Caribbean Children’s Home - Volunteer Reviews

BELIZE

Read what our volunteers say about their time volunteering

Find out more about the Children's Home project

Ann-Katrine – 2017

“Hanging out with the children after school is the highlight of the day! You get to be with these wonderful kids, they will teach you things as well as you will teach them things. When people say you need to bring reading material and games and what not, this is true! Sometimes there is not so much do, so it is nice to have brought some forms of entertainment.

It is a good placement if you like to be around kids and you like to experience new cultures!

What did you find most rewarding?
Hanging out with the children! And seeing how the Belizean culture works from another perspective than if I would have been travelling around

What did you find most challenging?
The volunteer role could be unclear at times.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Bring reading material and games for time off

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! It was cheaper than others and had good reviews”

Elizabeth – 2016

“The overall experience was extremely rewarding. Pod provided excellent support throughout the process and I would absolutely recommend volunteering on any of the programmes linked with Pod! I commend Pod for thoroughly vetting applicants, including a criminal check.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Ask questions! The days/nights are very self directed so its important that volunteers ask staff on a daily basis what they need help with....don't expect to be told what to do!”

Kate – 2016

“I cannot put into words what an incredible experience I had during my time at Liberty Children's Home. I can't believe how fast 5 weeks went by! It was an experience I will never forget, and all of the children & staff will always have a special place in my heart. It was so hard to leave, but I will definitely be back!

What did you find most rewarding?
Getting to know and developing relationships with the kids

What did you find most challenging?
Saying good bye!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
You will get out of the experience what you put it. Volunteer duties are self-directed, but there is always something that needs to be done, so take initiative. The staff are always so grateful for an extra set of hands.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! Found it on the internet.”

Achvini – 2016

“Pod provided sufficient information about the placement to help decide on which one to do. The checklist of items to take was extremely useful, and Pod ensure we were prepared for any unexpected situations that may occur.

The placement itself was extremely enjoyable and the staff were a pleasure to work with. There was always something to do, and if not the children kept us entertained. There was also flexibility with what we could do based on our skills and we were introduced to locals which meant we were able to find cheaper ways of travel and were provided more insight into tourist activities to do in our spare time.

What did you find most rewarding?
I found spending my time during christmas and new years day with the children the most rewarding, especially when there are a great number of children who stay in the home when the rest are doing home visits for the holidays. Being there with them and sharing that special time of the year made it extremely rewarding.

What did you find most challenging?
The most challenging part was leaving on my last day. It was extremely sad saying goodbye to the staff and children, especially after spending everyday with them and bonding.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Make sure you take really effective insect repellent and after-bite cream. Those bugs seem to really like foreign skin!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to others?
Yes! It was the most affordable out of all the other organisations.”

Maaike – 2016

“Very interesting project. The children and staff are wonderful, so welcoming, warm and kind. Belize is a beautiful place with lots of scope for adventure on your days off.

What did you find most rewarding?
Developing relationships with the children and staff.

What did you find most challenging?
The lack of structure at the home.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Be prepared to be very self-motivating in terms of the work you do around the home. Every day is different and it is important to ASK what you can do to help - otherwise you can find yourself at a bit of a loose end. Bring old clothes/books/plates/anything else you feel you could donate to the kids - you will find yourself wearing the same clothes anyway so don't need lots of space in your suitcase for yourself! Bring lots to read/DVD's to watch as there is not much to do in the evenings.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to others?
Yes!”

Carole – 2016

“Liberty children's home is well worth supporting. I was there for 6 weeks. The children are wonderful and there are a lot of ways they would benefit from our help. As a volunteer there is no direction from the staff, so it took me some time to find my role. The caregivers are naturally protective of the children and they are solid and reliable members of the children's 'family'. Taking this into consideration, I therefore felt it was important to support them, to enable them to do more work directly with the children. Some caregivers are inspirational. It is worth getting to know what plans and ideas they have for the children.

Also, Belize is a great place to get to know as a holiday destination and I found it easy to get about using buses, but wished I had brought my driving licence to explore further.

What did you find most rewarding?
Through talking to one of the caregivers, who found out I could sew, I did a sewing project with some of the older girls and made curtains etc for their bathrooms. Apart from being really fun, it was a great way to get to know the older girls.

What did you find most challenging?
The evenings. It gets dark at 6 and there is little to do outside the compound. There was only sporadic, weak wifi (not enough for facetime or watching youtube, so after 6.30 there was little to do).

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
My opinion is that this home really needs volunteers to help with the background running of the home. If you have a practical skill, there is really lots that you can help with - growing vegetables, painting, decorating, sewing, jewellery making, music making etc. Talk to the caregