - the children will love it, and will love teaching you more of their language. It is good for them to be the teacher sometimes!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
To see life outside of one's own narrow circle, to understand how 'real' life is in a developing country, to make a small but important difference somewhere on the other side of the globe - and to throw a whole new light on your own culture.
Why did you choose Pod?
My trek finished in Pokhara, and it seemed like the best option of charities in Pokhara. [I did not want to be based in KTM or in a remote village - Pokhara is the perfect compromise - you might want to bring out more on the website why Pokhara is such an ideal spot]

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes. See you in 2014!”

Nicola - Teaching, 2013

"I thoroughly enjoyed every moment at Dipya Jyoti Primary School in Nepal. The children and staff were delightful and so welcoming. Hopefully the children benefited and got as much fun / learning as I did from spending time with them. The classes ranged in English speaking/understanding ability and on retrospect perhaps volunteers in the future could spend more time going back to basics with those children clearly struggling. Also I recommend asking and hopefully getting some kind of timetable otherwise it's tricky to plan lessons. Most successful were the interactive classes where the children were not left sitting for too long but involved in games, writing on the board and role playing....sometimes this bordered on anarchy! but such great enthusiasm and lots of laughter! All I can say is thank you for such a memorable and truly life enriching experience. Every time I think about my time in Nepal I get transported back into a 'happiness bubble'. Sadly back to reality now.....

How would you descibe your typical day?

School began around 10.00a.m usually with exercises out in the courtyard. The first class was never the same two days running so you have to go with the flow and have ideas up your sleeve for each class. With the nursery class we did nursery rhymes, looking at simple books and loads of colouring. A must is to take lots of drawing paper, you can't ever have too much of this. With the older classes we did word bingo introducing simple everyday object, colours, animals etc. Lots of role playing e.g. shopping which introduced everyday foods etc and one child being the shop keeper who had to add up all the prices in exchange for pretend money. We drew endless spidergrams on the blackboards of all the parts of the body, fruits and vegetables, animals, family, clothes, simple questions and answers, memory games. 'Simon says' was a brilliant game for learning parts of the body and introduced movements alongside this. On the last day I took some paints in and at one point had all the children in the one class all wanting to paint! I wish that I had taken some child friendly scissors out there!

What did you find most rewarding?
Working with the children.

What did you find most challenging?
Understanding the children. I would absolutely recommend making the effort to learn basic Nepalese

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Don't consider just go and do it!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
An essential reality check. A soul enriching experience

Why did you choose Pod?
A work colleague told me about Pod

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes."

Ruth- Volunteer Experience, 2013

“The Volunteering Experience was a really well-thought out introduction to volunteering in Nepal. The project came at the end of the school year when the kids had just finished their exams and so was more summer camp / creative play than formal teaching. Working as a small team, we built the solar system from balloons and paper mâché at a primary school, organised a sports day (very successful) and a treasure hunt (mayhem but great fun) at a secondary school, took the street kids on days out to a newly opened fun park and the International Mountaineering Museum (really good museum), and also spent time at the orphanage.

A lovely feature of the Volunteering Experience was the opportunity to sample a variety of placements, plus the sightseeing day out with all the volunteers, which was a great way to get to know everyone, go boating and see the sights (including the World Peace Pagoda). As an older volunteer I loved being part of a group that included some amazing gap year youngsters as well as interesting and resourceful volunteers close to my age. Actually, I thought I was the same age as the youngsters some of the time (I'm sure they didn't share that feeling!), especially during the white water rafting / camping weekend when I jumped into the river from a cliff. Whoa! I'll certainly remember that weekend with a huge smile. Pokhara is lovely, and I felt very safe walking round Lakeside on my own, day or evening. The homestay at Bindu's was great, I felt part of a big happy family. I'd originally planned to combine two weeks' volunteering with two weeks' trekking but extended my volunteering to a third week as I enjoyed the teaching and being with the kids so much. And I still had time for a challenging and fabulous trek with a guide into the foothills of the Annapurna.

The Volunteering Experience was a sampler, so each day was different. We typically started with discussion of the plan for the day around the breakfast table at Bindu's. We usually walked to school for a 10am start and a morning of creative activity. We stayed until lunchtime or whenever the children were ready to leave, and would sometimes have a few kids accompany us down the road for a bit as we walked back. Most afternoons we went to the street kids centre where they shouted Namaste ("hello") as we arrived, and we then got stuck into arts and crafts activities for a couple of hours. There's plenty to do in the evenings and we'd often eat together as a one big group, or in smaller groups and meet up at some point for a beer and some laughs.

What did you find most rewarding?
Being with such amazing and delightful kids was the real highlight. The street kids, in particular, speak excellent English (through regular contact with volunteers) and were an enormous pleasure to be with, even teaching us origami and some Nepali. The children at each of the schools, and their teachers, were keen and enthusiastic to learn or play, depending on the day's activities. Coming up with some creative ideas with just basic resources (paper, pens, balloons, stickers) was very rewarding.

What did you find most challenging?
Pokhara Lakeside is laid back, plenty of good places to eat, drink and hang out. Nepal is nonetheless a very poor country and the poor sanitation, frequent (though timetabled) electricity cuts, dusty streets, and pre-monsoon downpours take some getting used to. It's not like home – but that's the whole point of volunteering and it doesn't take long to adapt to Nepali ways of doing things.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Do some reading so you know what to expect in Nepal. Come with some ideas for helping children (and their teachers) to learn through play as well as from books. Think about what you can give, and also what you hope to gain from your time there. Be realistic and be flexible – plans can change at short notice and it's good to go with the flow. Don't pack white trousers!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Step out of your comfort zone, embrace difference and new experiences, put things that may bother you a little or a lot at home into perspective. As a tourist you mostly see places, hotels and other tourists; as a volunteer you engage a little more deeply with local people and children, and gain a little insight into their lives.

Why did you choose Pod?
I've volunteered previously with POD (in Peru) so didn't even consider other options this time. It's a small organisation, its people are committed, caring and supportive.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes. I had an amazing time and would love to go back!”

Jeff- Teaching, 2013

"In short, my time in Nepal has been awesome, having made some amazing friends and met some amazing people; it will be a shame to leave. I feel I have made long lasting relationships, not only with the other volunteers here, but also with the teachers and students I have worked with every day. I really feel I can leave Nepal having made a positive impact on the people I have worked with; this has only been made possible because of the wonderful people of Pod, (Gemma and Chrissy in particular,) their meticulous organisation, support and friendliness mean my whole trip has been hassle free from start to finish. I know its a cliché but, forget any worries you have about coming to Nepal, when you arrive throw yourself into the culture and you'll never forget it; I can’t wait to return!

After travelling for more than 24 hours without sleep, enduring flight delays, cancellations, lost luggage and having virtually no sleep, the first thing that hits you when you arrive in Kathmandu is the sheer craziness and mayhem of the place. Bikes, taxis and busses, with luggage and people piled high on their roofs and spewing out of their doors, all jostle for position on the city's dusty and dilapidated dirt-track roads. It's fair to say that even the most experienced traveller gets that "what was I thinking?" feeling when contemplating the prospect of spending three months in this crazy country. The ironic thing however is that, the one thing that unsettled me most when I arrived in Nepal, that being the total mayhem and disorganisation of the place, is now the thing I love most about this wonderful country. The hilarious willingness to close schools the week before exams because of strikes and hour long waits for drinks in bars only add to your admiration of the Nepalese people and the way they embrace life by taking things, (and indeed themselves,) a little less seriously.

Any feelings of doubt whatsoever disappear the next day when you leave Kathmandu for the calm of Pokara and within a week, thanks to Bindu and the girls along with Chrissy and Phil, you are not only settled into your new home but well on the way forging long lasting relationships that will allow you to make a real difference during your time volunteering in Nepal.

Teaching at Shree Bhalam primary school, Pod's furthest placement from lakeside, means taking an hour long bus ride the outskirts of Pokhara and then crossing a huge suspension bridge to get to work. The bus ride is probably one of my favourite part of the day as, despite being groped, given Nepalese kids to hold and travelling with boobs in your face, it is a real chance to see how the real Nepal works and how its wonderful inhabitants interact with each other. At school I spend my time teaching English to kids across the school. When I arrived in school I was given a timetable for my classes and now plan and teach my classes completely independently; Pod placements allow us all to be as independent as we like so you feel although you are really making a difference where you are and are being appreciated by both your students and teaching colleagues alike.

There is a great network of support here in Nepal, whether this be from the Pod team or the other volunteers here; there is always someone to discuss your day with and we all enjoy sharing ideas and techniques with each other at the end of the day. The social scene in Lakeside is also amazing, along with some great nights out, the central location of Pokhara means we have been able to enjoy trips to Chitwan national park, Lumbini (Buddha's birthplace,) weekends rafting and weeks in Kathmandu. One of the highlights has definitely been watching the sunrise over the Himalaya during one of our treks!

Living at Bindu's is amazing; Bindu, Janice and Julia welcome you into their home from your first day and are always on hand with a wealth of local information and funny stories! Their home is the perfect balance between hotel and home-stay; you are welcomed into their family, eat and socialise with them, however are still given the freedom to come and go as we please. Bindu is always on hand to deal with whatever Nepal can throw at you, be this water and electricity shortages to bringing you soup when you are ill.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It allows you, not only to visit some wonderful places but, make a difference in the lives of the people you are visiting. Far from being a tourist, you will find you are welcomed with open arms into the community and respected for the work that you are doing there. It allows you to see the real country you are visiting and leave a little part of yourself there, in the form of the skills you have taught, when you leave.

What advise would you give to others considering this placement?

Totally forget any concerns you have about the logistics of the placement. Pod are a wonderful organisation, with great morals and a great team that will take care of you from the moment you first email them to the moment you get home, and longer if you want!"

Peter - Volunteer Experience, 2013

"A truly mind blowing experience. I would thoroughly recommend volunteering for any age or gender. The UK Pod team were very friendly and stayed in touch throughout my visit whilst Chrissy the Pod member in Nepal made us all feel at home and was such an inspiration to me. I found it a refreshing change from my western life to be able to immerse myself in a totally different culture and felt welcome at all times. Nepali people are so friendly and I will always look back on my time in Nepal as both enjoyable and hugely rewarding. The accommodation could not have been better as we were all accepted into Bindus family and way of life. The placements were fantastic and gave a true insight into the challenges the children face. Despite these challenges the children were so happy and grateful for time spent with them.

What is a typical day at the project?
I would wake early (sometimes due to an eagle landing on my roof). I would then have breakfast with the other volunteers during which Chrissy would arrive and we would all discuss the day’s activities. We would then leave for our placement and spend the morning there. After lunch we would make our way to the Street Kids Centre and either take them on a visit somewhere or spend time enjoying different activities. I would return to Bindus for dinner or we would all go out into the town.

What did you find most rewarding?
The most rewarding aspect I found was being accepted by the children.

What did you find most challenging?
Not being able to help in some situations

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved?
Absolutely not.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Be prepared for Nepali time. It’s very relaxed! Come with ideas or activities the children love to learn and play.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It’s a life enriching experience. You get to see far more of the culture and return with some wonderful memories.

Why did you choose Pod?
Professional friendly staff both in UK and placement.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes. I intend to Volunteer with my daughter the year after next. She is very excited. I will be using Pod."

Julie - Child Care, 2013

“I loved Pokhara-the people were friendly and there was a great atmosphere and personality about the place. The experience made me reflect and think about how people live and about what’s important in life. I worked with a great team of people, ranging in ages. Everyone supported each other and I felt I'd known people for a lot longer than two weeks. I did some fundraising for Pod and know where the money will go on the project. I gave up time to go to Nepal but gained so much back from the children and other people-a great satisfaction from helping people. I thought the project was very worthwhile.

What did you find most rewarding?
Visiting all 3 placements-Kids Street Centre, Bahini School and Annapurna Primary School. The children really enjoyed the visits and I got a lot of satisfaction from going.

What did you find most challenging?
Being as resourceful as possible with not many resources in the schools.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
To be open minded and go with a positive attitude. Take time to absorb the culture and the way of living.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
To make people more culturally aware and to be more international minded. To get satisfaction from helping others.

Why did you choose Pod?
The website looked well organised and liked the people I spoke to on the telephone.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes”

Lizzie - Child Care, 2013

“I had a wonderful two weeks in Pokhara, Nepal volunteering with Pod and would highly recommend it to anyone. You really get to see the benefit of the work you do and bringing happiness and smiles to the children you work with is so rewarding. Chrissy and Phil are a fantastic support and Bindu and her family make you feel so welcome at her house, I really didn't want to leave! Overall it was a wonderful experience and I'm so glad I volunteered with Pod. The staff at the UK office were also fantastic, Gemma gave me so much support and answered all of my questions. I couldn't have asked for a better experience.

What is a typical day at the project?
There is no typical day really, which is what I really enjoyed. Each day is different! Some days I would be helping the children with their alphabet and numbers, other days we would be learning about animals and colours, practicing handwriting or singing nursery rhymes!

What did you find most rewarding?
I found getting to know the children really rewarding and it was lovely helping them to learn by assisting with class activities. It was also great to interact with the children during playtime and share in their energy and enthusiasm!

What did you find most challenging?
I would say that perhaps the language barrier could be challenging sometimes when trying to communicate with the children but you find a way around and the language lesson that is included at the start of the placement is very useful.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Always have an open mind and be flexible. Have fun and enjoy it. You only get out as much as you put in, so prepare activities and come with ideas of what you can contribute.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Volunteering abroad is a great way of experiencing a different culture. You get to interact with local people directly and you make a positive impact on a community at the same time, which is a really rewarding feeling. You also get to meet lots of lovely people and will leave with lasting memories.

Why did you choose Pod?
I chose Pod because I really liked everything I read on the website. Everything was so well organised, and the help and support you get from the start with Pod continues throughout your volunteering journey. I felt really secure and comfortable knowing I was in such safe hands.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes”

Vienna - Child Care, 2013

“The experience was great. Pod were so helpful from the beginning- helping me choose the right placement etc. from arrival, Chrissy was available to show me round, and help me get settled in. The placements were really rewarding. The street kid’s project was great and I feel that the children and Ama really enjoyed having people around to help. Accommodation was great with Bindu.

What did you find most rewarding?
Helping street kids with homework and playing games. They are so resourceful and are happy to play games involving ANYTHING!

What did you find most challenging?
At the beginning, it was a shock to see how poor the children at ward 6 were. They would go through my pockets, trying to find anything they could play with/ eat. They had so little. The hygiene levels at the children's centre were not great so that took a while to get used to.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Try and do longer than 2 weeks if working with children - gives time to build relationships, get a routine and become more useful.

Why did you choose Pod?
Recommended by a friend

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes!”

Donna - Child Care, 2013

“The kids were great and they loved learning differently. Some teachers came in to watch and said it was interesting to see my methods.

What did you find most rewarding?
Generally just seeing the kids look happy when you spent time with them or did something a bit different. When me and the other volunteer bought each of the street kids a new outfit, they were so happy and had so much respect for their new clothes, folding them neatly and with great care.

What is a typical day at the project? 

Up at 8am for breakfast made by Bindu at the accommodation. Lovely walk up to the school for 10am. Class started at 10.15am. First period/ grade 1: bingo, colours, days of the weeks. Second period/grade 4: Bingo, shapes, colour, word searches. 3rd period/nursery: alphabet, colouring in, drawing and saying face parts. Period 4/grade 3: Bingo, colours, days, a story. I would then leave at lunch and walk back to my accommodation or to lakeside to eat and then check and answer my work emails. At 4pm i would visit the streets kids. I helped with homework, read stories, made craft, played sport, played with bubbles/balloons. Anything they needed help with or had fun. I left at about 5.30/6pm.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Bring lots of stickers for the kids at schools!!! It will make you popular. You always need an idea up your sleeve, something fun that will get kids of all ages interacting with each other

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It's very rewarding, meet great people, great memories, see beautiful places, list is endless....

Why did you choose Pod?
I liked the fact it was non-profit- other sites had nothing about that. It had a Facebook page and I could see other people’s pics. Also I came across the Nepal bog which I thought was great.”

Ben - Sports Coaching, 2012

What is a typical day at the project? Arrive at school around 10 o clock and get a timetable for the day. I would then take out different classes throughout the school day to play football or cricket.

What did you find most rewarding?

The fact of how much the kids enjoyed being out the classroom getting involved in sport

What did you find most challenging?

Managing large classes from the younger years.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?

Have a lot of energy as these kids are extremely energetic on the sports pitch.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?

The kids love a role model who they can look up to. Especially in Sport.

Why did you choose Pod?

Locations available and the helpfulness of staff.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?

Yes.”

Brydie - Teaching, 2012

“Even though I had this volunteering experience organised for about 5 months before I left, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I am a fairly quiet person and had never actually taught a class before. But there was no need to worry about a thing. I was surrounded by like-minded volunteers and also had so much support from Chrissy. Even though I didn't have any really negative experiences, it was nice to have Chrissy always checking up on me and everyone else! The streets were mental and everything was quite dysfunctional, but the Nepali people were so funny and friendly that it was easy to get used to their way of life. Nepal's culture means quite a few strike days and festivals, and on these days there was always something to do or otherwise chill out and do nothing all day at Bindu's!! I loved living at the guesthouse with Bindu, Janice and Julia, who were so hospitable, fun and lovely that I felt completely at home straight away.

What did you find most rewarding?
Even though the teaching placement was a fairly challenging environment (the 5 year olds were the scariest), it was an amazing feeling when I settled in, with the classes actually engaging with my lessons and thinking about how to answer my questions instead of yelling out something crazy ("What do we call a baby cow?" ... "A PUPPY!").

What did you find most challenging?
It was difficult at times to control a class. But the most challenging thing was to acknowledge that this was my fault for being too scared to try a different way of teaching, and realising that the kids want to try something different too!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
When you get to your placement, have a rewards system and your lessons planned out. You are only there for a short time really, so you need to be prepared and get a start on things!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It really is a character building experience which is also very rewarding.

Why did you choose Pod?
The Pod website outlined everything very clearly and professionally, along with some great reviews from past volunteers. This gave me a lot of confidence in Pod, first impressions are important and I think you guys do a great job!

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes”

Jean – Teaching, 2012

“The initial experience on arrival is a huge culture shock, and one which takes some days to accustom to, if at all. It really makes you evaluate what is important in life, from both the material and emotional viewpoint. The Nepalese people are so welcoming and friendly, and the fact that you actually stay in a family environment is a huge support. Plus the support given from Chrissy is invaluable, and, from the other volunteers. Be honest to admit your own feelings of vulnerability, and the need for verbal and emotional support. Whatever you are able to give to the project you are assigned to, you will be repaid tenfold, in affection and life experience. Don't think 'should I?', think, 'I will'. No regrets.

After a brain rattling trip on the local bus, the arrival at school is always greeted with smiles and cries of 'Hello'. Be prepared for changes in timetable, due to staff or child absence. Always have a 'magic bag' which contains items to introduce the planned activity, and replacements if the idea just doesn't work, due to lack of understanding and communication. Any small degree of understanding is a major achievement, don't aim too high, the bar can always be moved, in a positive direction.

What did you find most rewarding?
The warmth of the children, their response to your input, their sheer delight at new activities.

What did you find most challenging?
The culture shock, the heat, the food, but all could be overcome.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Go into this with an open mind, don't think you are going to become a crusader, and change the world. Any small input that you can make is worthwhile, and the memories are invaluable.”

Harriet - Teaching, 2012

“This is now the second placement I have been on with Pod. I cannot believe the amount of support that you get, from both the POD office UK and Chrissy whilst out in Nepal. I felt completely at home on the placement and knew if I had any problems I had a support network who would help me out. The kids were incredible as always and make my trip unforgettable. I adored working at Bhalam primary school during the week, it was a challenge but that is exactly what I wanted. I love the fact we were encouraged to get involved with as much as possible whilst in Nepal, the weeks flew by as I was having so much fun. From Nepali lessons to taking the street children to the fair, my time was used to the fullest. I really would recommend POD to everyone and anyone. Incredible organisation! Chrissy is an absolute credit to you guys at Pod she is brilliant to talk to and truly understands what volunteers want from their placements.

What is a typical day at the project?
A typical day would involve a 2 hour journey to Bhalam village. Other volunteers asked why I would travel that far every day but the beauty of Bhalam made my choice of placement pretty easy. Would teach English in the morning, to classes 1, 2 and 4. My lunchtime would be spent gossiping with the teachers over tea and popcorn. Afternoons were usually extra curricular lessons such as teaching the children about health or general lessons. I loved teaching the children (and teachers) about my culture and where I come from.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Get to experience another way of life which is completely different to your own. Meet brilliant children who are incredibly inspiring and make every day I spent in Nepal worthwhile.

Why did you choose Pod?
Because you delivered everything you said you would when I volunteered the first time in 2010. I really trust the charities you are involved with and feel you really care about the people in which we are working with. Can't wait to book my next trip with you!”

Rachel - Child Care, 2012

“What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
DO IT! It was scary at first but we were all so well supported that we knew any problems could be resolved

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It’s a great opportunity to experience a different culture while hopefully making a positive impact.

My time in Nepal was an amazing experience. I hadn't planned to do teaching and definitely got thrown in at the deep end with some rowdy classes but that's the best way to stretch yourself! I loved working at my school, it was busy, loud and overflowing with excitable children. I also enjoyed that my placement was close to the street kids centre as getting to know the children there was particularly enjoyable - some of the coolest/toughest kids that there are! General sightseeing around Pokhara also really contributed to the all-round great experience. The atmosphere in our guest house and amongst the volunteers was overwhelmingly good and I would definitely recommend Nepal as the place to be!

What is a typical day at the project?

A typical day at school starts at 10 with the 'wake and shake' followed by lessons which you have a lot of freedom with. After school at around 3, depending on which placement you’re at you can head over to the street children's centre to help them with homework and then play some games. (We loved colouring)

I found overcoming the challenges in the classroom to be most rewarding but also the extra activities we did with the street children like taking them swimming or to the park.”

Gemma – Teaching, 2012

“What did you find most rewarding?

Knowing that I made a difference to the children and even more so, the staff that worked at the placements were very appreciative of the help we were giving them.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?

Be prepared for culture shock, and be open minded. The teaching strategies are very different to England!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?

It opens your mind to different ways of life. They need the support out there and any help is greatly appreciated. It will also make you realise just how lucky we are to have the things we do.

Annapurna Primary school was a difficult placement, due to it being a small school, so it was tough to get support for teaching. The school is quite poor, with no resources, so a good idea to bring resources and a bank of ideas for lessons along. The staff are lovely and the children are keen to learn. The street kids centre was my favourite placement which I went to after school everyday. Lovely children and really good fun. Spent lots of time with them and was able to take them swimming in the lake on days off, so plenty of opportunity to give the children a fun day. The children there spoke good English, and so the communication was easy. Helping with homework after school was the main priority. This is a very rewarding project, relaxed and fun.”

George – Teaching, 2012

“This was the first time I have done any volunteering or 'proper' travelling abroad and I couldn't have wished for a better experience. The Pod staff, both in the UK and in Nepal, were excellent. Willing to give advice on everything from travel aspects, to putting me in a specific placement, to finding a great local meal. I went with the expectation of some disruption to schedules and I wasn't disappointed. With a national holiday every week and the occasional strike I was able to explore and do all the touristy things as well as get to grips with the placement work. If you are teaching I cannot emphasise enough the need to have a lesson or three up your sleeve ready to bring out at a moment's notice, as many volunteers found that they were put on the spot on their first day. This is a truly wonderful placement, in a wonderful country full of friendly people.

How would you describe a typical day at the project?

Up at around half 7 for breakfast and out the door at half 8 to catch a local bus to Bagar. A wonderful way to wake up, between the crazy drivers and bangra music you are always awake by the time you arrive at school. School is supposed to start at 10am, but be prepared for lesson times to be varied as the school day isn't as structured as the UK. Lunch, Dahl Baht (of course). A return bus ride as exhilarating as the morning one to return to lakeside. Then, if you return early enough, it is great to head over to the street kids centre, help them with their homework and play a few games before heading somewhere for dinner. Come back and do some prep work for the next day. Sleep is definitely needed around 10pm on a school night.

What did you find most rewarding?

Teaching street kids to swim, as water-trouble/drowning is a far too often occurrence in Nepal

What did you find most challenging?
Language barrier in school, although a few command words (e.g. sit, be quiet) solved this.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
A great opportunity to immerse yourself in a culture, that you would otherwise not experience. Builds teaching skills, especially the ability to breakdown the English language, especially useful for early years/foundation stage teachers.

Why did you choose Pod?
Most reputable, reliable and supportive non-profit charity found through my research.”

Roland - Teaching, 2012

“What did you find most rewarding?
The extra workshops at Shree Krishna school, especially Salsa, were fantastic and my teaching highlight. These were activities where demand was high, even though the students stayed voluntarily after school. That's the best way to see that they actually like what you're doing! In general, it's very rewarding to see the students going full throttle in what you planned for them, no matter if it's singing or a group work to present to the class how to build a kite. The higher grades students sometimes came to me after the lesson and said a simple "Thank you" or "This lesson was very interesting". Made my day. Knowing that my work is appreciated not only admittedly flattered my ego, but also helped me to relax, as I tend to be quite critical about my work. The good connection with the other volunteers was good fun and an important part of the experience as well! Go go, rafting team!

Why did you choose Pod?
Good presentation, thorough preparation, reliable and fast support. Realistic expectation management instead of advertising the positive sides only. A general impression of doing the right things and doing things right. I booked both my Tanzania and Nepal trip at the same time because I trusted in the whole package, and I wasn't disappointed.

Rowdy classes, same-day notices about strikes, monsoon rain five days the week, power cuts JUST when you needed to print that crucial piece of lesson content before school ... Nepal comes with plenty of ideas to turn you into a more flexible person. After all, nobody else around you is irritated, so go with the local way or find your own. Satisfaction follows when the same noisy classes enthusiastically participate in your new songs, when you fill that strike day with a trip to the World Peace Stupa, when you realize how much fun exactly an automatic umbrella can be for your beloved street kids and when you improvise that lesson with some vocabulary Bingo, much to the delight of the students. Pokhara itself offers enough urban background to cater for all your needs and Bindu's guesthouse is an accommodation to stay in comfortably. It's the placement that gets you attached, challenges and moves you. "Best teacher!" shouts from a student, concerned faces because grade 9 can't participate in your Salsa course due to exams overlap, laughter and puzzled looks as you do the "Wind the bobbin up" and twist your arms. These are memories, which you won't forget. The other volunteers were super-friendly and good company. It was also exciting to see how they coped with their challenges, especially when you can see them grow or you overcome an obstacle together. You learn (about) yourself in the process, too. In general, you can learn quite a lot, especially when staying longer. I can't actually say if I had more impact on the life of the students or if they had more impact on mine! Aside from the remarkable experiences during your volunteering time, don't forget to take some time off for pleasure. Nepal is a beautiful place and you'll WANT to go rafting. Or canyoning. Or exploring bat caves. Or bungee jumping. Or hiking. Or visiting beautiful villages with impressive mountain scenery. Or all of it, and more!

What did you find most rewarding?
The extra workshops at Shree Krishna, especially Salsa, were fantastic and my teaching highlight. These were activities where demand was high, even though the students stayed voluntarily after school. That's the best way to see that they actually like what you're doing! In general, it's very rewarding to see the students going full throttle in what you planned for them, no matter if it's singing or a group work to present to the class how to build a kite. The higher grades students sometimes came to me after the lesson and said a simple "Thank you" or "This lesson was very interesting". Made my day. Knowing that my work is appreciated not only admittedly flattered my ego, but also helped me to relax, as I tend to be quite critical about my work. The good connection with the other volunteers was good fun and an important part of the experience as well! Go go, rafting team!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
You'll be most satisfied if you can make a lot of impact and will be remembered well. Four concrete tips: 1) Sing a lot! Grades 1-6 (didn't teach the others) love songs, especially those with physical activities combined. 2) Offer extra activities! Good lessons are what the school needs, but fun side events are what the students want! Dance classes are highly in demand. Generally, offer something they don't use to have access to! They don't have art classes in school, no music class either. Just giving them paper can excite them. Feed their curiosity and relay your skills to them. Can you play an instrument? Consider bringing it, e.g. twice a week for a singing group. I did a computer course, which will be continued by the teachers. 3) Be an inspiration! Easier said than done? It can work on many levels. Personally, e.g. be someone the students and teachers can look up to and respect. Be on time. Show the teachers how much more fun exploring your fantasy island with your students is than just drilling the text book all the time. They are open for ideas, especially in the higher grades. Bingo with new vocabulary was always good fun. 4) This isn't a hint really, as it comes automatically: A smaller aspect, where your presence makes a difference, is pronunciation. The better teachers of the school are quite dedicated, but even they can't teach 'proper' English to the students. Some have strong accents to the point that you have to guess every second sentence. Pay attention to repeated mistakes by the students to improve understanding. In general, keep in mind that things go differently than you are used to. Students shout their answers instead of raising hands, some of the younger ones sleep in school or go into brawls in the middle of class, often organization is lacking and your carefully planned routine can be turned upside down by the cultural dynamics. Just one example: In Salsa class, boys wouldn't dance with girls.”

Jessica - Child Care, 2012

"Thank you again, and everyone at Pod, for all your help and for the most amazing experience.

I started my project at 10 o'clock each day at the Street Kids Centre. During the mornings I ran lessons such as Math, English and spelling, setting work for the children who were all at different standards. At 1 o'clock I'd go and meet another volunteer for lunch and prepare for the afternoon. We both went back to the Street Children in the afternoon where we would have lots of fun doing crafts, face painting, balloon modelling, bubbles, clay modelling, teaching new songs and games, playing lots of football and UNO. At night we tended to eat out most of the time as it was very cheap and good value for money. What I found most rewarding was when the children improved at their work and became more confident. There was one boy who hadn't yet started school and gradually he started to do work like the other children.

Everyone at Pod was very helpful both before the placement and all the help Philippa gave during my time in Nepal.

I would just like to say a big thank you for all your help. It was great to have someone to give me lots of advice and prepare me for my time in Nepal. I have had the best three weeks, and it feels very strange to be home now. Pod really is a great charity and will be sure to tell others about you. I loved it so much I'm already trying to plan my next trip, so hopefully will be booking with you again soon."

Nishma - Teaching, 2011

"I loved that the children were welcoming and wanted you in their class, no matter what placement I was on the children would make so much effort to speak with you and they loved it when you spent time playing games, singing, dancing or whatever it is you can do. To see them smile and be happy that you are there with them was the best feeling!

I think people should volunteer abroad as it’s the most rewarding and unforgettable experience ever, it’s the best way to travel a country and live there too. You get to become a part of the community and locals, and meet people you wouldn't normally meet. It’s about living out of your comfort zone and putting yourself up to the challenge.

Whilst I was in Nepal I volunteered at Shree Krishna School for two months. Initially I found it was hard to settle in because of the lack of structure the school has, teachers tended to disappear and the Headmaster was hardly around! However I gave it time and remained positive about the placement, soon enough I really started enjoying it. The teachers are lovely once you get to know them even though it is hard to converse with them, the children make you feel welcome and at home. I gave it my all and did what I could to help the different classes. Eventually I started teaching my own classes that proved be an experience in itself, one to remember! All in all volunteering at Shree Krishna was definitely challenging but that is what made my experience unforgettable.

Alongside this I volunteered at the Street Children’s Centre and Asha Foundation Orphanage weekly. This was really fun as I got to bring out my creativity and enthusiasm working with the children. They are sensible smart kids and really enjoyed my time with them. Lastly towards the end of my two months I began teaching Bollywood dance to the Bahini SOS girls. The girls brought so much energy and enthusiasm that at times I could not keep up but they loved it and I enjoyed every minute teaching and dancing with them. They are all so talented, as a group and individually, I felt truly privileged to teach them.

Overall it has been a valuable experience, all the other volunteers were great, and living at Bindu’s was awesome it really felt like being at home! Philippa is great and want to thank her for her support during my time on the placement – I will definitely be volunteering with Pod again in the future. If I was to give advice to others I would say just give it time and try your best. If teachers leave you behind follow them to find out what’s going on, do not shy away! Be confident and enjoy it!!

Why did you choose Pod?
It was really good value for money and the fact that it was a non-profit organisation."

Liz - Teaching, 2011

"I really enjoyed my time in Nepal and particularly enjoyed volunteering with Pod. I found it was the perfect balance for me in terms of level of support and independent travel experience. It was great to be with a family but have the flexibility to spend time away from the home. It was extremely refreshing to be able to focus on teaching children away from the UK education system. The children and staff at the school were so responsive and enthusiastic. I loved it and would highly recommend it.

At my school we arrived at 10am following an interesting and varied bus journey from Lakeside. The children take part in a morning drill and then lessons begin around 10.15am. (All timings are quite flexible in Nepal!) We taught 4 different classes English and had taught all of the children in the school by 1.30pm. We then headed back on the bus. There was then time to get involved in some of the other projects and prepare lessons and resources for the following day.

Why do you think others should volunteer overseas?

Others should volunteer overseas because you gain perspective, meet some fantastic people and get to see amazing places. It's a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the culture."

Abby - Teaching, 2011

"I was lucky to be one of the first volunteers to go to Shree Divya Jyoti school. The whole placement was very rewarding. It's a lovely school. The children were keen to learn and embraced the new resources and teaching methods enthusiastically. It was great to see their reaction to the reading books we took to the school.

Don't be put off by the journey (it takes at least an hour to get there from Pokhara) because it's a very enjoyable and rewarding placement. The children are great and the English teacher is keen to work with and learn from volunteers who are teachers. I wish I could have spent more time there and would happily go back.

The bus journeys are never dull and actually quite a good way to see more of Pokhara, but it's good if there are 2 volunteers at the project together so you have a travel companion. It's a very small school (between 3 and 7 pupils per class) and lessons last around 45 minutes (in theory) so by lunchtime it's possible to have taught 4 classes and to have spent some time with the nursery children. Dev Laxmi, the English teacher, is very friendly and keen to learn new teaching methods from volunteers. As we were the first volunteers at this school she sat in on our lessons and took notes. The other teachers don't seem to speak much English but they are welcoming and friendly. The level of English comprehension amongst the children is quite low but they are keen and generally well behaved and with such small classes they are easy to manage. After school we spent time planning lessons and making resources for the next day.

I'd add that it's good to move away from the English text book that the school uses (which they seemed happy for me to do) and to focus on developing the children's skills (listening and speaking as well as reading and writing) by using other resources. The children responded really well when we did this. Also, if you want to get the most out of your placement check out the dates of the many holidays and festivals when the school is likely to be closed and be prepared to teach on Sundays so you can get the most out of your time. Be realistic about how much (or little) you can achieve if you are volunteering for a short period of time.

I chose Pod because unlike many of the other volunteering organisations I looked into, you are a not for profit company and I was looking for an organisation which took a responsible approach to volunteering in poor and developing countries. After reading up on your website and talking to Gemma I just had a good feeling about Pod. I would recommend Pod to others.

Just to mention that both Gemma in the UK and Philippa in Pokhara were great in terms of giving support and information. Thanks!"

Marilyn - Teaching, 2011

“Nepal is a very scenic and diverse country and the Nepalese are very friendly and welcoming. I always felt safe within the country and the people are genuinely interested in you and where you come from and pleased that you are coming to volunteer. They are generous of spirit and very happy people despite their obvious poverty. The children are well behaved, if noisy, as they are used to learning by rote and actively encouraged to shout out the answers. (A little different from the UK and the concept of putting your hand up or being asked to answer individually is very foreign to them!) I felt well supported by POD and by especially by Philippa and I have made some good friends among the other volunteers. The mix of ages and experience was a positive advantage (this was the one thing I was worried about, being an older volunteer - I needn't have worried!) and Bindu's was lovely (Western style loo's were not mentioned in the booklet, but are also an advantage!) There is loads to do in Pokhara and I had a wonderful time. I would like to think that I have helped the children in some way, but I suspect that the experience has changed me more than them!

How would you describe a typical day at the project?

I was teaching Grades 6, 7 and 8 (there is a mix of ages in a class so ages 11 to 17). In the morning I helped the English teacher, reading the stories in English so that the children could get the right pronunciation. Their written and reading abilities are quite good, but verbally they have problems, because that is not assessed at the end of the year. I then taught Science in the afternoon, team teaching with the Science teacher. I felt my role there was to introduce different ways of teaching, as there is no practical equipment and Science was just taught from the book. Some days after school we would visit Asha or Street Kids in order to do Crafts with them.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?

I think volunteering abroad gives you an understanding of the people country and problems faced which cannot easily be put on paper. I also feel that your job as a volunteer doesn't end when you finish the placement - In a way that is just the start! Be prepared to be flexible and enjoy it!”

Reta - Child Care, 2011

“I am 58 years old and have worked or looked after my children from the age of 15 but have recently retired. I was looking for something fulfilling and challenging to do. I was keen to work with young children in a caring capacity. I don't have any formal childcare training but have worked in a voluntary position in Canada with children of abused mothers. Nepal is a place that sounded interesting to me so I applied at fairly short notice and was accepted. From the first contact with POD through to booking, traveling and arriving in Nepal everything went very smoothly. Philippa, POD co-ordinator in Nepal, was there to greet me from the bus in Pokhara and to settle me into my accommodation with a welcome dinner to meet other volunteers. I enjoyed my assignment working in Ward 6 very much. The lack of hygiene is an initial shock. There seems to be no understanding of cross contamination from toilet to kitchen to mouth. The children are not in clean clothing and they pee anywhere and quite often don't wear underwear. All this said, they are an absolute joy to be with! The teacher and carers are amazing and three of them plus a volunteer handle a mixed age group of children quite often up to 36 children at a time who seem to arrive at odd times through the school day. You realise how much work volunteers do in Nepal and without them the people would be much worse off.  Be prepared for a lack of continuity, preparation, sometimes haphazard tuition. Also be prepared to have the best fun and fulfilling experience ever.

How would you decribe a typical day at the project?

Most days start at 10am and the children are in the playground until about 1045. In for maybe a singsong in English and Nepalise popular rhymes. ABC's, counting and reading. Lunch is served to all the kids. They sit on the floor at long benches. Some of the children can't eat on their own so volunteers jump in to help here, you may need to feed two or three at a time. The lunch is served piping hot in tin bowls which are very hot to touch and it takes a while to cool down so be prepared for some burning their mouths and taking much longer to eat than others. Each child when they have finished their meal will take their bowl to the sink which is on the floor ready to be washed up. I helped to stack these and rinsed them off and wash the childrens hands again and wiped the dhall off their faces and clothes. The children then return to the main room to sleep on mats on the floor. They sleep for about an hour until 2 pm when they are collected by family, friends or volunteers. Most of the children sleep half naked so don't be surprised at this.

Getting to know the children and gaining their trust enough to have fun with them with most rewarding. It is lovely to walk into the school playground in the morning to have them run to you to say hi.

You have so much to offer, they need to learn English to increase their job opportunities, you only need a few word in Nepalise to get by. They can learn basic hygiene from you by watching what you do, e.g. washing your hands before eating and involving them in this procedure. Pokhara is a great place to be, lots to see and do. The food is amazing, I never had one bad meal in a month. The wine is usually dodgy so don't waste your money! The beer is served in huge bottles enough for two or three people from one bottle and very good. Try the fresh lemon tea or fresh ginger, excellent. Lots of lovely shopping opportunities and very reasonably priced.

Why did you choose Pod?

I chose Pod because the web site information was so clear. The staff are extremely helpful in the UK office and on site in Pokhara. I would recommend Pod to others.”

Brogan - Child Care, 2011

"My time in Nepal was amazing. The country is so beautiful and the locals are the friendliest people I've ever met. Philippa and Phil were so helpful and did everything they could to make you feel welcomed and at home. If you had any problems or issues they would always be there to help you out and the weekly meetings held by Philippa meant you could address any problems you had about settling in or with your placement and the whole team of volunteers would be there to help you.

I volunteered at Ward 6 and the staff there were so friendly. If you felt you could, they would give you complete freedom to teach or play with the children and introduce any new ideas you had. If, however, you preferred to integrate into their daily routine, they would include you in that and make you feel at home. I couldn't have asked for a better experience, the children are fantastic, completely enthusiastic and welcoming of new faces. The best thing about volunteering was the flexibility to visit other schools or orphanages as well as your regular placement. That way, I felt I had a more varied experience of life for the children in Nepal and got to spend more time with these amazing children. The whole volunteering team got together at least twice a week to visit a particular project which I thought was great fun! I really did have the most amazing experience in Nepal and met the most inspirational people, I couldn't have asked for a better experience and I would definitely recommend going with POD, they were there every step of the way to make sure all the volunteers felt comfortable and safe and made sure you were making the most of your time.

Volunteering gave me the opportunity to travel on my own and meet new people in a way I never have before. Volunteering really forces you to be confident and to have lots of fun and gives you a glimpse into a completely different lifestyle. The country is beautiful and the people you meet there will be friends forever.

I would definitely recommend Pod to future volunteers. We met so many people in Nepal who went out with other charities to just be dumped and forgotten about. The Pod team were there to help me out all the time and if I had any issues they would sort them out straight away. I choose POD because their projects seemed really worthwhile and I'm so glad I did.

Thank you to everyone who made my time in Nepal so special, I would definitely go again and hope to soon!"

Cian - Child Care, 2011

"Pod are a no nonsense volunteer organisation looking to change lives, a lot of volunteer organisations out there are poorly regulated and spread out over hundreds of placements just to try and attract more people. Pod has a lot less placements but consequently is able to regulate them all excellently and put a lot more effort into each one.

I had an unforgettable time in Lakeside, Pokhara. The accommodation was spacious and comfortable, the family who run the hotel are all really lovely and friendly. Local support is excellent with Philippa and Phil both very easy to get hold of and both very nice, helpful people. The choice of placements is good and I very much enjoyed my time teaching the children at the centre for street children. Lakeside is awesome, the people are all friendly and there are loads of shops and restaurants to pass the time when you aren't on placement. The local extreme sports are all great fun and excellent value if you have the time/money, I went paragliding once and rafting twice. All three were incredible experiences.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?

Forget your inhibitions and just dive in! I was nervous about engaging in my role as teacher and figure of authority for a couple of days and I didn't really connect with the children until I did.

What did you find most rewarding?

The part I found most rewarding was watching as the children progressed and being a part of it. One child was struggling with basic multiplication for a week until my final day when we cracked it, it was mint!"

Prayagha - Teaching, 2011

“I volunteered in Nepal for three weeks, teaching at a primary school. It really was an amazing few weeks. The children are really appreciative and adorable. Nepal is a beautiful country, full of culture and filled with things to do. The placement was a life changing experience and I would recommend it to anyone looking to do a volunteer placement. Pod is an excellent organisation and the coordinators in Nepal take very good care of you and are always in touch with you while you are there.

What is a typical day at the project?

I woke up around 8.30am and made my way to school at half nine. I would teach up until one and then meet the other volunteers for lunch. We'd then usually go shopping/sight seeing/relax in the hotel or go over to the street kids centre to play with them or help them out with their work. we'd then go out again for dinner as the food in Nepal is great and also very cheap.

By the end of my stay I'd managed to teach the kids how to do four digit subtraction with borrowing. I felt so proud and it was such a rewarding task.

When I first started the language barrier was difficult but after learning a few phrases and having other volunteers helping it made things a bit easier.

I would recommend anyone thinking about it to definitely give it a go. If you're going to do this placement make sure you love being around children.

I would definitely recommend Pod, they are well worth your money and are a very trusted organisation.”

Rebecca - 2011

“For me one of the great benefits on the Nepal placement was the variety that it offered. On my arrival there were six different projects that Pod had ties with and that required volunteers, this meant that I could choose those that suited my skills best and then devise a weekly schedule of visits. Due to this variety I was able to meet people of all ages, religions and backgrounds and was never for a second bored! Furthermore the support provided once I arrived was fantastic, the accommodation was a mixture between a hotel and a home-stay and Bindu’s family were so incredibly welcoming (and make the best Daal Bhat). Aside from the family, Pod also provide a Volunteer Coordinator, Philippa, and a Placement Coordinator, Phil, and between the two of them your every question/need/problem can be resolved!

I particularly think that value for money was excellent, so many organisations I looked at were charging almost double what I paid at Pod (and many were companies rather than non-profit organisations) so it was great to know that you can choose the less expensive, ethical option and still have excellent service and a great experience. Also I think the accommodation in Pokhara should be highlighted as a definate pro, the Dahal family were so welcoming and it was nice to have the mixture between a hotel and a home-stay.

How would you descibe a typical day at the project?

My day varied throughout the week as I visited a different combination of placements each day however an average day would go thus... After having a lovely breakfast at Bindu’s I would head to the Child Care Centre for just before 10am (just a 5 minute walk from Bindu’s) on arrival we would play outside for the first hour with the children and then slowly start going (“bitra!”) inside. Indoors we would then do a mixture of songs (both English and Nepali) and games until it was time for lunch at about 1pm. After the children had gone to sleep I would head to Lakeside to catch a quick bite for lunch before walking up to visit the houses of Anju and Esther who are part of SCIAN (Spinal-cord Injury Association Nepal). I would spend about one to two hours with Anju and Esther, doing games and small language tasks and usually drinking a lot of tea! In the evenings I would usually eat with Bindu’s family though there were also plenty of lovely places in Lakeside.

I found visiting Anju and Esther most rewarding of all, it was such a nice contrast to go from 3year old children to meeting adults in their own homes and in a very non-tourist community. I found this part was most rewarding but equally the most challenging. The SCIAN home visits do put you out of your comfort zone slightly as you are in their home and with very little guidance from anyone else to follow. However in this situation I found it really rewarding to build up a relationship with them and spend time just doing small activities. The key was to not stress over the language and culture barriers and just go with the flow and as I learnt, learn when to say that you are going home or else you will never leave!

I would recommend that volunteers prepare, prepare, prepare! When you arrive you'll have a mental blank at activities to do (well I did anyway!) so make a note of songs, games, craft ideas anything you could do.

Everyone should volunteer abroad at least once, if for anything to gain a more accurate view of a culture and a society that you could never do as a tourist visiting for a few weeks. More than anything though to test yourself, I think its vital that people push themselves from their comfort zones and what better way than to volunteer.

I chose Pod because I wanted an organisation that had an ethical outlook whilst providing good support and experiences for their volunteers. I found that they did live up to those expectations and I am glad I chose them over other, more expensive, companies and I would definitely recommend them. I particularly felt it important that the projects they work with are not directly controlled by Pod but are instead locally founded projects which instead just gain Pod support. This gives Pod the unique balance of being a western organisation with transparency and responsibilities to its volunteers (which aids trust) whilst being, on the ground, locally driven.”

Tara - Teaching, 2011

"I had a really, truly, wonderful time. The POD team was supportive throughout and I never felt scared or alone, Phil and Philippa in Nepal were amazing. Pokhara is a beautiful place and working with the kids was extremely rewarding. I chose Pod because they are a non profit organisation. I would definitely recommend Pod to others!

I was greeted by many warm smiles at the school, we would usually begin with some maths with a quick break before moving on to English, splitting the class between the volunteers in terms of level. The kids were always happy to see us although occasionally not so happy to see their textbooks. Lessons would end with some educational games. Sometimes the kids would end up teaching us things on their breaks- such as that time I was taught the dance to Resham Phiriri! Seeing the pupils really happy about being able to do a certain sum or learn a new word was the best!

I would recommend other volunteers to pack light! Eat lots of momos and don't be afraid to practice your Nepali with people- most of them appreciate the effort!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?

Aside from doing good for a community, you learn a lot about yourself. Perhaps the greatest thing I learned is that just going for it and not doubting myself so much does really pay off. I don't think I came out of my placement a stronger person, or anything like that. I came out of it having realised how strong I could be and that I was capable of doing things by myself.

My time in Nepal has really changed the way I see myself and I think that volunteering abroad is a positive experience for everyone in terms of learning about themselves."

Alice - Child Care, 2011

"I really enjoyed my time in Nepal and am so glad that I did it through POD as they were extremely helpful and supportive the whole way. Nepal is such a beautiful and relaxed country and it was a pleasure to be able to volunteer there. I loved visiting the Street Children's Centre every morning to teach them whilst they were on their summer holidays and was amazed by their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn, especially in their free time! I would definitely recommend Pokhara and POD to anyone considering volunteering.

I found all aspects of POD in Nepal very helpful, especially the help and support from Philippa whilst there.

How would you describe a typcial day at the project?

Monday to Thursday mornings I would go out for breakfast with the other volunteers (usually for pancakes!) then walk up to the Street Children's Centre for 10 am. During my time in Nepal the Children were on their summer holidays so I would spend the morning teaching the children different subjects, usually a mixture or English, Maths and Science so that those behind in their classes could catch up before the next term of school started. I would also involve fun activities such as games or colouring to keep them entertained!

It was rewarding being able to teach the children one on one as they are unable to get this help in their big classrooms. This allowed me to teach the children a different method of approaching a difficult subject that allowed them to understand the problem better.

Why do you think others should volunteer overseas?

I would definitely encourage anyone to do this placement. It is so worthwhile and fulfilling! Seeing other volunteers starting at different times and entering different groups I would advice future volunteers to just give it their all and say yes to every opportunity whilst in Nepal!

I choose Pod because they gave reasonable prices and provided a lot of information about the project and were very helpful in helping me decide whether volunteering was suitable for me. I would recommend Pod to anyone considering volunteering."

Caroline - Teaching, 2011

"I taught at Shree Krishna, a middle school in Nepal. The children there were fabulous, and clearly enjoyed having a volunteer at their school. The teachers I worked alongside were friendly and helpful. I also volunteered two evenings per week at the street Childrens' centre. That was really good fun - definitely make this a part of your volunteer teaching experience if you can. It's only 10 minutes up the road from where you'll be staying. The kids really enjoy your visits, and look forward to the next one. Taking along a game of some sort is a good idea, as they'll enjoy playing with you. It can be as simple as a skipping rope!

The accommodation was really comfortable. Having my own room and bathroom was a luxury! Bindu and her family are lovely, and it was both good value for money, and culturally, to eat dinner with them most evenings. Although the food in Pokhara itself is cheap, you sometimes can't beat a home cooked meal! With regards to taking resources with you, you can probably get most of what you need in the city centre. There's no need to bring paper, etc. Perhaps some stickers would be good, but I think you can get these in Pokhara, too! Just be prepared to get stuck in and enjoy your time in Nepal and volunteering. I managed to fit a few other things in while I was there. I did paragliding (great fun!), a five day trek, and factored in time at the end of my trip to really explore Kathmandu. There is always something to see at the weekends around Pokhara, if you enjoy looking at caves, temples, etc. Otherwise, chill out with a coffee by the lake! All in all, a great experience. Plus you get to see the Himalayas! They never failed to take my breath away on my walk to school when the clouds had cleared. Stunning!

It's cliché, I know, but there's no way you can experience a country culturally unless you really spend a good amount of time in one place. Working somewhere too allows you to get to know local people, visit them in their homes and really get an idea about what a place is like. It's a step up from just a holiday, that's for sure.

I chose Pod because there is more a feeling of independence. I didn't want to stay in a family, and staying at a hotel was ideal. There was a family there to interact with, but also a sense of independence, and as I'm a bit older than the average gap year person, this is what won me over. The price was also reasonable compared to other voluntary organisations."

Kerra - Teaching, 2011

"My time in Nepal was amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Nepal is a beautiful country with friendly people and lots of things to do. Pokhara is a great place to stay, there is lots to do during your free time and the lake and mountains are beautiful. Bindu and her family are welcoming and the accommodation is very comfortable. There are lots of resources and ideas for lessons etc in the volunteer common area and it is worthwhile to take time to look through what is there and use them in school. I volunteered at Annapurna primary school and at SCIAN where I taught English to two girls with spinal injuries. I really enjoyed my time in both placements and it was a great opportunity to get to know the local community and learn some Nepali! There were challenges in both placements but every day was rewarding and there was never a day when the children didn't make me laugh or smile. For the teaching placement it is useful to have had some experience teaching or at least being in a classroom as I was expected to lead most English lessons with limited input from the teachers. The children are all enthusiastic and love meeting new people.

The support that I got from Pod was great. Before I went the UK team ensured that I was fully prepared and were always there if I needed any questions answering. In Nepal Philippa is always available to offer advice and support and the induction is very thorough and informative. All in all it was a fantastic experience and I would do it again.

I would recommend Pod and Nepal to anyone who is considering volunteering."

Natasha - Child Care, 2010

"It felt as though I was on a high for every single aspect of the trip; it’s difficult to point out what I enjoyed the most. The school that I worked in, Tender Hearts Infant School, was so much fun. The children were very mischievous but wonderful; after being there for quite a while they warmed to me more and treated me like the other teachers. I really enjoyed teaching them some new nursery rhymes and simple arts and crafts that they had not yet come across before. I really got along with the other Pod volunteers that were living in the same guest house as me. It was good to bond further with them by going on excursions, meals, chilling in the common room etc. I actually went trekking with one of the other volunteers and we had the most challenging yet amazing time; neither of us knew we had so much stamina! Pod were amazing and I honestly believe that my experience would not have been so good if it were not for them. They are a really supportive organisation and they made me feel extremely safe and secure despite my unfamiliar surroundings. They made sure that I was well integrated into the existing group of volunteers that was already in Nepal and were free to help and advise me on any issues.

I cannot think of anything bad to say; the service from Pod was faultless!

Daily Routine: 7.30 -9.00: Get ready/breakfast and then make sure I catch the bus by 9.00 so that I can make it to school by 10.00. 10.00:-10.30: School assembly (prayers, nursery rhymes, children drink their morning milk) 10.30 – 11.00: Playtime, a good chance to play with the children and have fun with them 11.00 – 1.00: After playtime children are split up into upper kindergarten and lower kindergarten. I normally helped the upper kindergarten children. Class time would involve teaching them the English ABC’S/ numbers or the Nepalese alphabet/ numbers. 1.00-2.00: Children’s lunch time 2.00-3.00: Nap time for the children; it’s quite a task getting them to go to sleep but once they are out they are out. The duration that the children are asleep comprises the teachers lunchtime. This is a good chance to bond with the teachers. I also help them to prepare children’s’ homework and marking their homework. 3.00 – 4.00: Children wake up and drink their milk; then it’s time to teach them some creative skills such as arts and crafts. At 4.00 the children’s parents come and then it is home time for both me and the children. Catch the bus and reach the guesthouse at around 5; get washed and catch up with the other volunteers. 7.00 – onwards: Dinner with the other volunteers and maybe go for an evening drink afterwards!

It is a scary yet amazing experience and anybody who has the chance to do it should do it. Pod are a very supportive organisation making you feel comfortable and at home in an unfamiliar environment. You should make the most of the experience when you are there!! try to do as much as possible......

I would definitely travel with Pod again and would recommend them highly."

 Carl - Child Care, 2010

"The project was an amazing experience which provided the perfect opportunity to change lives and to embrace a new culture. Pod provided great support both in the UK and in Nepal and catered for all of my questions before and during my placement. I always felt i had the support of the people around me which helped to embrace the new culture and the work at street kids project i volunteed at. The children at the placement were so keen to learn and had tremondous respect for all volunteers. The whole placement was everything i expected and more and i am now able to use the new skills i have learned back in the UK.

I would wake up at approx 6:30am and go into Lakeside for breakfast so that i could take in the views of pokhara which are best early in the morning. I would volunteer from 8 until approx 12:30 in which i would then have a few hours to have lunch and to do various activities in Pokhara. I would then return back to street kids at 4pm until approx 6:30pm after this i would then have dinner and chill in one of the many bars in Pokhara in which you could enjoy live music.

The Children were so eager to learn and it was a pleasure to teach them and help them with any struggles they had. The level of poverty takes some getting used to, it was hard knowing that these children aged 4-10 had been kicked onto the streets at such a young age which isn't something we are used to back in the UK.

Everything was perfect with plenty of support, even when i was stuck in Kathmandu for 4 days Pod provided great support from both Gemma and Phillipa who were in touch every day. A big boulder blocked the main highway which meant I couldnt get to Pokhara for 4 days, there wasnt much Pod could do to predict that! However it was Nepal and its best to expect the unexpected!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
To prepare for poverty and a culture very different to at home. Everyone suffers from culture shock, even worse when you return home so be prepared that your time in Nepal wont be like anything you could do back in the UK.

It broadens peoples horizons and allows people to grow in confidence. It provides a perfect opportunity for people to travel, meet new people and to help others who are less fortunate than ourselves in high poverty areas.

I choose Pod because of the level of support and amount of information i received when i was thinking of applying for the placement, i hadnt spent any money but Pod provided me with so much help.

I would recommend Pod to anyone as they are so professional, all the staff are so friendly and answer any questions so fast and Pod provide support before your placement, during your placement and after your placement, and genuienly have an interest in how you do throughout the whole process.

Thank you to everyone at Pod in making this the perfect experience."

Victoria - Teaching, 2010

“I suddenly found that I have a whole summer free and very much liked to fulfil a desire to travel and work with those whose need is greater than mine. I just had the most fantastic time and can't really fault any part of it!

Before going I was quite nervous, but the information I had been given prepared me well for what might be expected. Whilst I was there I felt so well supported by the Pod coordinators who became good friends.

Working in the school was quite tough at first but this type of trip is all about facing situations that can be quite daunting and learning from how well you cope. Now that I'm back people have plenty of questions for me and I can't help but answer each one with a smile on my face as I remember the time I had in Nepal. I miss everyone in Pokhara greatly, and am already thinking about when I can go back..!

We would arrive at school ready for lessons to start at 10am. We would then be responsible for the children (sometimes one class, sometimes doubled up classes, but never more than about 30 children at a time) for the rest of the day, apart from a one hour lunch break where we would have dal bhat at a local restaurant. The children mostly behaved well, were very polite and were happy to complete a range of tasks including reading, writing and drawing. They were a little more shy when speaking aloud! After lunch we would read from some English picture books and this was a great opportunity to practise saying new words. At the end of the day, some children were collected by their parents whereas others would walk home. Sometimes we'd walk home holding hands with a huge number of children!

On the last day when the children thanked us and covered our faces with tikka powder!

Volunteering abroad can at times push you way beyond your comfort zone. Because you are miles away from home and others are relying on you, you have no option but to just go ahead and deal with it! And you will be able to - you'll be amazed at the calm, resourceful and even cheerful person that's inside you, just waiting to burst out!

Pod just happened to come top of the list of websites when I googled 'volunteer abroad' and it looked reputable and trustworthy on the website. Gemma and the rest of the team helped to confirm this with the efficient way that they dealt with my (many) queries! I would have no hesitation in recommending Pod to others. I'll be back next year!”

William - Teaching, 2010

“Working in Nepal was amazing. The country itself was stunning from the minute you can see it from the aeroplane. From there the whole experience is like one I've never had before. The best thing about this placement is that it's not all work work work. In fact even when you're working it doesn't feel like work. The students get something brilliant from it; the chance to speak English, with a better future, and as a volunteer, you get to do something very few people get to do and change many peoples lives and when you realise that, if your anything like me, you take on more projects simultaneously.

A typical day involved getting up for breakfast downstairs in the hotel or on Lakeside. Getting to school for 10am, they perform an assembly. The lessons involve the volunteers help with pronunciation, spelling, grammar etc. after school, the world was your oyster and I decided to visit the street children's organisation just down the road.

I came across POD looking for volunteer placements and found them in the NUS extras booklet.

I would 100% recommend it to anyone considering volunteering.”

Deborah - Teaching, 2010

“This was my first trip abroad alone, and I was pretty terrified (and excited of course). But as soon as I got to Pokhara, where Philippa met me, showed me round and introduced me to the other volunteers, all those fears of being lonely dissipated straight away. I was only in Nepal for three weeks, but I've come away feeling like I really understand the place. Although volunteering was tiring at times, and the humidity saps your strength, I came home feeling refreshed - the relaxed pace of Nepalese life was a real change and just what I needed. The experience was a brilliant one - from helping people in real need to making fantastic new friends and immersing yourself in a new culture.

I would wake up at about 7, have some breakfast and then head out to my project at about 10. When working with the street kids while the schools were on holiday, we would take in drawing materials and play with them for a couple of hours before finding some lunch and using the afternoon to wander round lakeside or mahendri pul. When working in Shree Krishna, I would shadow the English teachers Bed and Saru, helping the classes with pronunciation, writing exercises on the board and marking work. I would finish at 3:30ish, then head back to Bindu's to unwind for a while before going into Lakeside to find something to eat with the other volunteers. I was usually in bed by 10.30, but I quite enjoyed the 'early to bed early to rise' lifestyle.

It was recommended to me by a friend who went to Thailand with Pod in 2009. I would certainly recommend Pod myself.”

Zoe - Teaching, 2010

“My time in Pokhara was short and sweet. I loved it; the people, the food and the way of life there, it was nice to feel like a local going to work in the morning and living there, instead of a tourist as I had been previously in Kathmandu. Bindu's hotel was basic but she's extremely welcoming and accommodating and her family are lovely. She's a Christian and this shows in everything she does, a truly good samaritan!

Phil and Philippa were really helpful too, they both took us out and showed us around and I always knew where they were if I needed them. I enjoyed the teaching aspect of the placement very much, the kids are all very eager and happy and it's great to have had the opportunity to spend time with them. I feel very strongly that they deserve a well planned lesson which actually aids learning rather than just something that has been cobbled together 5 minutes before! It's difficult to plan for them before you meet them as they are all at different levels and ages etc, but it became quite apparent that their written work is good and their reading is quite good too overall. Their comprehension however is poor and they need lots of practise speaking and listening to gain confidence in their understanding and ability. If you go to Nepal and haven't taught before it really is a good idea to have a read of a couple of TEFL books maybe....or seek help from someone who has actually taught children, just to get an idea of how to deliver an interesting engaging lesson.

If you work during term time then you will probably be used as a teaching assistant, this is really useful too as I think they like to hear western pronunciation....so you won't really need to lead a lesson. Whatever the case, I think the pupils just love the attention and are happy to have a go at things.

There's no point going to Nepal if you are not prepared to go out of your comfort zone and are not prepared to be flexible in your approach to the whole experience. The people are wonderful the place is incredible and you have to fit in with that if you are to make it worthwhile for yourself and the kids. I would like to spend more time there next time if I can. Thank you to all the staff involved in making my time there happy, I will stay in touch with the school and the orphanage and hope to see everyone again soon.”

Rachel - Child Care and Teaching, 2010 

“Firstly, thank you so much for one of the most amazing experiences of my life so far. I really fell in love with Nepal, and can't wait to go back, so thank you again to POD for making it all possible!

Arriving in Nepal, everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and people were there to meet me at Kathmandu Airport, and then at the bus station in Pokhara. Rekha (our POD mum!) took me on a grand tour of Pokhara, and introduced me to Phil (Pradeep), the Nepali placement coordinator, who is really gracious, kind and patient with any queries and problems you have with the placement. Bindu and her daughters were similarly lovely, and the room I had at theirs was comfortable, clean and generally really homely.

Phil took me round the different placements, and gave me a choice of where I wanted to work - there's a lot of flexibility in what you can do, and combining the different choices. I'd also raised some money before I came to Nepal (if you can do this and send it through Pod, do, it is really worthwhile, and the people appreciate it so much!), so Phil helped me with spending the money properly every step of the way, taking time out of his days to liaise with school staff and workmen.

At school, it was pretty nerve-racking to start with, especially when you are overwhelmed by crowds of excited children wanting to drag you into their classroom. But Bed, who is really experienced and friendly, and willing to socialise outside of school, helped a lot, as did Saru, a younger female teacher. As we taught alongside them, you could do as much as you wanted to whilst building up confidence, and I was soon making flashcards, singing songs, and leading lessons. At school, and at the Street Kids Centre, and Asha Foundation Orphanage, I got really attached to all the children there, and was so sad to leave them.

Although some may doubt the worth of volunteering, I really loved it all, and felt like my presence there was appreciated and utilised.

Pokhara as a place to be is awesome - beautiful and chilled out, with lots of other Western travellers to meet in Lakeside, but it is easy to go into the centre of town and get away from them all! Apart from volunteering, I did so many great things - paragliding, kayaking, white water rafting, sightseeing, swimming at posh hotels, trekking, eating great food, and watching football and socialising in the bars in town. I can't recommend Nepal, or the volunteering with POD highly enough!

The send off that the children gave us at each of the placements nearly moved me to tears each time! At Shree Krishna, each class wrote farewell messages on the blackboards, covered us in red tikka powder, put garlands of flowers on our heads and round our necks, and sang songs and danced for us. The teachers put a farewell lunch on for us, and presented me with a certificate of thanks and a custom-made Kurta Surwal. Seeing the fans I'd paid for with donations I'd raised at home working in the classrooms, was also a great reward. The Street Kids also coated me with tikka powder, and at Asha Foundation they spent all day cooking us amazing Nepali food. Their generosity was really moving.

I chose POD after doing a lot of internet research, as they were really good value, and were so helpful and friendly when I had lots of queries, and took forever to decide on the placement. From the website and the chats I had, the placement seemed really perfect, and I liked the idea of living in a guesthouse, rather than a full blown homestay with a family, as it gave me more independence, and time to recover from a hard day's work. I would definitely recommend Pod to others, as they work so hard to get the best placements for volunteers, and really want to make a difference."

Alex – 2010

“It sounds a little clichéd to say it, but the more you put in, the more you'll get out. I found when I really started enjoying the placement properly was when I got over initial shyness for trying new ideas and just tried new things with the students. They'll appreciate the change of scene, and you'll appreciate the effects.

Because sitting in a Kathmandu cyber cafe overlooking a dust-filled, smog-clogged street at the end of my placement, I can't imagine how I could've grown to be the person I am now WITHOUT volunteering abroad. It really is a fascinating and fantastic experience, and a great opportunity to live and work in a community very different from your own.

The website was a big factor! A professional looking website really ups the credibility of Pod over a lot of its competitors, and being able to talk to personnel on the phone about the placement (and not just personnel, but even Mike himself). I would definitely recommend Pod to others.”

Daniel - 2010

“First of all I just want to say thank you to Mike, Liz, Gemma and of course the Podfather, Robert. Everybody has been super nice and mega helpful. This was my first time travelling by myself and also my first ever trip to Asia so it could have been very easy for me to back out at any point through fear of the whole idea but everybody at Pod managed to make it a very pleasant and welcoming experience.

I’ll be honest by saying that I was very very scared at Heathrow airport waiting for my flight to Bahrain. I think I was still scared right up until the moment I reached Bindus family guest house in Pokhara (Bindu is awesome by the way). The people I met along the way though were really friendly. When we arrived at Pokhara I met up with one of Bindus daughters who were waiting for me. I must say it’s very reassuring to be met by someone who is expecting you along the way. At this point I was taken to Bindus where I had time to sit down and digest all that had happened while I waited for Phil, the main contact in Nepal, to arrive and give me the grand tour of my new home for the month, Pokhara. The tour of Pokhara was an adventure in itself. Phil showed me where all the essentials are. The supermarkets, the cash machines and good places to eat. We stopped every five shops or so to meet someone who Phil knew. He is a very popular guy. We walked to the lake where he showed me how to get up to the Peace Paghoda (a very good day out if you can get time off).

After the tour I went back to Bindus where I met Clare and Alex, two other volunteers. They gave me some tips and ideas on how to teach English and then we went for some dinner.

The next day Phil took me to see the schools I could teach at. Shree Krishna and Shree Pravat. I decided to teach at Shree Pravat despite the mammoth trek up to the school. Teaching at Shree Pravat is the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. The kids are great! Very well behaved and very very eager to learn. Even though Puspha, the English teacher, was really good at his job I think that just hearing a western accent helped the kids a lot. The children were very bright. School days were much of the same for the whole month I was there. Lots of playing/productive learning and hilarious language barrier problems. The best, worst, happiest and saddest day was my last day. The school prepared a leaving ceremony for me which involved music, dancing, playing, and gifts. I also got smothered in red powder and I had to walk back to Bindus looking like either a very angry or very embarrassed westerner. Luckily for me Clare came too and ended up in the same state. It was the best day ever.

Time out of school was also very entertaining. I spent a lot of time with Clare and Alex. Some nights we would just play cards on the roof under the stars during a blackout. We climbed up Sarangkot and stayed at the top for the night. I also spent some time with Phil. He was becoming interested in my favourite subject, health and fitness, so we spent a lot of time talking about that. Phil is a really great guy and although I’m sure Pod pays him generously he really does exceed his pay check with kindness and friendship. He is always happy to help, answer questions and show you around. He also makes good tea. Or should I say his wife does.

Anyway all in all I can honestly say I’ve had the best month of my life so far. I’m already saving up to go on another Pod journey and also to visit the friends I made while in Pokhara.

Thanks again to the Pod team”

Katherine - 2009

“I really can't say enough good things about Pod and the placement I was on in Nepal. Going with Pod was a very last minute decision, but they were so helpful in getting me organised and on my way in no time at all!


I was a bit nervous before I went as this was my first time going away on my own.  But I’m not exaggerating when I say that there was no time during my whole placement that I felt lonely. From the other volunteers, the Pod contacts in the town where I worked and all the kids at the centre I have made some truly great friends and memories to match!

Before I went I really felt Pod had a good knowledge and relationship with the people I would meet and places I would stay and their support and organisation didn’t stop until I got home. 

I had so many questions before I went and Pod were so patient answering all my emails and last minute questions. In addition to this they sent emails while I was on my placement to make sure that I was happy and everything was okay – I always knew that they were just a phone call away if I had any problems!

Bindu’s hotel (which was more like a family home which they opened to Pod volunteers!) was perfect. Clean, spacious, welcoming and if you want a night off the tens of restaurants in Lakeside Bindu is a fantastic cook! Bindu and her daughters were so welcoming to all of us, it was so nice to stay in a family atmosphere – meant I didn’t ever feel homesick!!

First and foremost the Street Kids Centre does the most fantastic work for the kids and the local community; it gives the homeless children of lakeside somewhere safe, clean and caring to stay and I am so glad I got to be part of their work for a month. The children were fun, enthusiastic, kind and affectionate and made my month in Pokhara one of the best experiences. From the first day I was pretty much allowed free reign with what to do with the kids in the day, admittedly this was a little intimidating at first, but it meant that I could take the lead and challenge myself in this new environment. I truly had the most fantastic month and will take the memories of the kids and the lessons I have learnt with me forever.

The support in Lakeside was fantastic. It lived up to my expectations and more. I’ve always wanted to do some volunteering but I never thought I would have the month that I had. I’ve made some fantastic friends, been lucky enough to work with amazing children and visited one of the most welcoming and exciting countries in the world! would recommend to anybody of any age, background and experience!

I would recommend a volunteer placement with Pod to anyone. Value for money, a supportive personal company offering worthwhile placements in some of the most fantastic countries in the world! I want to do some more volunteering next year and I won’t be looking any further than Pod for a placement!!”

Sarah - 2009

“Had such a good time, and you're right about going back...we were all saying how much we want to go back again! Would have to be with the same people though, we all got on really well (with Kate and Katherine) which made it great!  Thanks so much for organising an amazing time for us!

The responses I received to emails were always very quick and helpful, I felt I could email and ask anything; no matter how big or small- thanks Liz!! It was reassuring to know that if I had any queries I could email and be answered usually the same or next day.

Top tips:
1) Go prepared with games and song ideas for a variety of ages of kids, and a few resources.
2) Be prepared to feel a bit out of place when you first arrive- you'll settle in soon enough!
3) be prepared for random days off and strikes...be prepared to relax and get into the Nepali culture and chilled-out way of life!!”

Kate – 2009

“It’s been quite a year and I have had the most amazing time travelling but my first two months in Nepal are still my highlight of my year away by far. I just want to say thank you so much to Pod for everything they did to ensure my time in Nepal was as amazing as it was, I don’t know if you remember but I was the one that got ill and had to go to hospital! I know there was a mix up at the time about my parents not being informed until after I was out, but I just want to make sure that you all know that I and my family were not angry in the slightest, it was a very easy mistake and I really really hope no one felt bad about it!

My main thanks to Pod really comes from when I did get ill when I was away. I have never felt so looked after and safe as I did then. Kelly made sure I was in the best possible hospital (it was more like a hotel!) and sorted out everything with the doctors. Bindu and her family were amazing as well, coming to visit me everyday - sometimes twice. The others girls from the placement were able to stay overnight with me as well and I had a constant stream of visitors so I never felt alone. It was actually quite funny because when I spoke to my sister after I got out of hospital she said she was so worried for me and couldn’t imagine how scared or lonely I would have felt being ill in a different country, but in actual fact, although I was in a foreign country I have never felt more looked after and cared for by all my new Nepal family. Is there any paperwork that you need me to fill out regarding insurance as I am still not completely sure what happened with that? Everything was all a bit chaotic at the time and I think yourself and Kelly took care of all that, which again thank you so much for :)

I still really miss everyone I met out there and myself and the other three girls from my placement Katherine, Amy and Sarah have all kept in constant contact and can’t wait for a reunion. I want to be able to go back to Nepal so much and for the past year my only plan for when I returned to Scotland was to save up again and go out, so I could see all my Nepalese friends and of course the children from the centre. I’m still hoping I might be able to get over there before the end of the year, but money is definitely tight and I’m planning on moving down to London after the new year so I probably should be saving my pennies for that! I think I still have Phil’s email address so I am going to contact him and ask about sponsoring a child at my placement which was The Street Children Protection and Rehabilitation Centre, I assume I do this separately from Pod but if you have any contact numbers for the centre that would be great, but otherwise I think talking to Phil would be my best bet. I never had a chance to fill in my feedback questionnaire or to write about my time in Pokhara for the website but I will send an email within the next week or so giving an overview of my time there - it might be abet over the top and gushing but I honestly did have the best time of my life over there!

Thank you again, and to all the staff at Pod, for everything they did to help with my trip and I will be in touch soon with a story for the website.”

Sarah - 2009

“My time in Nepal was the most amazing and awesome thing I have ever done. I was completely engrossed and absorbed in making the most of my short visit, about five weeks in all. All my expectations were swept away: the school was much less well resourced than I had imagined it would be, so that became a challenge. The non-availability of basic resources too was a shock to me: whilst paper, pens and glue sticks were easy to get hold of, paint, white glue, card and other classroom basics were simply not there. However I enjoyed the challenge of sourcing local materials and set to make some teaching aids and toys to bring some variety and enhance the children's learning. I also engaged a local carpenter to make some blocks, a play house and a storage shelf as well as two tables. I was able to do this as I had raised some sponsorship money in the months before I travelled.

The children at the primary school were absolutely adorable, loving, full of fun, naughty at times and eager to engage with us volunteers. We quickly became very attached to them and it was somewhat heartbreaking when the time came to leave. I realised quite soon on that my talents and skills would be put to best use in teacher training, so I wrote out a couple of sessions on basic child development, learning through play and teaching of English. With the aid of an interpreter we had some successful sessions with much fun and laughter. I kept the sessions as practical as possible and introduced as many play ideas as I could, making use of locally available materials. Seeing the children playing with the dolls, role play equipment and the wooden blocks was priceless.

The Nepali education system is very limited in terms of what it offers the children and they are not used to much creative and imaginative play as part of their curriculum. We sang and danced as much as we could, made collages and pictures, learned letters and numbers, shared stories and rhymes. Their enthusiasm never wavered and even though it was officially school holidays we always had a full quota of children, aged from under one to about 12 years, every day. Any mums that chose to come along were welcomed too, and they clearly enjoyed participating in whatever the children were doing.

As well as the primary school placement, I spent a short time in a very contrasting location up in a remote mountain village. Once again I had to redefine my preconceptions and adapt my view to a very very poor and harsh way of life endured by the people. Once again the children's immense enthusiasm and love for life shone through and I was humbled by their loving smiles and eagerness to talk about their hopes and dreams. They were charming hosts and I was greeted at dawn with an escort to the best spot to watch the sun come up. A priceless experience: the children are like little mountain goats and I was hard put to keep up with them. They asked for nothing and their drawings and pictures came home with me as valuable souvenirs and reminders.

I am sure everyone says this, but I really do hope to go back, soon. GO to Nepal! You will not be disappointed!!”

Catherine - 2008

"I had an amazing time in Nepal and was really sad to leave at the end, can't believe how fast the month went. I was working at Annapurna primary school which was really challenging but a lot of fun.

Unfortunately we had to miss four days of teaching because of the women's festival but John and I went to Chitwan national park for three days instead and had a brilliant time there!

Bindu's was a lovely place to stay, she would always stay up every night to make sure that everyone got back safely! Location was really close to lakeside and staying at Bindus was the perfect balance between a homestay and hotel as they were all really friendly. It was also great having the lounge area upstairs where we could all get together and organise lesson plans. I really liked staying in Lakeside as well and I was able to settle in very quickly. It was especially nice staying in lakeside for the first couple of weeks when there were much fewer tourists around. The monsoon didn’t really cause any problems either apart from making all my clothes wet! The volunteers that I met when I first arrived were brilliant and made it really easy to settle in, making sure we knew where everything was and all the best places to go. It was great to meet such a variety of people as well since the volunteers that arrived whilst I was out there were completely different to those at the beginning! I was very excited that Kam chose to work at Annapurna because he has a lot of teaching experience and seemed to bring a whole new element to the school which I think will make a huge difference to all the children.

Kelly and Phil were both fantastic. They were both always around if we ever needed anything and spent a long time chatting with the new volunteers who were less happy with their placements trying to arrange new placements for them. Phil was also able to book my flight and hotel for the journey home which was really helpful and Kelly was able to book our trip to Chitwan and also a trip to play golf at the Himalayan Gold course! This was all really helpful because there were so many companies advertising these services but they were able to save us the worry of having to decide on a reliable one. Also, all the staff at Paddle Nepal were fantastic and I got lots of free kayak lessons!

Overall, I absolutely loved my time in Nepal and I just want to say thank you for arranging it all and ensuring it was a successful trip! Everything went really smoothly exactly as it described in the booklet!

This placement has taught me to make the most of every opportunity in life and take positives from every situation. It has also re-iterated my love for working with children and has opened my eyes to the generosity of the Nepali people. I found being immersed in the culture fascinating, and thoroughly enjoyed learning new things about the place, people and ultimately about myself. The support I received both in the UK and in Nepal was second to none and I really felt looked after and cared for.”

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Children's Shelter - Peru - Volunteer Reviews

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Freya - 2015

“I worked at the Children's Shelter project in Arequipa, Peru, for four weeks. It was one of the most rewarding and thought-provoking experiences of my life to date. As this trip was my first out of Europe on my own, when I first arrived at the airport I was full of nerves. I soon realised that these would subside when I was met by the local team who offered consistent support throughout my time in the city. From the outset, I felt very welcomed at both the accommodation and project.

When I wasn't working at the shelter I was able to explore all things Peruvian - from trying alpaca to learning about the education system - but it was my afternoon shifts at the
children's shelter that I most looked forward to. Nothing compares to having a group of kids run up to you with beaming smiles saying they are so pleased you came! A large part of my time was spent helping the older children with their daily 'tareas' (homework tasks). This was a sometimes challenging task but very satisfying when every child completed their given tasks before dinnertime. By the end of my time there I was particularly pleased that the children were coming up to me and asking to start their homework rather than the other way around as it had been in the beginning. I absolutely loved my time there and felt very sad to leave at the end. I would definitely recommend it to others.

What was a typical day volunteering at the Children’s Shelter in Peru?
As a Spanish-speaking volunteer, I largely worked with the older children in particular helping them do their homework. I would arrive at the shelter every day as the younger children were sitting down for lunch. I would spend my first couple of hours helping them eat, cleaning up after lunch and then playing with the little ones whilst the older kids ate their meal.

As soon as the older children were coming to the end of their meal, I would go downstairs and read their homework journals to see what tasks needed to be done and by who; this proved to be a particularly good routine as the opportunity to try and pretend that there was no homework was never missed by a couple! Once everyone was settled and quiet, I would then spend the next three hours either focussed with one child or rotating between them depending on the day's requirements. My involvement was sometimes simply explaining what needed to be done at the beginning and then ensuring that this was carried out. At other times, when the children were struggling more, I would sit with them individually and then try to explain how to it in more detail. An example of this was one girl who had a piece of Maths homework on division but she didn't know how to divide. I sat with her for an hour, teaching her a method to make it easier.

Depending on when the children had finished, I would either spend some time talking to the older ones or helping out with the dinner for the younger ones. I would normally leave at around 6.

What did you find most rewarding?
The most rewarding thing for me was seeing the development of the enthusiasm in the older children with regards their homework. It made me feel like I had made a small difference. When I first arrived it could take the entire allocated time for homework just to get everybody sat down. The children were not interested in concentrating. However, four weeks down the line, it was a completely different story. I set up an agreement with them that if everyone finished, there was a game we would play. After that, they started to encourage each other to focus on their homework and by the end, everyone was working really well. Seeing them work as a team in response to something I had said made me really pleased. Another simply, but incredibly rewarding thing was the smiles on the children's and local volunteer's faces when I arrived for my shift. It made me feel valued and appreciated.

What did you find most challenging?
The first week was the most challenging as I was in a completely new environment and had to become accustomed to it and also build up good, trusting relationships with the children.

Although I had worked with children before, I had never been to South America and so I looked to the local tías to see how they behaved with the children to see if there was any cultural differences. I was conscious at first that there were differences in things such as discipline. Like any kids, the children had a tendency to play up sometimes and so learning how to react to this was important. Ultimately, I felt it built stronger relationships with the children which was good.

I was pleased that the tías were really friendly but perhaps one area of improvement would be a little more guidance. This wasn't a problem though as I was able to work out what needed to be done quite clearly.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
I would say be open-minded and prepared to do anything. As a foreign volunteer, your role is very much as support to the tías who are there constantly and as such your tasks might change daily depending on what they need support with. I knew that every day I would spend a couple of hours doing homework but outside of that time, I could clean, play, cook and anything else.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
The appreciation of the local volunteers was one of the most rewarding things for me. On my first day, I brought some diaper supplies and stationary for the children. Although it was only a small contribution upon my arrival there, the gratitude that I received for it reminded me immediately why I had come. Thereafter, they told me several times how they wouldn't be able to run without support from volunteers from abroad.

On a personal level as well it is an incomparable experience. You get to volunteer, find out about another culture and have a completely new experience.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
I originally found it through the Duke of Edinburgh scheme, however I decided that it was the organisation through which I wanted to volunteer as I completely agreed with their ethos of productive, clearly beneficial volunteering abroad. I had seen lots of organisations which seemed incredibly expensive but it wasn't clear where the money was going. In contrast, Pod is very clear about how it helps, spends and I felt very enthusiastic about it when I found the website.”

Danielle - 2014

"I had the most amazing time volunteering the whole project was such an experience and the Tia's were just brilliant, I couldn't help but love the kids they were just so happy! Pod were a great help before I went I always had plenty of information and easy contact! Thank you Pod for helping me and Cassa Hogar for having me!

What was a typical day at the Children’s Shelter?
Either morning or afternoon shift, catch the bus to the shelter, then either do some general jobs just some washing and cleaning, then spend time with the kids, keeping them entertained! Help with dinner for them and then bed time...

What did you find most rewarding?
The little giggles of the kids and when you stop a crying fit!

What did you find most challenging?
It was really odd to leave, it was all so welcoming and you get really attached!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Learn a bit of Spanish and be willing to do all sorts!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It's so different to here and you really get to see the culture difference, the independence of it is also a great learning curve

Why did you choose Pod?
I found them online and they just gave me all the information possible."

Miguel - 2014

"It was a fantastic experience, a unique way of travelling around a different country and also meeting excellent people at the same time!, not only people at the children's shelter but also many locals as I spent 4 weeks living almost like a Peruvian, so got the chance to make new friends too.

Depending of your shift, you will be waking up very early on time for the small children to start getting ready for the day and have breakfast, so you'll normally help them with this, then after breakfast it's play time, normally will go upstairs to the open terrace roof where children stay there until lunch time, however some days you might go with them to the local playground. Older children normally go to school during the day. You'll need to think about games for the children that will also help them to learn new words, numbers and colours.

Sometimes you will need to make sure they respect each other and they don't fight over toys (at that age they all think everything is their own) so they learn how to share. Talking to them in Spanish is very important, so they can improve their mother tongue, however, they sometimes learn English words too, no harm! Then lunch time arrives and you'd normally help them setting up, then the new shift volunteers will arrive to replace you.

Same story in the afternoon shift, Lunch + Play time + Dinner adding bed time, where all children need to get changed and put into bed. Some afternoons you might need to help the older ones with their homework and also the full time volunteers (Tias) might ask you to help cleaning or with the laundry. Changing nappies will be needed along the day.

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing the children improving their social skills, language and even caring for you!

What did you find most challenging?
Teaching the children to respect you, they normally try to test you a lot at the beginning so they can get to do whatever they want!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Just enjoy as much as you can, you'll feel very sad after you leave

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It's a great experience, not only because you get to travel to places you'd normally don't go, but also the nice people you meet, the children you look after, the things you learn, I'll recommend everyone to do it.

Why did you choose Pod?
Was giving me the confidence to know that this was a real and worthy project and if I had any problem in the location I'd be supported."

Stephanie - 2014

"What was a typical day volunteering at the Children’s Shelter in Peru?
A 5 to 6 hour shift. The morning shift was set up to be from 7 am to 12 pm where volunteers are asked to feed the babies breakfast then take them upstairs to play. Sometimes they go to their small school building inside of the orphanage and do things like sing songs and work with clay around 9:30. Other times I would play music for them. Sometimes you also may ask to take the babies to the park and one or two ‘tias’ will assist you and the other volunteers. These trips are about an hour long. At 12 they eat lunch and this is about the time you leave.

The second shift is from 1 pm to 6 pm and the children are usually running around and have just had lunch. Upon arrival, volunteers are asked to take the babies upstairs and play with them and take care of them (change diapers, etc.) Until dinner around 5 pm followed by helping put them in pyjamas right after they eat. The volunteers that speak more Spanish are often asked to help the older kids (currently between 8 and 11 years old) with their homework.

What did you find most rewarding?
When you see the way the kids really get comfortable with you and that they truly enjoy your company. The moment when you feel as though you are really making a difference in their lives, even if it is only for a few weeks.

What did you find most challenging?
The language barriers in the beginning, but if you are willing to learn and have a desire to do so, the ‘tias’ do too.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Just be smart about your surroundings; always remember that you are in a foreign place. Also understand that this is an absolutely incredible experience, but it is also work. The orphanage needs volunteers, they need YOU and although it can be tiring and difficult, it is very rewarding and more than worth it. At the end of the day, remember that you get to make the difference. Also, they love music in this country! They encourage creativity in the kids and that is amazing. Maybe by mentioning this, volunteers in future will brain storm about things to do with/for the kids.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It's an eye opener and it truly helps with personal development. You get to help out someone who really needs it, and you get to learn a lot about yourself in the process. Everyone involved grows from this experience.

Why did you choose Pod?
I had not done anything like this before and the company looked organized, safe, and fun! Turned out to be true!

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes. Becky has been absolutely lovely in returning my e-mails promptly, giving advice, and following through with check-ins. That definitely makes the experience more enjoyable and puts people at ease and helps leave them feeling supported."

Jessie - 2013

"I had a wonderful time! The orphanage is a very special place, with a happy, vibrant feel to it. The children are extremely well nourished and very well cared for and I feel privileged to have been a part of such a fantastic project. The children are well brought up, very well-mannered and well behaved. As far as I could see, this was the next best thing to having their own families to live with.

What was a typical day?
If you were doing the morning shift you had to arrive at 7 to help dress the children and then feed them breakfast. Then we would go up to the roof to play with the children, or supervise them playing before the sun became too hot. When it did get too hot to be outside we would go inside the wooden "casita", the play house, where we would play with them until it was time for mid-morning fruit. Some volunteers would be with the children while another would clean the bedrooms and another would do the laundry. We would share out the tasks and alternate. Lunch was at 12. The afternoon shift starts at 1 and there was more play time. We would often go to the park in the afternoon as this gave the children a chance to be outside/run around and get some fresh air. They loved playing on the swings! The older children come back at about 2, have lunch and then spend most of the afternoon doing their homework, which I would help them with, when there were enough staff to supervise the younger ones. Dinner was at 5 and then we would get all the younger children ready for bed by 6 when the afternoon shift finished.

What did you find most rewarding?
Developing relationships with the children so that they recognised me and were pleased to see me when I arrived and would come to me to play with me or talk to me. It was very hard to leave after 6 weeks!

What did you find most challenging?
I had never changed a nappy before or dressed young children and initially this was a challenge. However, this then became part of the everyday life and was no longer a challenge. You need to have your wits about you to supervise the children and often need to react quickly.

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved?
They need more volunteers so that all children get the one to one time that they so need.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Be prepared to work very hard and to become attached to the children and to the orphanage. When I told people of my plans, many said to me, "I couldn't do that as I would find it too hard to leave". However, if everyone thought like that, no-one would become a volunteer! Give it your all, involve yourself and you will come away more enriched as a person. The children really benefit from having different volunteers. They are exposed to many cultures and languages and this helps build their confidence and social skills. I really believe that everyone should have a go at volunteering! It is so fantastic that I booked my second placement the day after returning from Peru.

I think Nike have it right when they say, JUST DO IT!!!!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
As I have said above, it is great to test one's limits, leave one's comfort zone (although I am a secondary teacher, young children were almost an unknown quantity to me) and turn one's hand to something new. We learn about new cultures, see a life that is not so dependent on technology and learn new things about ourselves, whilst truly doing something USEFUL and extremely REWARDING.

Why did you choose Pod?
A friend had done a placement teaching in Nepal and had recommended the organisation to me. I am doing my second placement with Pod this July in Belize."

Emily - 2013

“My time in Arequipa was everything I hoped it would be. Helping at the orphanage was challenging and often tiring but mostly very rewarding and good fun! Being there for 3 months really allowed me to see the children developing and to see some real positive results of our help. Living in the volunteer house was great too - plenty of people to organise lots of fun trips and activities, and also to share advice and experiences with.

What did you find most rewarding?
Knowing that you were directly helping not only the children of the orphanage but also that you´re making the lives of the tías, who have given up a lot more time there than us, that little bit easier too.

What did you find most challenging?
Getting up for the morning shift was sometimes hard but you don´t stay sleepy for long!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
If you can, I would recommend staying at least a month. It gives you more time to get to know the children, and for them to know you. It does make it hard to leave though! You get lots of support both from Pod in the UK and the in-country team, and the other volunteers can help you out too.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Living in a foreign city is completely different to just passing through as a traveller. Becoming part of a community so far from home is an experience which you are very lucky to have.

Why did you choose Pod?
Plenty of help and support from when I was first enquiring right through to the end of my placement. I also liked the idea of the volunteer house, and that the price was a lot more reasonable than other similar projects.”

Taylor - 2012

"My time in Peru has been amazing! I love everything about this country, volunteering definitely gave me more of a Peruvian experience, I did not feel like a tourist! I have met some of the greatest most amazing people here!

No day is ever the same at the orphanage!  Normally in the morning there are lots of chores to be done, as well as feeding and getting babies and children ready for the day. Some days you could just be hanging out with the kids, doing laundry, helping out in the kitchen, and cleaning! I can’t even list all of the different tasks that are thrown at you!

What did you find most rewarding?
What I found most rewarding was when the kids start getting more comfortable with you, when you walk through the door to start your shift and are swarmed with hugs!

What did you find most challenging?
Most challenging for me was the language barrier, as I do not speak Spanish and very few of them speak English! It was definitely a challenge sometimes!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Do It!! You will have to step out of your comfort zone every day, sometimes it is scary but it is definitely worth it. Do not hold back, give it your all!!

I think others should volunteer abroad because it gives you a totally different outlook on life. Learning about different cultures, and seeing the differences in everyday living,

I chose Pod because of all the extra support you get, any questions I had were answered right away, and you can tell they really care about their volunteers!"

Deirdre - 2012

"I spent one month volunteering at CasaHogar orphanage in Peru. It was without a doubt the best experience of my life and since I have come back to the UK I have found I appreciate life more. The children and staff at the orphanage were fantastic and every day I still take a few minutes to think about how their day is going. We supported the local full-time volunteers by helping with the cooking, cleaning and washing, as well as planning and running activities for the children such as arts and crafts, games and outings. The children are fantastic and well looked after in the orphanage. I met so many different volunteers from all walks of life many of whom I know I will be friends with for life. The experience was amazing and Becky at Pod was great in the months leading up to my placement. She answered any questions I had and my placement worked out great. I have come away from this experience appreciating that everybody needs a break and that is what we were able to do as volunteers - give a break to full time carers who dedicate their lives to the children at CasaHogar.

On the morning shift we would arrive by 7am. The volunteers would split the chores up between ourselves. Someone would help the full time volunteer Sonia with feeding and changing the toddlers and babies, another volunteer would sweep floors and do the laundry. The laundry chore meant taking dry clothes off the line and then separating all other clothes to hand wash and then hang on the line. Rooms had to be mopped and cleaned and then beds had to be made. When all of the chores were done it was time to play with the children - either in their rooms or on the terrace. At 12:00pm we would then feed the babies their bottles and food to the older children. The evening shift didn't have as many chores as the volunteers had done those in the morning but the babies and toddlers still needed to be fed and then we would do activities and games with all the children. The volunteers support the local full-time volunteers by helping give them a break and although there was plenty of time to play with the children it was great to be able to help with the practical day to day chores. To work at the orphanage you don't need any particular skills as long as you are willing to smile and do what needs to be done. Every day was different but the time went by too fast. We also brought the children on a trip to a local indoor fun park. They were so happy!"

What did you find most rewarding?
The look of relief on Sonia's face when we would arrive at the orphanage because she knew she would have some help on that particular day. It wasn't just about the children , it was about helping full time volunteers who give up 24 hours of their day every day to care for these children and it was great to be able to give them a break - even if it was just for a short while!

What did you find most challenging?
Getting up in the morning!!!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Do it - be open minded and smile! Remember to bring a puffa jacket to Peru its freezing at night and in the morning going to shifts!!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
You will be less stressed when you get home because you will appreciate life as it is!! You will also meet a whole new bunch of friends!

Why did you choose Pod?
Organised, non-profit organisation, the website was professional and Becky sold it well when she phoned me!"

Satvinder - 2012

"It was an amazing experience that will stay with me forever! Not having ever been brave enough to travel abroad before, especially on my own, Pod provided the ideal amount of support and guidance and ensured that the little things like transfers, were well organised. Fantastic value for money when I compare it to the extortionate prices other overseas volunteering organisations charge! The accommodation and support was brilliant! Especially for someone who has never travelled before.

The orphanage was a wonderful place. It houses nineteen children, mostly under three, some of whom are real cheeky characters! I found I had to pick up Spanish fast, which I enjoyed as much as looking after the children.

A typical day starts with greeting the orphanage manager before sweeping the rooms and outside areas. There are different brushes, mops etc. for the different rooms. We then mop the areas. You might then be asked to the laundry. This involves separating the coloured and white clothes, scrubbing them with grated soap and a brush, briefly and washing before adding them to the temperamental washing machine. Drying clothes on the line doesn't take long as the air is so dry and warm. They were ready to be taken down and folded within half an hour! The children put away their own clothes and you find that many of them want to help you with your duties.

Around 10am, I would help feed the toddlers freshly pureed fruit or give the babies their milk. The Peruvian volunteers you work alongside encourage you to speak in English to the babies and sing nursery rhymes. On one occasion, this turned into an impromptu disco, which was fun. Before you know it, the babies need changing and the toddlers want holding. Soon it's time for lunch and the feeding starts again. Each shift is between 5 or 6 hours so you have half a day to yourself. However, an Argentinian couple who were there often stayed until 6pm! So you're always welcome to stay longer if you wish.

I really enjoyed playing 'We're all going on a bear hunt' to the young children and toddlers. They started to join in with the actions towards the end. I also enjoyed teaching some of the children nursery rhymes and found they were starting to recite them quite well in English. One of the volunteers I was with found some pink wrapping paper which she made into hats for all the children and they had a party! The impromptu disco with the toddlers also made me smile... a lot.

I did not intend to do any travelling while I was in Peru as I expected to be busy at the orphanage and if not, learning Spanish. Thanks to the set-up of the volunteer house, I met lots of lone travellers/volunteers, many of whom were as cautious/sensible as I was about travelling and with varying degrees of travelling experience. With them, I ended up seeing and experiencing Machu Picchu, Colca Canyon (my favourite!), Lake Titicaca, Jaunita the ice maiden, the Huacachina desert and the Santa Catalina Monastery. Not bad for four weeks!

We also had weekly meetings about our placement which is a great opportunity to share your thoughts and ideas. The local charity also organised events for the volunteers, to allow them to experience true Peruvian culture. We got to go an outdoor Peruvian music and beer festival and watched, what appeared to be, the Peruvian equivalent to The Wanted! We also had a 'Fun Co-ordinator' (one of the longer term volunteers) who organised a roast dinner, movie nights etc. As I said, an amazing experience!"

What did you find most challenging?
With lots of babies comes lots of poo and mucus, of various consistencies and smells! This was a challenge at first but you get over it pretty fast. What is harder to come to terms with is some of the stories the children come to the orphanage with. You may only hear snippits, but it's enough to make you think and wonder how they keep such a big smile on their face each and every day. Luckily, the orphanage see themselves as 'a big family', which must really help.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
I would highly recommend this placement. Volunteers would need to be prepared to be flexible and open-minded and be prepared to pitch in with everything you are asked to do. After all, you are part of the 'family' while you are there.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It's a great way of really getting to know a country and a culture. You're not tourist, you become accepted as 'one of the crowd' which is the best way of gaining understanding of a different part of the world. There is also lots of opportunity to travel. Living in a volunteer house also provides you with a base full of people doing the same as you!

Why did you choose Pod?
Pod provide excellent guidance and support throughout your time as a volunteer. They have ensured that they provide a safe place to stay in a pleasant part of town with close links to the local charity. Best of all, they are not-for-profit and compared to most volunteer-abroad companies, don't charge extortionate prices, making this opportunity available to people of a wider range of budgets, without leaving you wondering where all the money really goes. They are established and very experienced and have time for all their volunteers, whatever their past experience (or lack of!).

Thank you Pod, for all your help and patience. I have already started to plan my next volunteer trip!"

Katherine - 2012

"It wasn´t easy but the rewards you got out of it more than made up for any hard times!

I worked at the orphanage for five and a half weeks but could have stayed for months. The volunteers working there and the children were amazing, such lovely company and it was a pleasure working with them.

In the morning, I would either do some laundry and help tidy up around the house, or look after the babies, playing with and feeding them, or else I would be with the toddlers, playing on the terrace or going to buy some milk with five or six of them in tow! In the afternoons, there weren´t as many chores, but the laundry still had to be done. I was with the babies, playing on the mats on the floor, helping them learn to crawl, and changing lots of nappies!

Being there for more than a couple of weeks, you can see the changes in the children, especially the younger ones - teaching a toddler a new word or helping one of the babies learn to crawl is pretty rewarding!

What did you find most challenging?
The responsibility that is handed to you pretty much the minute you walk in - I had never had any experience with babies before working there and had to look after lots of them, two 3 month old, premature twins being the most nerve wracking!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
I´d really recommend it, I enjoyed it so much, but I do wish I could have stayed for longer, I´d advise that you should do it as long as possible, I think a couple of weeks is too short, both for the volunteer and the kids at the orphanage.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
You get to see and experience amazing parts of the world whilst doing something meaningful there, and I also think that it massively improves confidence.

Why did you choose Pod?
I was looking for a project in Peru and saw an advert in the back of the Big Issue magazine for Pod that mentioned Peru so looked it up online and liked the look of it. The correspondence with the Pod team was also really good and helpful.

Nicola

"For my 30th Birthday I decided to do the things I've always dreamed of: improve my Spanish, travel and work in an orphanage. I spent the most amazing 3 months of my life in Arequipa, with some really great people. Everyone is committed to giving the children placed in the orphanage the love and care all children deserve. A once in a lifetime experience - so great I'm doing it again!!"

Monika

I can absolutely recommend it to everyone. First of all the kids need love and attention and that is what everybody can give and that's the best of all volunteering: putting smiles on their faces and making this little difference to them and this huge difference in your own perception of world."

Jonathan

I had the best time with the kids every day. It's a tough job but so rewarding each day when you show up there and all the kids have these huge smiles and cannot wait to study and play games. The short time I was here I saw huge progress with all the children.

Charlene

"What an amazing experience! The children are so loving and happy - this experience has made our trip! They are all very hardworking and proud of their work and also very keen to learn English. Jay and Luis do a great job - so hardworking - a real inspiration to everyone. We are all thinking about a change in career! Thank you for this chance and for making us feel welcome - you will all be remembered for your amazing work with these amazing children."

Lara

“I had such a good experience volunteering in Peru and am so glad I chose Pod. Everything was well organised and I felt a lot more relaxed knowing there would be someone to meet me at the airport and help me settle in. The projects themselves were both really rewarding and I wouldn't change a thing about my trip overall.

I chose Pod because one of my friends had done a volunteer project with Pod before and recommended them to me. Yes I would highly recommend Pod - especially for first time travellers like myself.

It is such an amazing experience, one which I will treasure forever and something that I would recommend to anyone to do if they get the chance.”

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Children's Day Care - South Africa - Volunteer Reviews

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Rachel - 2015

“This trip to South Africa has been a life changing experience. I did so many things I never thought I would do. I also met friends that I will have for life. Truly a once in a lifetime experience!

What is a typical day at the project?
Wake up early, Monty drove us to the school and then we would get there and help with arts and crafts, help feed them, and play with them.

What did you find most rewarding?
Working with the underprivileged kids.

What did you find most challenging?
Language barriers and culture shocks.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Be flexible and open minded. Also, you’re more than likely going to want to extend your stay.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It helps the world.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends? Yes”

Mackenzie - 2015

“Volunteering at the children's day care in South Africa was an amazing and life changing experience. It can seem a little bit unorganized at times but it was an awesome experience and I would definitely recommend It if you are considering going.

What was a typical day at the project?
We work arrive at around 8 and play with the children, do the daily activities like painting or reading or puzzles and try and help them with english and then we would usually be picked up around 12:30 to go back to our apartment.

What did you find most rewarding?
Working with the children was very rewarding

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
That at times it seems very unorganized when you are in South Africa but just keep an open mind and have fun and try and enjoy your time there. It goes by so fast and it is a great opportunity to be able to help other people.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It is an amazing experience and really makes you appreciate what you have back at home and it is a great opportunity to see another country and their way of life.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
I was researching companies to volunteer with online and came across pod and really liked the website and when I contacted pod Ellie was really helpful with all the questions I had.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends?
Yes”

Kathryn - 2014

“My experience working in South Africa was fantastic. Pod were really supportive before and during the assignment. I was slightly unsure about doing volunteering as I am slightly older than the average but would recommend it to anyone. I loved working at the crèche - the kids were so cheerful and welcoming. You felt you were really making a contribution.
There was also plenty of opportunity to explore the area and make some memories.

What was a typical day at the project?
Arrive about 8.30 and play with the kids until about 9.00. Help with serving breakfast and washing up. Assist with activities such as reading, drawing, painting until about 10.30 then help with serving tea and biscuits. Playtime (playing with dolls, ball games, train sets, outside swings) until about 11.30 then help with serving lunch and washing up. Help with preparing nap time. Leave about 1.00

What did you find most rewarding?
Being asked to read one of the books I had brought to the kids.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Just relax and enjoy it. Don't worry about anything - you've got the support of a great company who can help you with anything.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It is such a rewarding experience. You've feel so proud of yourself afterwards.

Why did you choose Pod?
Their website and initial contact were really professional and I had great confidence in them.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Helen - 2013

"I thoroughly recommend this placement because It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and memories that I will never forget. Children that will make your morning!

What was a typical day at the project?
Get picked up at 8am and taken to out nursery. Where we say hello to everyone and help the staff prepare and hand out breakfast. Once the children have eaten their breakfast we wash up and dry up the bowls and spoons. Then we help the staff with play activities and supervise and play with the children during free play. Mid morning we will hand out snack and drinks for the children and then wash up. After snack time children usually go outside to play depending on the weather. After outside playtime children are then brought inside we play with them during free play and help the staff with nursery and song time. After song time children tidy away to get ready for lunch, after lunch children's teeth are brushed and then put down for naps.

What did you find most rewarding?
Working with the children and giving them one to one attention.

What did you find most challenging?
The language barrier as a lot of the volunteers were German speaking and some didn't know very good English.

What advice would you give to others considering doing this project?
Do as many sightseeing activities as possible to make the most of the time you have there!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
An experience you will never forget!

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! Good for first time travellers as very well supported and organised.”

Beth – 2013

“Child Care in South Africa was great. Seeing the kids’ faces in the morning light up when you walk through the room is an amazing feeling. The accommodation was lovely and having the weekends off meant that I had time to explore Cape Town.

What was a typical day at the project?
8.30- Get picked up 9.00-Arrive at Project and play with the kids until around 9.15 9.15-Children eat breakfast 9.30- Songs and bible reading with the children 10.30- Snack time 11.00-Learning activities with the children such as alphabet etc 11.30-Lunch 12.00- Children have nap time and we go home.

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing how happy the kids were when they just got a small bit of attention

What did you find most challenging?
Some of the parents have not washed their children or fed them which was very sad to see.

What advice would you give to others considering doing this project?
Enjoy yourself, make the most of your placement and take time to explore Cape Town. It is a beautiful city.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It’s nice to see different cultures and the way others live. It’s a great experience and you come back with memories that you will never forget

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! My friend has worked with POD for 3 years now and has always come back with good comments.”

Caroline – 2013

“The staff at the project were friendly and obviously enjoyed having the volunteers there as I was made to feel very welcome. The children were a delight-always friendly and so appreciative of anything that was done for them. I loved my stay at the project and would love to return.

What was a typical day at the project?
The routine was very well structured which meant that we knew exactly what we had to do each day. We just helped the children with all the things that they did in the centre. Each day I helped with feeding, playing, schoolwork and anything else I could do to be useful.

What did you find most rewarding?
The work with the children and their appreciation of all that was done for them.

What did you find most challenging?
The language barrier- other volunteers were German/Austrian.

What advice would you give to others considering doing this project?
Do it!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It helps to give us a perspective about what is important in our lives whilst doing something that is immensely rewarding.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! The service and help I was given made me feel more confident about travelling abroad on my own.”

Lacey – 2012

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to take part in such an amazing experience! I had a brilliant time! Seeing the children's face light up when you walk in is something special that will stay with me forever!

I'm 18 years old and was a bit wary about going to South Africa on my own for 4 weeks! I can honestly say I had the most amazing time! The sense of achievement the project brings, and the smile on the children's face when they see you is something I can cherish for the rest of my life! It helped me to grow up and very much influenced my career path! Brilliant!

What did you find most rewarding? The sense of achievement when the children come and hug you or when you teach them a new word and they remember it.

What did you find most challenging? Seeing what they had, which was nothing there were about 30 kids in one small room, but no matter what the kids are always happy! I really had to think and be prepared to bring in new ideas everyday.

What advice would you give to others considering this project? Just go for it!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? To explore the different cultures around the world and share your knowledge.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend them to others? Yes! When I came across the website I found it was the most helpful in explaining exactly what the project involved, also Erin was very quick to reply to my email/application.”

Sandra – 2011

“What did you enjoy most about the project? The project was really nice. I enjoyed every single day working there. The women were very friendly and I got some new friends, working with the young children was great.

Summarise your stay in South Africa in one sentence: The experience of a lifetime which has given me an appetite to do more.

Would you recommend this project to your friends and why? Yes, working on a project is an excellent way to get to know South Africa.”

Monique – 2011

“Did your time in South Africa meet your expectations and why? The project was absolutely great, especially Alta the leader of the project. I learnt a lot about myself and the culture of South Africa.

Summarise your stay in South Africa in one sentence: I learnt a lot about myself and I got a lot of experiences in a country full of diversity.”

Carine – 2011

“What did you enjoy most about the project? That the children in the crèche were accepting me since my first day. I could do different projects with them. Christina took me for walks to see life in the townships.

Summarise your stay in South Africa in one sentence: It was a great experience to see and work in South Africa and I learnt a lot for the rest of my life”

Miriam – 2011

“What did you enjoy most about the project? I enjoyed every single day working there. The women were very friendly and I got some new friends, working with the young children was great.

Would you recommend this project to your friends and why? Yes I think it is a nice project for people working with children.”

Marina – 2011

“What did you enjoy most about the project? I met the happiest people in the world, so I am very glad about this. Also to see the children are happy even with small money”

Lauren – 2011

“Did your time in South Africa meet your expectations and why? My stay in South Africa met my expectations and more. I knew I would be working with children but not as much as I have, I also enjoyed meeting new people”

Anja – 2011

“Did your time in South Africa meet your expectations and why? I saw beautiful places but I also see the sad side and the problems this country still has.

What did you enjoy most about the project? The kids. They are adorable and very impressing- I learnt a lot from them. The teachers are very friendly and helpful and open. Some of the ways of educating is different.

Summarise your stay in South Africa in one sentence: A country of contrasts, definitely worth returning to.”

Leonie – 2011

“What did you enjoy most about the project? There aren’t negative aspects to the project. The people are so nice and friendly and the children are so cute and the work there was fun. It was interesting to get information about their lives.”

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Children's Home - Patae - Thailand - Volunteer Reviews

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Jamie - 2015

“My trip to Thailand was definitely the most rewarding and exciting thing I've ever done. From the moment I arrived at the airport, I began learning about the culture and way of life of the Thai people. The workers at the orphanage were so welcoming and genuinely made me feel like a part of the family from day one. I learned so much from my trip away, not just about the kids and people I met, but also about myself. It gave me a great perspective on life, and I still feel the difference in myself. The biggest thing I took away from my time at the orphanage was just how happy and content the kids are. A lot of people said that the language barrier was a big struggle, but I really didn’t find it to be a problem. With the kids you can so easily communicate through games, body language and gestures. And with the staff, Tammy, Kate & Bae had enough English to help you out with any problems. It is helpful however to learn a few key phrases before you go. Also while you are there you will be expected to teach English to the kids, so I would advise preparing some work and exercises for your time there. The kids already have the basics down, like colours, animals etc.

What was a typical day at the project?
A typical day involved getting up to see the kids off the school at 7.30 and then going up to the cafe for breakfast at 8am. Then work began for the day, which involved gardening, cooking, laundry, working on the hydroponic system, cleaning the kid’s rooms and just any other odd jobs that needed doing. The kids then arrived home around 5pm. The kids would then do their chores or homework for a while, which you can help out with. After that the kids love to play football or go down to the river to swim when it’s hot. After dinner the kids would go to the activities room to relax and play games before bed.

What did you find most rewarding?
I found my interactions with the children to be the most rewarding. Just observing and playing with them gave me the opportunity to learn so much. The children were always so happy and really looked out for each other. They really made me think about my own life and the way I lived it.

What did you find most challenging?
I think the pace of life was probably the biggest challenge for me. While I knew I wouldn't be changing the world in my short time at the orphanage, I still found it hard to adjust the more relaxed and easy going pace of life in Thailand. I wanted to do as much as I could while I was there, and help out as much as I could. But after a while I realised that it was more about being a part of the family there, and just going with the flow while living like the locals do.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
To just have an open mind, and be ready for anything. It's not about changing their lives or changing how they do things. Its about experiencing and embracing their cultures and being a part of their family. You're there to help out with the day to day runnings of the orphanage and just be there to help with whatever they need. Also avoid being on your own for too long during the first few days as that can be when homesickness can set in.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
I think it's a great way to see another country and really experience the culture. It's so easy to travel and let your time slip by without really being a part of it all. When you volunteer you get to be a part of an ongoing process to help out in the world, and also get to learn a lot about yourself. As soppy as it is to say, you really do learn so much about yourself through your interactions with the local people. Volunteering is different for everyone, but no matter what, as long as you really get involved you'll have an amazing time.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
When I decided to volunteer I researched many sites before I came across Pod. Pod seemed to have a lot of information on their projects, and a lot of experience. I’m so glad I did go with Pod, because I honestly did not have one problem or hiccup throughout my whole trip.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends? Yes”

Kallie - 2015

“I would definitely recommend this project to anyone thinking about taking part. I loved every minute and it is a fantastic and loving place. Do it!

What was a typical day at the project?
My day would usually start about 8am where I would go for breakfast at the coffee shop. Jobs would start at 9am. This could be a range of things such as cleaning, ironing, helping with dinner preparations, teaching English, planting spinach in the hydroponics system or tidying the kids' room. Jobs would resume at 1pm and then the kids would get home about 4pm. After that there would be time to socialise with kids before dinner.

What did you find most rewarding?
One weekend 25 students came to help with some construction at the orphanage. My group helped to build a dam in the river so it was deep enough for the kids to swim in. This is great for them in the summer months as it gets so hot it's nice for them to be able to cool down. This was rewarding as it was quite tough work making sand bags in the heat but after the kids were playing and splashing around and it was lovely to see.

What did you find most challenging?
I found talking the English lessons the most challenging part of my stay. During the week I would teach two English lessons to a few visiting nurses and doctors. I would also do English with two of the kids who hadn't yet gone to school, we would do about an hour after lunchtime. Of the weekends some of the local students would come to visit and have English lessons for a couple of hours. All of these lessons were very enjoyable and rewarding but they were challenging as I had never taught before and was a tad unprepared. But after the
first one it was okay as I knew what to expect and could do some preparations in my free time.

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved?
I thought everything about the project was perfect. As long as you're ready to adapt to Thai lifestyle and just get stuck in with whatever needs doing then you’ll have a great experience.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
My advice would be to make sure you're well prepared. You will be teaching English to the children and possibly adults as well so it might be helpful for you to take some things out with you to assist you with your lesson preparation. Also you just need to get stuck in and go with it. Thai lifestyle and time keeping may be a little different to what you are used to, but don't let this put you off, just go with it.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Volunteering abroad is a fantastic opportunity to do something wonderful whilst experiencing a different culture and learning about a different way of life. It also is a great way to have some independence. For me it was the first time I had been abroad on my own and doing something like this to me felt like a huge achievement because I had done it alone.

Why did you choose Pod?
Pod were incredibly informative. The information pack gives you pretty much everything you need to know and if you have any questions they will respond to you quickly. They support you all throughout your journey and check that you are enjoying the project.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes

Any other comments?
I would definitely recommend Pod. They were helpful, friendly and supportive."

Kathryn - 2015

"Children's Home Patae is a very warm, welcoming home. The children are so well-mannered, respectful, and inquisitive. The foundation is amazing, and I am incredibly humbled by all that they have achieved. The children are in a stable home, and are quite happy. I do not think many foster homes in the US are as stable and welcoming. I give all of my praise to the wonderful adults who have established this foundation, especially Root and his wife Risa.

What was a typical day at the project?
Awaken, eat breakfast, help clean up or help in the bakery. When the children return home, we helped with their homework, especially English. We stayed during the New Year's holiday so our schedule was different than during a typical weekday. Of course there was a New Year's party that everyone enjoyed. In the holidays, we went to Lumpi Waterfall, the beach, and hiked up a mountain to watch the sunset. It was amazing!

What did you find most rewarding?
Teaching the children English and geography. They were especially interested in life in the US and where we are from.

What did you find most challenging?
For me, I speak Thai fluently (I'm Thai-American). I think for my daughter, the language was more challenging for her.

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved?
No - it was fantastic!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
I highly recommend the experience at Children's Home- Patae

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
So that he or she will learn about typical life in Thailand.

Why did you choose Pod?
So that my daughter will learn more about her Thai heritage.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes"

Kaitlyn - 2015

“It was an outstanding experience. I had a great time with the kids. Everyone was very warm, welcoming, and engaging. They hugged you and welcomed you as part of the family the moment you step onto the place. It was a great experience to learn how to be self-sufficient and care for one another. The children all performed chores without complaining.

What was a typical day at the project?
We woke up to the sound of children. In the morning, we would help out at the bakery or assist the children with small chores or crafts projects. At night, we would read and teach English to them. Finally, right before going to bed, the older children played music for us with their guitars.

What did you find most rewarding?
I found it most rewarding to play with the children. Swimming and playing badminton and volleyball showed me that even though we come from different places, we can come together and play a simple game.

What did you find most challenging?
There was a language barrier. My mother spoke fluent Thai, but I did not. Therefore, it slowed the communication between the children and me because my mother would have to translate the conversations.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Be ready to teach the children by bringing books and colouring kits.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It is a great experience to become worldly and discover the lifestyle of those in other countries. It is truly life changing.

Why did you choose Pod?
Pod seemed to be a reliable organization with much experience with effectively placing volunteers abroad.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes, I enjoyed my time volunteering”

Margery - 2014

“My time at the Children's Home - Patae, was a real blessing for me. I felt right at home from the start, and was very well looked after. The children were an absolute delight and welcomed me into their family. It was so good to be part of the home. I really enjoyed my time there. Right from being picked up from the airport, I felt cared for and encompassed into this family. It makes you appreciate what you have at home. The staff were very friendly and looked after me really well.

What was typical day at the project?
Getting up at 6.30am, to be with the children as they prepared to go to school, going on the school drop off, then off to the market for supplies, then back home. Breakfast and then chores around the property. After school, play with the children, and then spend time with the children doing homework, giving english lessons.

What did you find most rewarding?
I felt being able to see the children respond and want to learn and be involved in what is happening. They opened their hearts to me and that was wonderful and rewarding.

What did you find most challenging?
The only challenging thing for me, is the language, and not understanding when they speak in Thai.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Just go for it, and enjoy it.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Because it opens your eyes to how others live and you can make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate that yourself

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to a friend?
Yes, because of how everything was conducted and what they offered”

Jocelyn -2014

"I had a brilliant time at the Children’s Home Patae, the staff and children are the friendliest, most welcoming people you'll meet. Make the most of every opportunity and jump in at the deep end, the children and staff will love you for it and you'll have a much better experience! And take games, colouring books, toys with you as the children appreciate everything! Most of all enjoy it!

What was a typical day at the project?
We had breakfast at 8am most days, we would then do work around the orphanage such as painting, building, washing etc until around 11am, a few hours off for lunch and then the same again in the afternoon. The children got home around 4pm, we generally helped them with chores & homework and did some English lessons in the evening or played games with them. We also had a few days where we went out to other projects such as mangrove replanting centre, a Burmese school and the beach, these were great!

What did you find most rewarding?
Helping the kids learn English & forming a close bond with them where they are happy to tell you about their lives.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Jump in, get your hands dirty, don't be afraid to try things out and if they don't work try something different!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
You get to see a not-so-touristy side to the country and a totally different way of life!"

Rhona - 2014

“I volunteered for four weeks this summer at the Children's Home Patae in Thailand. It was by far the most exciting, eye-opening, enjoyable, and emotional month of my life! While I was there, we didn't have much of a set routine to what we were doing. The Thai people were so laid back, and so lovely, that they didn't mind when we did jobs - as long as they got done! My usual jobs while I was there included laundry, ironing, building walls/structures, cleaning, gardening and playing/teaching the kids. Some of these jobs don't sound too hard, but you've got to remember that in sweltering, humid heat, or even a monsoon - these jobs can be challenging! Once completed though, these jobs are very rewarding.

While I was in Thailand, I absolutely fell in love with the country, people, language and sights. I'm already looking at going back soon! The Thai way of life at the Children's home was incredibly laid back, it was a great atmosphere for the kids to be growing up in. All of the children are so grateful, happy and kind, it will really take your breath away. While I was there I really felt like I was part of the family. They are all so welcoming to everyone and want to make you feel at home. I cannot wait to be back with my Thai family as soon as I possibly can be – I miss them so much!

What was describe a typical day at the project?
Breakfast was at 8am most days, work commenced at 9am. Typically, we would work till 12pm, when lunch would be served. We would start work again at 1pm, and continue until the children came home around 4/5pm. Then, we would help the children with homework, help them gardening or just play games with the kids. Dinner was served between 6pm and 6.30pm every day. After dinner, most nights we would go into the activity room with the kids and play games with them or do English lessons with the older kids. One of the staff would conduct a meeting with the children, then they would pray and go to sleep. Usually, bedtime was around 8pm on a school night (although the older children stayed up later in their rooms) and later on weekends.

What did you find most rewarding?
I found that the most rewarding thing was when we had completed even just a small job for the kids - such as cleaned their rooms while they were at school - and when they came back they were just so grateful. Also, when teaching the children English, and they would start understanding what you were trying to teach them (when the light bulb suddenly went on!) was such an amazing feeling that I will never get bored of.

What did you find most challenging?
The most challenging part for me was the heat. On my first week I developed heat exhaustion and felt rubbish. The humidity and sun made me so tired and fatigued. Towards the end of the trip though I got a lot more used to the climate and felt much better. It was also extremely hard leaving the children, although when I left I knew that I would be back as soon as I could be so it wasn't as hard as it could have been.

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved?
There are no aspects I would like to see improved. I loved every second of the placement.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Do it! It will without a doubt be the most incredible, worthwhile time of your life. I can't even put into words how much this placement changed me, how much it meant to me. The children at the project will make all the hard work worth it.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Volunteering abroad will be totally different to volunteering at home. Volunteering in such a poor part of the world - such as rural Thailand - gives you not only an understanding of another part of the world, but another way of life, another set of people, another culture, another religion. It makes you appreciate how much you have in your home country, and has the power to change you as a person.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes, Pod gave me such a range of countries to choose from, and such a range of volunteering opportunities. Right from the start they were supportive and helpful."

Hayley - 2014

“Just go for it! When I did this placement I had never flown by myself, never flown long haul and never been out of Europe. It was a huge experience for me but one I will treasure for the rest of my life.

What is a typical day at the project?
Every day is different, but you can expect an early start, breakfast served at 8am and after breakfast a member of staff will brief you with your tasks for the day. Lunch is served at 12pm and dinner at 6pm, the food is traditional Thai meals. Tasks include anything from construction, gardening, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and ironing. Thai people are fairly traditional in the roles expected of men and women.

What did you find most rewarding?
The time with the children at weekends, just playing in the river or reading with them.

What did you find most challenging?
The physical challenges such as not hot water, the temperature and the insect bites are immediate but you get used to them. I found adjusting to life back at home to most challenging and getting into a routine again.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes"

Kristina - 2014

“The staff were very kind to me; wonderful, cheerful people who are very disciplined about maintaining their site and ensuring the children have a robust life together. I found that the children's home had a really integrated approach to their site: the children go to school, but they're also doing a lot of local farming (including hydroponic greenhouses), practicing English, and entrepreneurship that I feel like are really setting the children up with a good understanding of what it's like to run their own households / be adults on their own someday. It's really encouraging to see so much investment in so many different ways into their futures and so many creative approaches to how to run the children's home.

"Mr. Root" was in the process of building several additional hydroponic greenhouses. These allow the children's home to grow a lot of produce on fairly lean resources in a safe and sustainable way!

Volunteering helps me put my professional life into perspective by re-evaluating the difference between something being urgent (perhaps a work deadline) and something being important (such as international poverty). Furthermore I think it's really important to gather local experiences first-person; the experience of being there allows you understand other cultures and world situations from the perspective of "I was there" instead of "I heard from the media" which has been invaluable to me."

Victoria - 2014

“If you are looking for a two week placement somewhere completely different where you can experience the 'real Thailand' then look no further. Be prepared to muck in and do a wide variety of jobs. This could be anything from cooking, cleaning, and gardening to light manual work.

What was a typical day at the orphanage in Thailand?
There is no such thing as a typical day! Things change from day to day and minute to minute. As a general rule you can expect the following... An early start and a cold shower ( it's hot so it doesn't matter) Typically English breakfast of cereal and toast After breakfast you will have a team meeting where you will be given your tasks for the day. These usually include laundry, cooking, cleaning and gardening. Some days you will be working in the coffee shop or going to the local market to collect provisions. The children go to school at 7.30 and arrive home at 4 pm. When the children get home you can help them with their homework. There is a meeting at 7 and you are invited to join that too. The Children are usually bed by 8.30. Make sure you have a shower before 830 in the evening as the water is turned off then! There is good Wi-Fi access so the evenings can be spent catching up with emails and family back home. At the weekend you will get to spend more time with the children on outings such as the beach or local temple. You will also have a day off during the week and you can visit the local beach or water fall. The staffs are really helpful at suggesting places to visit.

What did you find most rewarding?
Meeting people from completely different cultures who were prepared to share their lives and home. There are still ways to communicate even if you don't speak Thai. Seeing the kids enjoy the simple pleasures in life such as running along the beach or playing football. It’s easy to understand why they call Thailand the land of smiles.

What did you find most challenging?
I found the language challenging but somehow we did find a way to understand each other- usually through humour! If you are not familiar with a really hot climate then i would recommend you arrive a couple of days before to get acclimatised.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Try and get Pod to put you in touch with someone who has done the placement before (I would be more than happy to speak to anyone who wanted more info) be prepared to be open minded and flexible about what happens each day. You must be prepared to go with the flow, get stuck in and try doing anything-You will surprise yourself! Take everything with you that is recommend in the suggested list.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It's a great way to put some distance between what you think is difficult about life in the UK and really understand what life is really like in another culture. Volunteering broadens the mind, ensures you search your soul and makes you appreciate what's really important about life. Trust me, if you stretch yourself you will surprise yourself. If your only fear is that you think you can't hack it - stop worrying and just do it!

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes"

Sophia - 2013

"I enjoyed every moment I spent at the orphanage in Thailand. I fell in love with the children and staff and their contagious smiles. It was wonderful to see how the orphanage operates and just how dedicated the staff are to the children's wellbeing. It was very special to me to get to know each of the children. They made me feel like part of their family and that I will never forget. I can't wait to return to see everyone.

What was a typical day at the orphanage in Thailand?
I'd wake up early morning to help the children get ready for school. They are very self-sufficient and have a good routine so I mostly followed them around and helped where I could. Then I'd either hop into the truck and see them to school or send them off and have some breakfast. After breakfast I'd either do the loads of laundry, clean the rooms, do the ironing or help with food preparation. Other days I would help baking the infamous banana muffins and bread for the market or help with shopping for supplies. After lunch I would do gardening, potting or help with any projects they had such as wrapping up Christmas cards to sell or send to sponsors. I'd also help with food preparation and once attempted to prepare some freshly caught fish. In the afternoon I would join the staff to pick the children from school. The ride home is always fun we all pile into the back of truck. When we get home I help the children with homework, mostly English lessons and read books. After homework it's volleyball, soccer, swimming in the river or music time. Some afternoons we'd all do some gardening and collect some food for dinner. After dinner I'd play games with the children and help them get anything ready for school the next day. On the Saturdays I'd go to the market to help sell the infamous banana muffins with 2 of the children. Then on Sunday we'd either go on an excursion to a waterfall or beach or just stay and home and play. Each day would be different and each day you'd see just how amazing the orphanage is. The staff are incredibly accommodating and always ensured I was comfortable with whatever I was doing.

What did you find most rewarding?
Playing with the children. They have so much energy and love sports and music. I loved the English and reading lessons I had with each of the children. Some spoke more English than others but they each loved the reading books and learning new words, especially Australian animals.

What did you find most challenging?
Saying goodbye. When it was time for me to leave I struggled to say goodbye. I had become part of the family and wanted to stay longer. I had gotten to know each child and loved spending time with them. I knew I would come back so it was not goodbye simply “see you later alligator”.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Don't be afraid to get dirty. The orphanage is in the jungle and I walked around in bare feet a lot. I did a lot of digging, climbing trees, swimming in the river and running in mud. There are lots of bugs, animals and outdoors awesomeness. I took old clothes and shoes. Also you should take your own initiative, after I was shown how to do something once I just did it.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Volunteering is incredibly rewarding. It opens your eyes to how big, beautiful and diverse the world is. It challenges you to think differently and teaches you life skills that you'll have forever. Volunteering abroad shows you how there are many types of ways of life and that happiness can be found in the smallest of places. Most importantly I think it teaches you humanity.

Why did you choose Pod?
Incredible professional record."

Kynan – 2013

“Thank you Becky and the Pod team for an amazing life changing experience, I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. My time at the Orphanage was just great, the children are absolutely beautiful, I stayed there for three weeks and I feel that was a great time to spend (wish I'd stayed longer ). I would highly recommend staying at least two weeks in order to form a good bond with the kids, but even a week you will still have an amazing experience. Apart from the fun times with the children, I loved living the Thai culture, they are such beautiful people, that was a great experience in itself. For anyone thinking about doing this, stop thinking and just do it!! Go there with an open mind and no expectations and you will have a blast!! I can’t wait to go back :)

How would you describe a typical day volunteering at the orphanage in Thailand?
Once the children leave for school, you go have breakfast, then wait to hear the plans for the day. Usually it would be cleaning rooms, or laundry, which doesn’t take up too much time, so a lot of the time is just hanging round, saying that there’s plenty to do if you go looking; I also had little projects, like building a donation box, painting the furniture in the coffee shop and other things.

What did you find most rewarding?
Making the kids laugh.

What did you find most challenging?
I can’t say I really found any of it challenging, there was the language barrier, but after a week I barely noticed it, if anything the cold showers were a challenge and leaving the place was really hard after building a strong relationship with everyone.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Bring insect repellent, I never had a problem with the insects, but coming into the afternoon I always bathed myself in repellent. Bring old crappy clothes, I had to throw a lot of mine out, couldn’t get them clean. Enjoy Thai food, I thought the food was great, but others I was with didn’t like it all that much and went pretty hungry. The biggest advice I can give is go there with an opened mind, their culture is a lot different than others, make the most of this opportunity and enjoy living the life they live.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It’s good for the children to have that experience with people from a different country, helps them heaps to learn English, which is something they need for their future. And also do it for yourself, the feeling I got from this experience is overwhelming, I am so happy to have done this and I feel amazing from it, I will go back there..

Would you recommend Pod to your friends and why did you choose Pod?
Yes, I found POD through google, there were a few different sites I was looking at offering the same thing, but Pod seemed like a more professional organisation.”

Hannah - 2013

"I had a great time at the orphanage in Thailand. All of the staff and children were really welcoming and friendly, and even though there was a bit of a language barrier it did not matter too much when spending time with the kids. There's lots of opportunity to get involved especially with teaching.

Overall it was a brilliant volunteering project and I will definitely be going back to visit when I can in the future! Thanks Pod for making this opportunity available to me! I have had a brilliant time volunteering and hope to do more in the future.

What was a typical day?
We would get up and have breakfast, then find out what our morning jobs would be - this could be painting one of the bedrooms/playroom or doing the large amounts of laundry. Then it would be lunch time and then we would do more jobs such as ironing until the children got home at around 4. We would then help the children with home and then play with them, this could be football or colouring or UNO, etc. The kids then showered and then had dinner. We would then play with the kids until 7 when they had a meeting (all in Thai) and then it would be bed time for the younger children, and we would teach the older children an English song.

It rained for a week and the indoor jobs they had for us when the kids were at school became a bit thin on the ground so I had quite a bit of spare time.

Weekends are the best as the kids often have a trip out to the beach or the waterfall, and you can also have a dip in the river next to the orphanage. At the weekends we taught English to each child individually, and there was lots of opportunities to go on trips, get a good football game going or help out with the upkeep of the orphanage garden.

What did you find most rewarding?
Teaching the children English and building a friendship with all of the kids. I liked getting to know each of their personalities and also building a relationship with the other members of staff.

What did you find most challenging?
Coping with the rainy weather! There was more free time when it rained but there was a lot less to do in the bad weather.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Be open minded and ready to get involved. You get out as much as you put in! Also do some further travelling to see more of Thailand or the local area because the orphanage is very sheltered and safe.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Why not?! It's a great experience and a great way to see the country from a perspective that many other people will not see. It also is great to put on your CV and you'll have loads of interesting stories to tell your friends to make them jealous.

Why did you choose Pod?
The website looked reliable and I liked the fact that there was a Facebook page with lots of posts from others. The telephone interview was good and it put me at ease with whether Pod was the right choice."

Rachael - 2013

"If you want to have a complete new experience and gain a taster of different culture and lifestyle then go on this project. The daily lives of these children in respect to how they live, where they live and what’s expected of them is so different to the lives we see and are used to, it's such an eye opener! I went for two weeks and I felt this was enough time there to gain a variety of experiences. At times there was a lot of hanging around with no jobs to do which was at times tedious however on reflection the experiences I have gained rule these out. I taught English in the local kindergarten, had Thai speaking lesson, watched the children Thai dance, helped with the laundry and agriculture, painted the children's bedroom visited places such as Khao Lak on my day off etc. It’s certainly an experience that makes you experience things you have and one that you will always remember. I was hesitant whether to go or not and I travelled out their alone but I would not change going and I made close relationships with the other three volunteers. I learnt a lot about myself along the way also as well as gaining an insight into the Thai lifestyle!

A typical day at the orphanage would be taking it in turns with other volunteers to get up at 6.30 am to help get the children ready for school and give them their breakfast. The volunteers would sit down between 8-8.30 and have breakfast, where the chores for the day would be given.... tended to have morning chores till lunch at half 11 when you then relaxed afterwards till 1, then you would be given afternoon chores which would take you to 3 then you would relax till the children returned home from school, from 4-half 5 you would interact with the children helping them with homework, chores or just playing with them, they showered at half 5 and you would help to dry the girls hair. We ate tea at 6 pm then the children all gathered for a meeting 7-8. Following the meeting at 8 o’clock the volunteers would give a 15minute English class to the juniors based on a project your set, mine entailed teaching them English songs such as 'leaving on a jet plane'.

What did you find most rewarding?
I found the Birthday party we put on for one of the children most rewarding. We played pass the parcel, musical chairs and pin the trunk on the elephant. The children absolutely loved it, to see them smiling and dancing so enthusiastically to music made taking part on the project so worth it!

What did you find most challenging?
I found the language barrier most challenging at times things could seem unclear and initiative was key as the communication between staff and volunteers was not always great and found myself not really knowing what was going on some of the time.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Ask the staff their as many questions about the running of the orphanage etc. as you want to know and ask for you days off or anything else you require as they won’t initiate these.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It's an opportunity you won’t get to do every day and it’s certainly a completely different experience that teaches you many things.

Why did you choose Pod?
The website looked professional and Becky the orphanage project leader was extremely helpful with my inquiries."

 Victoria - 2013

"I have had the best time here, you are welcomed into the orphanage as part of the family. They do such a good job for the kids. I have never met such a big group of kids that are constantly happy and I don't think I saw one arguement between them. I want to go back again!

What was a typical day?

Wake up about 7am, help the kids get ready for school and send them off in the truck at 7.40. When the kids are at school your doing anything from helping in the garden or kitchen, painting rooms, going to the shop for supplies, so many different options your never bored.

What did you find most rewarding?
Working with kids in the evening, helping the kids learn English. But best of all we held a party for them on our last night and the kids love to dance and make you join in too.

What did you find most challenging?
The communication between the us and local people, its quite off the beaten path so its only the staff that speak English.

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved?
It was perfect! I loved the people and the kids....I LOVE THE HOME!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Take old clothes you dont mind getting destroyed...take any little arts and crafts things with you annd some things are hard to get hold of there. Kids loved the tye dye t-shirts we made together.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
You would love every second of it...the kids have so little but are always smiling!

Why did you choose Pod?
Seemed the most professional."

Kerri - 2013

"Traveling to Thailand was the best decision I have ever made and I have taken so much back home with me, it's almost impossible to compress into such a short space. Not only did I travel with a friend and experience Thai culture in some of the biggest cities in Thailand, but I had the opportunity to stay at the orphanage in Phang Nga and make a difference in the lives of 25 children. The bond that we created is something that no one can ever take away or replace; each child and staff member has a special place in my heart forever. I have been back home in the United States for a little over 2 weeks and I have not stopped thinking about my time overseas. It has impacted me in ways I never dreamed of and not a day goes by that I don't think of the genuine people at the orphanage that became a second family to me.

A typical day included a major task such as painting the children's rooms or gardening and then playing with the kids and helping clean the home by sweeping, organizing, helping with laundry, etc.

Everyone was so accommodating and helpful; I have nothing negative to say about the experience I had while volunteering at the orphanage. I highly recommend pursuing this volunteer project - I'm already figuring out how I can go back to Thailand one day :)

What did you find most rewarding?
Making the children smile with games or activities, even jokes...Just getting to know each child's personality and seeing how they appreciate and have a passion for life.

What did you find most challenging?
A little bit of a language barrier with some staff members and many of the younger kids, but overall, the staff spoke English very well and the older kids understood a lot more than I expected. Also, some of the tasks included heavy gardening, which I wasn't prepared for but rose to the occasion and faced the challenge!

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved?
No, I was very pleased with the placement considering the poverty that exists in the area - I felt very safe and right at home.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Make the most of the experience; try to learn some Thai from the kids and staff, spend as much time with the children as possible - you will miss them when you leave. Think of something easy to travel with that you think they could use - I brought small scissors, crayons, and pencils and they were very appreciative. I just wanted to give them everything they could dream of - the kids are very creative and love arts and crafts! If you can bring extra toothbrushes, socks, or anything that you normally wouldn't think of, but it’s easy to stuff in your bag - bring it!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Volunteering abroad gives you an entirely new perspective on life -  it's not nearly the same as volunteering in your home country - that's what you know...I highly recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a chance in order to better the lives of others.

My favorite quote "Don't let your fear decide your fate" says it all - even if you are afraid, do it anyways. If you don't do it now, then when?

It's absolutely true what Pod says in the packet, "Many people are prepared to volunteer abroad, but they aren't prepared to leave." This experience will change you forever and although it cost me quite a few bucks, I don't regret a thing."

Why did you choose Pod?
I researched a few volunteer organizations that had placement overseas, but I got a good vibe from the Pod website and it was easy to access...also lots of great reviews online!

Karen - 2012

"The advice about approaching the volunteering with an open mind could not have been emphasised any more than it had been. The volunteering was so different to anything I have ever experienced. This was mainly around the extent to which the children - the majority of whom were at primary school (between 6 and 11 years) came across as being very self-sufficient and would be doing things which I wouldn’t necessarily expect them to do in the Western world. Such as, at an early hour in the morning, sweeping clean their rooms and clearing away the rubbish around the orphanage’s grounds and separating it out into what was recyclable and what wasn’t, washing up their own food plates and helping make cookies to sell at a local market. Not to mention what we would deem as hazards and would be unacceptable under our health and safety procedures, such as exposed fuse boxes in the children’s rooms and saws and other similar tools lying around the grounds. But the longer I spent at the orphanage the more I realised that this was the Thai way and that I needed to relax about it all and not worry ... but just to be aware of the potential hazards in case there was ever a need to step in. And I think this is what was appreciated. Showing that you respected and cared for the children and that you were there for them, that if they wanted a hug that you’d give them one unconditionally. 

They were such lovely children to be around. They all played well together, were happy to be there and supported and loved one another. It was quite wonderful to see. The founders of the orphanage are completely selfless in what they have set up and achieved with the children. And this was inspirational to see at first hand.

What was a typical day like?

On school days, it was an early start (and facing a cold shower if you were brave enough to do so first thing in the morning rather than later on in the day) to get the primary school children off to school (those going to high school would have got themselves up earlier at around 5.30am!). Helping to clean the cafe and prepare it for the day. Doing whatever jobs needed doing that day such as cleaning and tidying the children’s rooms, helping with the laundry (of which there was lots!), ironing, cleaning the hydroponic equipment, playing with the children when they came home from school before they had their dinner and went to bed. Usually on a Tuesday you’d go to a local kindergarten in the morning for an hour and help them with their English skills. On weekends, it would be a similar routine but there would be more interaction with the children including helping them with their English. On a Saturday afternoon you’d go to a local market with a couple of the children to sell to the many tourists, cookies and muffins which you were likely to have helped make and package with the children and the orphanage’s wonderful cook. As I was there over the Christmas and New Year period, the primary school children in particular were around the orphanage more due to school holidays which allowed for more interaction.

What did you find most rewarding?

Being warmly welcomed into their family from the moment I arrived. Being able to experience a completely different culture and helping the children with their English homework.

What did you find most challenging?

I felt at times that there was more that I could have done which sometimes left me feeling quite frustrated, but in the end I realised that everything moved at a much slower pace than it does in the Western world – partly, I guess, because the temperature was very hot! And having to be inventive about what to use to do even the simplest of jobs such as cleaning the car/van used to transport the children around. And I can’t forget the “over-friendly” mosquitoes and other biting insects.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?

Be open minded and flexible and be prepared for the plans for the day to change a few times and at short notice. Relax and enjoy the experience. And take loads of insect repellent, antihistamines (or a homeopathic travel kit which for me was indispensable) and a pot of Tiger Balm to help soothe those mosquito bites.

Why did you choose Pod?

I chose Pod because it came on recommendation from a close friend. The discussion I had with the placement manager at Pod was very helpful and particularly as it was based on her own personal experience which helped with being able to visualise what to expect. The administration of organising my placement was faultless.

Tony & Jan - 2012

"I was initially surprised by the conditions here but soon adjusted to them and realised it wasn't so bad. Although living with so little the whole team and children seemed very content and I realised that things would be so much worse without this facility. The team and children were all very friendly and loving and a pleasure to be with. I was very sad to leave and they gave us a lovely send off before we left. I will be keeping in touch with them and will follow their process and hope to return one day. Thanks for a great experience!

What was an average day like?
An early start to get the kids off to school followed by breakfast in the coffee shop. After that the day would vary, helping out with whatever needed found - cleaning, painting, building gardening. Lunch at midday and the kids back at about 4 so helping out with homework and interacting with them. Dinner at 6 and then getting the kids off to be at 8 and making sure the boys brushed their teeth!

What did you find most rewarding?

Being with the kids especially the friendship and affection they showed, but any help we could give was rewarding.

What did you find most challenging?
Not always having the right tools for the job. A fair bit of improvisation needed!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Take some old clothes as you may be doing anything from painting to mixing cement, plastering or gardening so you will get mucky!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Because you can - we have so much in our modern money based lives. It doesn't take too much and you'll be helping at very practical level and will find the rewards immense.

Why did you choose Pod?
I read an article in the Guardian and liked what I was on the website."

Anonymous - 2012

"This was not just my first time volunteering, but my first time anywhere in Asia too. Travelling by myself I was a little nervous once the plane landed, and not quite sure what I had gotten myself into. However, as soon as the orphanage picked me up I felt instantly welcomed and was well looked after throughout my entire stay. All the adults working at the orphanage were incredibly thoughtful, generous and helpful, and always made me feel at home. The children were no different. They are incredibly friendly, funny and happy. I never experienced any problems with them, and felt very appreciated throughout the whole stay. I wouldn't say the stay was easy, but once you adjust to life out there it becomes a real pleasure and something you'll always look back on fondly.

What is a typical day at the project?

Wake up early and help the adults get the kids off to school. Have some breakfast and then work till lunch. Every day the work was different and varied according to the needs of the orphanage. After lunch continue with work until the kids get back, and then help them with homework or join them for an activity. Have dinner, help the adults out the children to bed and then go to sleep yourself.

What did you find most rewarding?
Experiencing a different culture in one of the most full-on ways you can. I learnt (some of) their language, customs and history far faster than I would have ever done so anywhere else.

What did you find most challenging?
The environment was challenging in terms of dealing with aggressive insect life, loud jungle noises at night, limited clean water and cold showers. Now I'm back though, I relish those experiences.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Double whatever quantity of insect spray you're bringing! You'll want to refresh it a couple of times a day to make sure you don't get bitten too much. Also bring antihistamines if you can, as you need a prescription to buy them in Thailand otherwise.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
You get to help people who need it, deserve it, and appreciate it. It's a great way to travel either alone or with someone else, and it'll be an experience no-one can take away from you.

Why did you choose Pod?
I wanted to have a UK-based agency I could talk to you. It added security to me that if it had been fraudulent in some way, I'd have been able to act through UK based channels to get my money back or administer criminal proceedings."

Sheila - 2012

"Many people have told me that they have always thought about volunteering but never know what to expect and whether the advertisement of the placements are genuine. Although I understand the uncertainty, it is really a lifetime experience to volunteer at least once and if possible, more times! The pleasure of being able to help is immense, whether it is the everyday household chores or teaching, and it is absolutely a joy to interact with the children, who may seem less fortunate in terms of having the latest gadgets or following the latest trends, but in reality, they are one of the happiest and friendliest people I have come across.

I really enjoyed my time at the Orphanage in Thailand. The children seem very happy, independent and are very well behaved, polite and resilient. The 'staff' are very friendly and would help with anything you need. The accommodation was good and comfortable, although cold showers are quite challenging! The food was wonderful and I would highly recommend anyone to try this experience.

We would take turns to wake up early in preparation of the kids for school. Then some room cleaning, laundry, ironing or helping to cook. Help with English at the local school and provincial office. Help the children with the homework after school before having dinner and relaxing/playing with the kids. Finally ensure the children go to bed on time!

What did you find most rewarding?
Teaching the kids English and communicating with them. Also being able to help with the everyday activities to lessen their workload.

What did you find most challenging?
Cold showers and mosquitoes!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Take the initiative to help, have patience and energy, be creative and bring lots of insect repellent! :)

Why did you choose Pod?
I felt the staff were very professional and responsive. The website was informative regarding the placement and I would recommend Pod to whoever would like to volunteer."

Hannah - 2012

“I really enjoyed my time at the orphanage in Thailand, and would definitely go back and visit if I get the chance. All the staff and children were very friendly and welcoming, and I got to do/see many things I wouldn't have been able to do had I been travelling alone. I would highly recommend this project to anyone who is hard-working and would like the chance to experience a different culture away from the general tourist areas. It’s one of the most rewarding things I've ever done and I had the best month in Thailand getting to know this 'family' and exploring the local surroundings.

What was your typical day like?
Every day would be different, and weekends very different to weekdays, but generally I would get up at half 7 most days to open up the coffee shop, apart from 1 day a week when its half 6 to help the kids get ready for school. Work starts at 9am, this could be generally helping around the orphanage, washing, tidying kids rooms, ironing, washing the car etc. after that I would chill out until lunch, then after lunch either have a Thai lesson or teach some villagers English or do a 'project'.

What did you find most rewarding?
I found that being with the children and seeing them play with me most rewarding, they're all so happy and friendly.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Be prepared to plan activities and games for the children, they love playing football or dancing to the ‘YMCA’ so it doesn't have to be elaborate!”

Jessica - 2012

“My time at the orphanage was very rewarding, from the moment I arrived the staff and children welcomed me into their family. There is no distinction between volunteers and the family. I found the orphanage to be very comfortable and the living conditions were much better than I had envisioned. The staff members are excellent in communicating and speaking English. Bay and Bomm were excellent at supporting us and making the best out of our time there. I learned a lot about the Thai culture and myself as well. The children are very humble, respectful and of course silly. I enjoyed tickling and playing with the younger ones and talking with the older kids. I really enjoyed teaching the children English. They really enjoyed when I used some educational apps on my iPad. The children are well provided for and I hope the best for their futures with support of the orphanage.

Each day begins by opening the coffee shop at 7:30. The children would already be off to school. The volunteers would eat breakfast and then at 9:00 the daily chores begin. Each day could be different but chores I helped with were gardening, cleaning the kids rooms, cleaning the facilities, painting and laundry. Some of the work was not easy and it was very hot out so plan accordingly. Most days we would have a Thai lesson with Bay. The kids return home around 4. They do homework and play until it is time to shower before dinner. After dinner, the kids play and then most nights they have a meeting. On the weekends, we would go on a trip to the beach or plan games since they are home all day. They would also have movie nights. You need to be prepared to be flexible and willing to help with whatever is asked. It was not always the same and most days you are working all day.

I found connecting with the children the most rewarding part but the hardest part was the language barrier and saying goodbye to a child who says they love you and you are leaving.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Be prepared to be open and flexible. Their culture is different and be prepared to accept that as it is. Bring lots of bug spray!”

Sam - 2012

“We are both really loving spending our time here! It took us a day to settle in and work out how things work etc, but we now feel part of the family. We have been kept very busy doing a variety of activities.  We have been to the beach with the kids, played with them and helped out with some homework and English lessons.  When the kids have been at school we have been either doing some chores around the orphanage or helping out in the kitchen.  We have also been helping to build a wall and to paint the newly constructed bakery which has been hard work during the mid-day sun!

Next week we are hopefully going into the school to help with an English lesson, which we are both looking forward to.  The kids and staff here have been really welcoming and are great to be around, they have so much energy. It’s been great getting to know them all. There are several other volunteers here as well, which has been lovely. Our first week has flown by and I think we will be sad to leave next week!”

Natalie - 2011

“I found this placement so rewarding, it's amazing how happy these children can be when they have so little, and they each have their own personalities. Every child was so polite and grateful. Every single child made you feel welcomed - and they each would come out of their shells at different times. So each day you would get to know a different child - and their quirks. Definitely a good project to be a part of.

What did you find most rewarding?
Watching the children have fun - doing the simplest of things. Also spending the evenings with them, and have them teach us Thai after we'd been helping them with their homework.

What did you find most challenging?
I found the language barrier hard - when children became close to you. The fact you couldn't speak to them when they were upset was hard - but I managed to find ways through colouring and drawing pictures to cheer them up.

Rose - 2011

“My time in the orphanage in Phang Nga in Thailand was a fantastic experience; I will remember the time I spent there for the rest of my life. The children and adults who work there could not be more kind and generous; within hours of arriving the children were playing with me, asking for pigg-backs and chasing me round the garden! It was like they had known me for years! This project is good for a first-time experience as the orphanage is not at all dilapidated and we lived in comfort. The children are well fed and go to school, there is internet access, showers (albeit with only cold water) and transport. If you want a hardcore poverty-stricken placement this is not for you, but if, like me, you want to experience Thai culture, get to know some wonderful children and basically have an 'adventure', this placement would be perfect.

What is a typical day at the project?
Weekends and weekdays are very different. The children get up at 6am on a weekday (or earlier), no one tells volunteers to get up but I usually set my alarm so I could help out with chores before the children leave for school at 8 - serving breakfast, sweeping leaves and helping set up the bakery. While the children are at school there isn't much to do, laundry is a big task which takes a lot of time, but other than that there isn't much until the kids get in from school. Take a good book with you! However, on the weekend you may go with the children to the local temple or beach, or learn to make banana bread! When I was there I borrowed the children's bikes, and rode to the Lumpee Waterfall for the afternoon. That was AMAZING; we swam in the river directly beneath the waterfall, it was absolutely beautiful. I also accompanied the staff to the local shopping centre, and went for a little walk myself during the day. When the children are at home time is spent playing with them, talking English with the older children, occasionally helping to cook meals, and tidying/cleaning.

What did you find most rewarding?
Talking to the children, and just generally experiencing a totally different culture. Thai people are so friendly and respectful, and Thai food is so good!

What did you find most challenging?
The weather - I went in monsoon season and there was really bad flooding. It rained constantly for the first week but with hindsight it just added to the experience. The language barrier could be difficult but mostly we coped fine, using actions and a mixture of Thai and English words. I learnt a few useful phrases, most importantly 'abnam' which we would yell at the top of our voices (it means 'shower time'!)

 What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Email Pod in advance and ask them if they need anything - I brought lots of pens and pencils but they had plenty of these already. Also, bring books or other things to do with yourself during the day; if you have a laptop bring it as there is free wireless. Ensure you bring conservative clothing - Thai's don't wear vest tops or anything shorter than knee length. Don't waste money on a rabies jab - they don't have rabies in this region, nor malaria. But bring mosquito spray and some sort of anti-itch cream for bites. You really don't need much money at all if you are just staying at the orphanage; I spent less than £30 in two weeks. Plan English lessons and games in advance, and bring the stuff you will need to put these in place.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It will teach you about another culture, introduce you to amazing people and give you a new view on what is important in life.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
Pod look after you at all stages of the project so you feel very safe and it is nice to know you won't be left alone if anything goes wrong. I would recommend them to others.”

Olivia - 2011

“Working at the orphanage was one of the most amazing experiences. Everyone there is so welcoming that it feels like you are joining a family straight away. The love care and warmth that Rosa and Root provide for everyone that lives there is touching and truly shows the extent of human compassion. The children are wonderful and intelligent and above all are happy to be part of a family once again. I would really recommend this project to anyone who is thinking of volunteering abroad and I hope to return as soon as I can, I only wish that I had stayed longer!

Please describe a typical day at the project
During the day whilst the children were at school we helped around the orphanage in manual labour. We did the washing, cleaning, ironing, construction, helped in the bakery, learnt to cook thai food and any other jobs that needed help. 2 days a week we went to the school to help teach english which was so fun to see the difference in education. When the children came home from school we taught them english, helped with homework and played games with the children. On the weekend we went out with the children such as the beach or to Buddhist temples.

What did you find most rewarding?
I found that teaching the children was the most rewarding aspect of the volunteering as the children were so keen to learn. At the same time we could learn Thai!

What did you find most challenging?
At first the language barrier seemed the most challenging aspect of the project however as the days went on we realised that this became less important. When interacting with the children actions, facial expressions and games proved just as important!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Bring lots of insect repellent as there are many mosquitoes in the evening!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
If you want an experience that is both fulfilling but also fun then this orphanage is definitely the right place.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
I searched the internet for non-profit organisations and this one seemed both professional and adventurous.”

 Phoebe - 2011

"My time at the orphanage was definitely eye opening for me. It helped me to see how another family and another culture completely, lived. I learnt a lot whilst I was there, in a way that I couldn't have learnt in any other way. The staff were so welcoming and the work they do there is amazing. I left feeling as if I wanted to tell the whole world about what they do so that they can catch a break and finally do all of the things they want to do. It was great meeting and getting to know the children and I formed close bonds with lots of them so it was very sad for me to leave. They are such happy children and they do have a great life, its amazing how much you can communicate without speech! I think if you are interested in making a difference to these people and this orphanage and would like to see how another family and culture live then this is the project for you.

I found interacting with the children the most rewarding experience of my time at the orphanage. Without speech and the same language it is very hard to communicate but sometimes you dont need speech. That really amazed me and I loved messing around with them saying the odd thai word mixed with a few English words.

You should definitely volunteer abroad because you learn so much about how other people live and it broadens your mind without you even realising it. You learn so much about a different way of life and you learn so much about yourself too. Its completely out of most peoples comfort zones which is why its good, you gain more self confidence too!

Laura - 2011

"I had what I can only describe as an absolutely incredible experience at the orphanage in Thailand. I was nervous about going there that they would be a 'tight knit' family, due to it being a relatively small orphanage and I wouldn't fit in, but I couldn't have been more wrong. I was so welcomed and made to feel like a new member of the family as the children were so friendly and an absolute pleasure to be around. I feel very lucky and honoured to have been a part of something so special and hope to go back soon.

What is a typical day at the project?
The children go to school and from about 8am - 3pm and in that time you may be given a project to do. These were things to help the orphanage and in my time there I cleaned, tidied, worked in the garden building signs, making cement, digging and on 'market days' I would also help in the bakery to make the cakes. However, if there was no specific jobs that needed doing the owner was very happy for volunteers to spend a couple of hours at the nearby beach. When the children got home they would sometimes play in the river by the orphanage, do their homework, painting, card games and it was up to you what you wanted to get involved in. Evening meal was around 6pm and after that the children are normally in the activity room where they finish their homework and then enjoy looking at books with volunteers, where the children love to learn English words. When it is time for bed you ensure all children have brushed their teeth and then spend the rest of the evening with the adults at the orphanage. At the weekends or days the children weren’t at school we would normally go on a day trip to the beach or the local waterfall where we would stay for most of the day playing with the children.

What did you find most rewarding?
I found being with the children incredibly rewarding in itself. I loved spending time with them, playing games, teaching them English words, singing, dancing and having fun. They made me appreciate my life in England so much more than they will ever know. I will definitely be going back in hopefully the not to distant future and would love to see how they’ve all grown.

What did you find most challenging?
The most challenging bit would have been the language barrier, which for most of the time was not even an issue. I found it quite entertaining at times to try and describe what you meant using facial expressions and hand gestures. Although if it ever got too tough there was an adult there who spoke both English and Thai and would always help to translate what you were trying to say to the children if necessary. It was also quite a challenge trying to get used to eating so much rice and noodles!

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved?
I thought the placement was amazing and I am in awe of the incredible work they are doing over there and therefore wouldn't want to interfere by changing anything that they are currently doing.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Fantastic experience, I would recommend it to everyone. Don't think you're not brave enough, might not enjoy it, not sure if it's for you, just do it - best thing I ever did.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Definitely!

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
I chose Pod as I found them on the internet and saw they had a lot of followers on Facebook and that a lot of people had recommended them. I have already recommended my friend to go with Pod as I felt they were very helpful in helping me to organise my trip."

Tara - 2011

"My time with the orphanage was by far the highlight of my trip! The kids are absolutely fantastic....I miss them soooo much!

What is a typical day at the project?
The days vary - just whatever needs doing at the time. Sometimes construction work, gardening, teaching the kids different skills, going to the local school to help out with classes, etc etc!

What did you find most rewarding?
Every aspect of my time there was rewarding!

What did you find most challenging?
The heat!

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved?
I hope the orphanage can raise enough money to build the restaurant they were thinking about.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Just keep an open mind. Also, don’t expect your day to be filled from 8am til 5pm! Thai people are very laid back. It’s strange how you need to learn to chill!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
An amazing experience - you get to live with people from that country which is a great cultural experience!

Lynsey and Fraser - 2010

"We were blown away by our experience at the orphanage. The warmth and generosity of the children and staff was overwhelming and humbling especially given we were only there for a week. The kids are the most endearing I have come across and it was with a heavy heart that we had to leave. We most definitely hope to return as it exceeded our expectations in every way. The placement gave a great insight into Thai culture and provided us with a broad range of experiences from helping in the bakery, taking the children to the beach, to building tables and celebrating a birthday with a traditional pan BBQ. Amazing..if you get the chance, do it! Many thanks to Beth and the Team."

What is a typical day at the project?
There was no typical day as we did a variety of tasks on a day to day basis. This included anything from; teaching English at the school, baking, building, playing games with the kids or taking them to the beach.

What did you find most rewarding?
Being able to build a relationship with the children in such a short space of time despite the language barrier. The children have the most amazing personalities and were so warm and loving towards us within such a short space of time..a special experience.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
You need to be open minded and used to the outdoors. There are lots of weird and wonderful bugs, no hot water and some rather unpleasant smells. But they pale into insignificance when you meet the children.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It all adds to life experience, something you will never forgot and talk about for years to come. It's the sense of doing something worthwhile and it certainly puts things into perspective. We've donated money to orphanage instead of exchanging Christmas presents. A must do experience for everybody!

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
It was very last minute and we weren't sure whether any placements would accommodate us for only a week so it was by chance we came across Pod on a google search and it was the first one we applied to. We have already recommended Pod to friends and family."

Ashley - 2010

"I had such an amazing time at the orphanage in Thailand. I highly recommend it to everyone. Everyone was so lovely and welcoming and made me feel like part of the family. I can't wait to go back and visit next year to see how all the children are progressing!"

What is a typical day at the project?
I woke up to a beautiful breakfast of freshly cooked muffins and bread. Then I would help out during the day with whatever I could. Usually its manual labour, like helping build a wall or a new area for the children. A couple of days I went to the school with the children and helped them in their english class. When school was over the children came back to the orphanage and I played with them and spent time with them before having dinner. Lunch and dinner is always delicious, the food is amazing! After dinner I helped out with homework and played for a little while more before going to bed.

What did you find most rewarding?
Everyone at the orphanage was so grateful for whatever I did which really inspired me. Even if I only did something as small as helping with homework, the children were so happy when it was complete it made me feel like I really was making a difference. I put in a lot of effort when doing manual labour jobs, it was so hot and i was sweating profusely but I kept on going until the job was done and I was so proud of myself when the job was finished. Building is something I'd never do at home so doing that for someone else who is worse off than I am was very rewarding and I now know I am capable of making concrete from scratch, mixing it up and building a wall!

What did you find most challenging?
I found the language barrier the most challenging part of the whole experience. The children knew very little English so during the first week I was questioning whether or not I wanted to be there and if I could help at all. The staff spoke near perfect English and they were so comforting and helpful towards me that after 2 weeks I didn't want to leave! Everyone is so caring and I learnt that even though we don’t speak the same language, we still care for each other and can become a family.

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved?
I think the placement was near perfect!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Anyone and everyone who is considering doing something like this, do it! I believe everyone should volunteer overseas at least once in their life, its so rewarding and amazing.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
You learn so much about others and about yourself. This has been something I always wanted to do but I never thought I could because of money and because I wasn’t sure how I would go travelling overseas by myself. This is affordable and rewarding. I had no trouble being by myself, everyone was so helpful and friendly you forget that your so far away from your family. Everyone needs to do this at least once in your life. I feel I have grown so much from helping others.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?
I chose Pod because it was affordable and because most of the money goes towards the project you are travelling too. Other companies charge a lot of money and none of it goes towards at the people who need it the most.

Any other comments?
Thank you so much! Especially to Beth from Pod who helped me organise my trip. She was so helpful and caring, and really made sure everything was perfect before I left, while I was there, and after I returned."

Dino - 2010

"A really enjoyable and varied placement. It was a great opportunity to help out at a very worthwhile project and to meet some wonderful local people. It's worth trying to learn even 1 or 2 phrases in Thai beforehand, as people really appreciate it.

After the kids had gone to school, the rest of the morning and early afternoon was sent helping out on one of the projects at the orphanage (ether helping with construction, working in the garden where they grow their own vegetables and herbs or the baking which they sell to provide some income). After the children return from school around 3.30pm, a few hours are spent with them, playing with them, helping them get ready for the next day and helping with their homework. There is some flexibility; for example an afternoon could be spent relaxing at the local waterfall or a morning spent going to the market with the cook.

The fact that even though I was only here for 1 week, I felt that I was able to contribute, both during the day on the construction projects and also later on with the children. Helping them with their maths was particularly enjoyable, given their enthusiasm for it.

It's a great opportunity to develop personally and experience things you may not otherwise get a chance to do. It also provides a better feel of local life than a regular holiday. It's also a great feeling when you know that you have put a smile on someone's face!"

Rachel - 2010

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the orphanage in Thailand! The children were full of life and laughter and made my experience what it was. Brilliant food and accommodation, both of which made the stay that little bit easier, as it can be a daunting prospect arriving in a foreign country by yourself! I was involved in various projects, anything from teaching English in schools, building, helping with daily chores and of course keeping the children entertained! All in all a brilliant experience and one that I wont forget!

I really loved teaching English to the kids in the orphanage and in the schools. In particular, one of the elder girls wanted to get into the hotel industry and so needed to improve her English language. I spent quite a lot of time with her doing role plays and speaking English. Knowing i was helping with something that would ultimately better her future was really rewarding.

It is definitely a worthy experience, not only for personal growth and development but being able to see another culture from the inside rather than as a tourist. Similarly, the benefit you can bring to another community makes it worthwhile in itself."

Janine - 2010

"It is so amazing here. Everybody is just so friendly and nice and I feel good!

Great experience and everybody is just part of the life there. Good chance to see different things and cultures.

Would you recommend Pod to others? Yes I would!"

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Children's Home - Vietnam - Volunteer reviews

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Antony - 2015

"How would you describe a typical day volunteering at the Children’s Home in Vietnam?

The first lesson runs from 0800 to about 1030. There is a long gap until 1400 when the second lesson starts. The "rest room" is basic so it is a long walk (or cycle) to the nearby town. Finish at 1600. The teaching itself has to be aimed towards the lower level of the class so the challenge was to engage the whole class.

What did you find most rewarding?
It was always great to get a concept across. For example using a compass to demonstrate directions and linking it to weather eg North = cold. Then with the older group comparatives (hotter, colder etc.). The pleasure the children got from understanding and demonstrating their Newfound English skills was rewarding.

What did you find most challenging?
Having an excitable ten year old and a "too cool for school" seventeen year old in the same class presented obvious challenges.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Be prepared to innovate. Accept that conditions for locals are basic as they will be for you.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Volunteering is an obvious way of putting something back into either the communities or environment that you are travelling through.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Good pre-placement support

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends? Yes"

Robin and Rory - 2015

“How would you describe a typical day volunteering at the Children’s Home in Vietnam?
Our day would start at 8am. The first class had between 8 to 12 children ranging from ages of 11 to 18 years.

They were keen to learn but had a varied level of English comprehension. We would start with conversation as we found that most of the kids had the words and earnings but did not have the confidence for holding and maintaining conversation, they found this challenging. We would then start our daily topic for the lesson and end with a fun activity. The lessons ran for two hours so at 10am, we went back to our hotel and would utilise this time for the lesson planning for the following day. The second class started at 2pm and went until 4pm, with these kids having a larger gap in understanding within this class and also a few of the boys needing supervision. We found this class more challenging.

But we felt that any help to further their education was of some assistance for them.

What did you find most rewarding?
When the children were learning and really switched into the lesson. The children themselves.

What did you find most challenging?
Having such a different level of English understood within the one class. Some of the children were quite advanced and some did not know the basics. It was challenging to make a lesson that could accommodate for all the levels within the one class.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Be prepared for the different levels of English being understood within the one class. Take quite a lot of lesson planning equipment and materials with you so as to be as organised as possible.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
To be able to volunteer abroad is a privilege. The help that you are able to give may be for only a short amount of time but any help is gratefully accepted by the children.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
The website was well presented and we were able to spend two weeks at the placement.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends? Yes”

Fiona - 2014

“I very much enjoyed my time in Vietnam. The work was at times challenging but overall it was a great experience where I met some wonderful people including the children themselves, other volunteers, staff at the home and the accommodation as well as locals in the surrounding area.

I felt well supported throughout and was most impressed with information and organisation skills from Pod. I chose to stay for 6 weeks and upon reflection I think this was a wise choice as it enabled me to get to know the children well and gain their trust. Vietnam is a wonderful country and I will always look back with fond memories of a beautiful country and a welcome and friendly race of people.

How would you describe a typical day volunteering at the Children’s Home in Vietnam?
We cycled to the orphanage to arrive at 8am then sometimes watched the children while they took part in the morning assembly then taught the younger class for about an hour and a half before they went for lunch and we would cycle into the nearest town for our lunch and sometimes plan for the next class. then we would often lie down for perhaps an hour or so while the children had a rest period before teaching an older class in the afternoon. Often some of the children would enjoy talking and playing with us in between classes and at the beginning and the end of the day.

What did you find most rewarding?
The teaching and the getting to know the children. They have a wonderful sense of humour and we had plenty of fun times. They are well looked after and the staff work hard to maintain a certain amount of discipline with each child having chores to do throughout the day. I found it most rewarding when the children would be listening and interested in what was being said.

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved?
With regard to the above myself and a fellow volunteer Helen and I ran a couple of classes on anti-bullying which seemed to be a success. The end of term concert was wonderful but perhaps would have been nice to have invited locals or older residents to enjoy too as the children had put so much effort into singing and dancing etc. Again I felt the small group of special needs children could have played a part in it also.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Prepare before you go or have rough ideas of class themes. A picture dictionary was invaluable. Have templates with you as we discovered a place in town where we could photocopy and print. They loved a particular book on general knowledge that I found and took with me. A system that I found worked well was teaching a particular topic in the morning to the younger ones and staying on the same subject for the older ones but adapting it to make it more advanced. I found myself to be the only volunteer for one week but thankfully this occurred after I had been there for 3 weeks so knew my way around but found life easier when I was joined by another volunteer for the last two weeks of my placement.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Its hard at first to break out of your comfort zone but fascinating to witness another culture and you feel as if you really have achieved something worthwhile when you reflect upon the experience once home. The memories of it all will last a lifetime and I will always think about the children that I met and hope they gained something from me as I did from having the privilege to teach them.

Why did you choose Pod?
Friendly supportive staff who you knew you could count on prior and during the placement. The information provided was excellent and accurate.”

Elizabeth - 2014

"My experience at the Children’s Home in Vietnam has far exceeded my highest expectations.

Prior to leaving the information I received from Pod is clear and direct.  Your information guided me step by step through the somewhat complicated process of the paperwork that needed to be done to go on this trip - very good on all counts.

My experience at the Children’s Home in Vietnam exceeded my best expectations.  The Students were bright, well behaved, had a good background in English and a strong desire to learn.  My experience at the center was enhanced by my stay at Cao Son in Suoi Hai.  During my time here and on my bike ride back and forth to the center I experienced Vietnam and the wonderful Vietnamese people in a manner I feel would have been impossible as a tourist.

Working with the students and connecting with them was my most rewarding experience.  These kids, young adults, have a good written command of the English language.  However their speaking abilities are not good at all.  Getting them to open up and attempt to say the words was challenging and in turn rewarding.

Like many classrooms the gap between the good students and the poor students was big.  It was challenging to keep the good students engaged while maintaining order and perhaps even teaching some of the disinterested students.  This class would be best taught with two teachers:  one to work with the advanced students and one to deal with the others.  

There are no supplies available to volunteer teachers.  That needs to be stressed. 

Supply list:
Things you need to bring from home
Chalk- the thick kind--given the climate chalk disintegrates here
Music- they are teens: they love listening to all types of music; music (separate device from iPhone) and a small battery operated speaker
Camera - again separate from IPhone
Pictures of home - they love looking at family photos- funny photos etc.
Magazines - the kids love looking at magazines; fashion magazines, sports magazines, travel etc.  These can be purchased in Vietnam but are 2x the price.

Things you can buy in Hanoi
Paper - plain white unlined paper for drawing
Pencils - Lots of pencils
Pencil sharpener - don't forget this one
Art supplies - water color sets, colored pencils
STICKERS-LOTS AND LOTS OF STICKERS!
All of the above can be purchased in the old quarter of Hanoi.  

Books: there are good bookstores in Hanoi here you can find:
- Books written in English and Vietnamese.  The kids loved The Chicken Soup for the Soul series.  
- Early readers and comic books English/Vietnamese.  
- Flash cards

The orientation and support I received from Tung on arrival at the project was fantastic.  My guide, Toan Hoang, was great.  Knowing they were there if I was to encounter a problem as a source of comfort.

As you can surmise this has been a great experience for me.  Thanks so much for your part."

Michelle - 2013

“I loved my time at the Orphanage in Vietnam, the children were amazing. I hope to go back some day.

How would you describe your typical day teaching at the orphanage in Vietnam?
Morning class with the children then a break and then afternoon class. The children speak very good English, it is best if you prepare lesson plans before you come away do you can print off worksheets at home so you can bring them with you.

What did you find most rewarding?
The love and appreciation from the children and the passion they showed in learning English.

What did you find most challenging?
Nothing really, the children were a delight to teach.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Just to enjoy every minute of the experience because it's over too soon.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It's such a rewarding experience helping others.

Why did you choose Pod?
Friendly staff.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes”

Anna - 2013

“Volunteering as a teacher was a new experience for me so I really didn't know what to expect but my time in Vietnam was fantastic. The teaching was hard work but the enthusiasm from the children made it really good fun. I had a really great local tour guide for the first few days which helped me get acquainted with the area and also learn a lot about the country. Cycling to and from the project was also a nice way to see the area without feeling like too much of a tourist. There was time at weekends to do the tourist thing either by exploring the nearby national park or heading back to Hanoi.

How would you describe a typical day the orphanage project in Vietnam?
Teaching in the morning was between 8am and 10am. This tended to be a younger group, maybe around age ten and slightly older, or those less advance in English. Then during lunch you could either cycle to the local supermarket, back to the hotel or stay at the centre for lunch where there is room for a snooze. The afternoon session was between 2pm and 4pm. This was an older group, up to 17 or those more advanced in English. In the evenings we met up and went to a local family run restaurant and occasionally for a beer at a local bar afterwards.

What did you find most rewarding?
The enthusiasm of the children and when we managed to devise lessons that made the laugh and they were engaged in; so they were learning without being bored.

What did you find most challenging?
The heat - I have been to humid climates before but had forgotten how draining this can be. Recommend drinking lots of water and taking a rest during the middle of the day when it is hottest.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
I would really recommend this placement and visiting Vietnam, it is a wonderful country. Go prepared with lesson ideas but be aware that you will need to adapt your plans as you go. The students already know a lot of English words and phrases so get bored quickly. The main thing I noticed is they are not always confident to speak or hold a conversation. One example of a lesson that worked well to overcome this was to pretend their favourite celebrity was coming and they had to interview them; thinking first of the questions and then carrying out the interview. I also wrote stories with missing words (sometimes with several options for the missing word), to copy, complete and read aloud. Resources such as chalk, pens and pictures can be purchased in Hanoi on arrival or in the local supermarket, so don't worry about packing you suitcase with too much from home. They also liked team games, such as variations on Pictionary or charades and rewards such as stickers and sweets for those that participate went down well. Like all teenagers they love pop stars, footballers and the girls make-up. So any samples or pictures will make them very happy. There is not a lot to do in the local area near the placement so bring plenty of books. If you want a relaxing weekend/time you will be fine but if you want more activity you may be bored. I actually chose to go back to Hanoi and on a trip for the middle weekend of my stay and this suited me perfectly. One volunteer who was staying longer actually had a laptop which was shared for movie nights!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It is a great way to see another country and understand the culture without just being there as a tourist.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes. I wanted to make sure I chose a company that was non-profit and did thorough checks of volunteers, as Pod does; to ensure the interests of the placement and the people at the placement came first.”

Caroline - 2013

“Just got back from the Vietnam project. It was an absolutely amazing experience. We got/had to cycle from the guesthouse to the orphanage which is a 6km cycle. I was so hesitant on cycling but it was so enjoyable when I did it :) All the people you meet on the road are so friendly and always say hello!

How would you descibe a typical day at the orphanage in Vietnam?

Our day at the orphanage! We arrived each day and all the volunteers stayed in the classroom to help the children with English as some were really finding it difficult and needed 1:1. the classes start at 8am and finish at 10am. You have a 4 hour lunch break in which you can get lunch at the orphanage/go back to the guesthouse/go to the supermarket which is about 3km cycle from the orphanage. You have a sleep room at the orphanage where you can go for a sleep if you want. The afternoon class starts at 2pm and finishes at 4pm. The morning class are the older class which range in age from about 15-17 years and the afternoon class are younger, they are about 6/7 to 17 years.

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing the children happy when they completed something they were meant to.

What did you find most challenging?
Teaching the class, as we didn’t know what to expect and the level of English that the children are at are all different.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
You will be focusing mainly on teaching. If you can get stuff printed before you go and bring them with you. The children loved word searches, bingo, colouring and stickers :)

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
I think others should volunteer as you feel so good after doing it and you can make a difference to a child’s life in such a short amount of time, give them memories they will keep.

Why did you choose Pod?
It seemed the most reasonable organisation.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes”

Caroline and Ian - 2013

“My husband and I were very nervous about volunteering at an orphanage, and had to emotionally prepare ourselves for what we might see. So, imagine our surprise when we arrived to find that the kids were...well...kids! They were smart, funny, hardworking, and the orphanage kept them on a structured and engaging schedule. Of course there were many kids from very rough backgrounds, but they warmed to us more quickly than I would have expected. Our primary job was to teach English for just 4 hours a day, and because the kids were so independent we did indeed have a lot of free time - at first I worried this meant we weren't making a difference, but after a few days I realized it was a GOOD thing that the kids were so independent! I will look back at this experience with fond memories for years to come, and would definitely volunteer through Pod again.

How would you describe a typical day that the orphanage in Vietnam?
Teaching English from 8-10am, break from 10am-2pm (!), teaching English from 2pm-4pm. Immediately after our teaching sessions, we would usually play with the younger kids for about 30 minutes (they loved playing ball, rock-paper-scissors, thumb wars, running around screaming, etc) until the kids went on to their next activity.

What did you find most rewarding?
The bonds formed with many of the children.

What did you find most challenging?
The behavioral issues of some of the children who came from rough backgrounds - although this was an expected challenge so I'm definitely not complaining about it.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It is important to understand the issues other cultures face, and makes a person more balanced. Plus, it is an opportunity to visit a part of the world you might otherwise never see.

Why did you choose Pod?
We knew we wanted to volunteer at an orphanage, but were concerned that if we didn't book through a reputable company (ie, tried to arrange it on our own), we would find ourselves at an orphanage that didn't provide basic care or honor human rights (from our reading, quite a problem in Vietnam and Cambodia). A friend of mine used to work at the Bear Rescue in Cambodia and this recommended Pod.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes”

Rachel - 2013

"Thank you so much for all your help in allowing me to volunteer in Vietnam. I had such a wonderful experience and those of whom I have talked to about it notices that too. The accommodations were great and the staff was especially very helpful making my stay comfortable. The food was so delicious and boy do they prepare a lot to eat! The scenery was beautiful and I enjoyed hanging out at the two cafes across the street. The orphanage is well kept and the students were very friendly. I hope that the other volunteers and I were able to help the students at least in a small way to improve their English skills. I found it was a great experience to be a part of and would not have changed it for the world. I would encourage others to volunteer to go to Vietnam also.

How would you describe a typical day at the orphanage?

I worked 1.5 hours in the morning with the older students improving their English and then worked another 1.5 hours in the afternoon helping the beginners with vocabulary and small sentences.

What did you find most rewarding?

Just being there helping students with their English skills was rewarding. It was great seeing how the beginners were picking up on vocabulary and wanting to learn more words.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?

Know strategies in teaching English to vary the class time, especially games that will have them improving their listening and writing skills. Also, really good stickers for the beginners to encourage participation. LOTS of chalk--at least one box for every one and a half week being there especially if you want to encourage students to write on the board. Bring pictures too or at least a really good Vietnamese-English dictionary to help them know what the word is.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?

Volunteering allows one to be a part of another culture while giving back. It is a win-win situation for everyone. Obviously, it helps the locals but it also helps the volunteer experience another way of living and thinking for a few weeks. I would much rather volunteer than stay at a beach resort or just sight-see. I feel the experience is much richer volunteering than just being a tourist.

Why did you choose Pod?

I wanted to volunteer in Vietnam and was looking at a few programs. The information given on the website really help SELL the program as trustworthy and organized. I also loved the fact that it is non-profit which makes me feel the staff are truly caring people and not just interested in profiting for their shareholders.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?

Yes"

Anne and Pamola (15 years old) - 2013

“We were pleased to be part of this programme that helps give a future to the children in the Tay Dang centre. It was also a very good way to get a taste of part of the 'real' Vietnam (beyond the tourist sites), while also giving something to the community.

How would you describe a typical day at the orphanage?
Rode bicycles from hotel to the centre in the morning. Taught the older group of students from 8:30 to 10:00. Went back to the hotel for lunch and to prepare for the afternoon. Back to the centre to teach the younger ones from 14:30 to 16:00. We also occasionally went into the baby room (where in fact there was only one baby). In the evenings, we worked on the lesson plan for the next morning.

What did you find most rewarding?
When the kids 'got' the materials we were presenting.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Although there are other things going on in the centre what they want volunteers to do is teach English. Volunteers need to see this as their main task and come with sufficient materials and ideas to be able to teach 90 minute mixed-level classes; in the younger group, many of the kids have only a very, very limited vocabulary in English so picture vocabulary books and an English-Vietnamese dictionary are highly recommended.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
To broaden their own experiences while giving something to others.

Why did you choose Pod?

We got to Pod via the Responsible Travel site. Of the many projects we considered on that site, this seemed to be the most suitable for the two of us. It involved some real work (not just a token effort to justify a holiday), yet was in a location that seemed to be comfortable.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes."

Emma - 2013

“I had an experience that I won't forget. The project was great, and I felt my time there was appreciated by the kids. The local people were so accepting which made the whole experience far more than just about going to a school on a daily basis, I ensured I integrated with the community and thanks to their warmness; it wasn't too hard at all. What you put in, you receive. I worked hard to ensure I gave my most whilst there. I think volunteering, in whatever field it may be in, cannot help but do good for someone, it teaches you what you can handle and as you mould with your project, your depth of capability.

How would you desribe a typical day at the project?
Cycle to school morning class, a generous lunch period and class in the afternoon to finish the day. More cycling within town and through villages before it is too dark to ride around. Enjoy the hum of local karaoke.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Go with an open mind and realistic aims and enjoy every minute with the kids you get, stay longer hanging out with them at school. Expect some of the pupils to not have an interest in learning as most of the others. Have some lesson plans up your sleeve for most of the time but games, in the afternoon, liven the class up, it helps to be able to be creative.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
It's a personal decision but if you think your service can benefit others then why not. It is a reflective lesson and experience and it gives you many perspectives.

Why did you choose Pod?
I liked the sound of the project, the prior discussions to confirming were always frequent and in pretty good detail. That was reassuring. I liked the project description, location and role.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes”

Elyse - 2012

“I really enjoyed my time abroad. It was one of the best things I have ever done in my life. Volunteer work is the only way that I want to travel now. I never thought I would have enjoyed my stay this much.

In Vietnam we had two classes. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. During our classes we would focus on vocabulary and grammar. We would incorporate games in between our lessons. The kids did very well at the written work but struggled with communication. To get the students to practice speaking we brought in books so they could read a loud. They seemed to really enjoy reading and also loved hearing us read. The students were wonderful people and very enthusiastic to learn.

The most rewarding thing I found about this experience was the relationships I formed with the children. All of them were so loving and eager to learn. I also loved all the other volunteers that i met along the way.

The most challenging part of my experience was some times getting the children to focus. Because I can't speak the language it could be difficult to get them to focus.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?

The advice I would give to other volunteers is that bringing ESL books are extremely helpful. Also planning games to do in between lessons was not only a really great way to help break up the day but also a fun way to learn.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad?
Volunteering is a great way to learn about yourself and the world around you. You meet wonderful people along the way and you can even make life long friends.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends?
Yes”

Clare and Kristen (15 years old)– 2012

“Kristen (15) and I had a fascinating two weeks at the orphanage. We spent our time teaching English, doing arts and crafts with the kids, playing with the younger children and cuddling the babies. The centre is well run and the children are well provided for. They are eager to learn English and were waiting in the classroom for us each day. The cycle ride there and back is beautiful, though rather hot in August, and the hotel was basic but reasonably comfortable. We were well supported by the guide who took us up to the centre from Hanoi and stayed with us for two nights to ensure we were happy with what we were doing. The children were very playful and we spent a lot of the lessons laughing and joking with them. They were also very affectionate, especially the younger ones.

How would you desribe a typical day at the project?

We arrived at the centre at around 8.15, with the first lesson starting at 8.30. We taught English to the older kids until 10am and then went into the kindergarden to play with the younger kids. At 11am they all went off for lunch followed by a sleep, so after a cuddle with the babies we would head back to the hotel. We would have some lunch and plan the lesson for the afternoon, returning to the centre at about 2pm to watch the children doing their chores until the lesson began at 2.30. This lasted until 4pm and after we would sit in the garden and watch the kids going off for their baths or playing badminton. We would cycle back to the guest house or an early supper at 6pm and go across the road to the bar for a drink and a chat. Early to bed having prepared for the next morning's lesson.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Pick up an English newspaper in Hanoi - there was one at our hotel - to get the older children to read from. Take lots of stickers to motivate your students - they love them! We took lots of arts and crafts which the kids loved to do at the end of their lessons.

Why did you choose Pod?
I liked the fact that they have visited all the projects, that they are a not for profit organisation and they offer short term placements. They were very helpful when I was deciding between projects.”

Judith

"My time in the orphanage was an unforgettable experience. We stayed in a nice hotel and rode bikes to the orphanage or to the small town.

It was amazing to see what happened within 4 weeks. Some kids who seemed to be very shy became more and more self-confident. Some really wanted to learn English or improve their computer skills. Others enjoyed playing or drawing. Some were just happy to sit on our laps get some attention and love. In the morning we had an English class with kids between 6 and 16 years old and a computer class. Most of the kids go to public school in the morning or the evening but some of them had never been to school. Because of the different time schedules, the classes changed very often and we never really knew who would join the classes. That was probably one of the biggest challenge for us, as well as to keep the kids interested in what we wanted to teach them with only the use of a dictionary/ phrase book. The dictionary was very important as it was the only way to communicate with each other.

It was an indescribable experience. I hope the kids enjoyed having us there as much as I enjoyed the time being with them. It was very difficult to say goodbye, but a wise man one time said: "Every "party" has an end and it is just important how the ending is."

Tracy

“I really enjoyed the project in Vietnam. Working with the students was very rewarding. Both the students and teachers were very happy and appreciative and i felt welcome from the first day.

...it gave me an opportunity to do a short placement which allowed me to see whether I liked volunteering. Also Pod seemed well organised and the website was easy to follow. I would recommend them.”

Kirsten

“Teaching Vietnamese children English is a rewarding task - they are very eager to learn, and very disciplined. But still they love to run around and play and luckily there was time to do that as well. I definitely want to go back some day. It's a great way to get to know the local people and you can help the children to get a better life with more opportunities.

I chose Pod because it looked like a professional organisation and it was cheaper than other organisations. I would definately recommend Pod to others.”

Constantinos

“My two weeks in Vietnam were certainly some of the best I've ever had. Emptying my mind from all kinds of expectation, bias or prejudice about the upcoming volunteering experience, I was able to enjoy every single moment to the fullest.

The project was well supported and well organized and it was a privilege to interact with the children on a day to day basis.”

Suma

“I chose to be involved in this project as I wanted to get to know a different culture ‘from the inside’ and I really feel I’ve achieved this. Being with children, many of whom don’t have much in terms of material possessions, but who more than make up for that in smiles and warmth, has been a real pleasure. 

They’ve really allowed us into their worlds and it has been a joy to get to know them and see them learn and develop, even during a short period.  I would fully recommend signing up for a project such as this – you will get so much more than you could ever imagine out of it!”

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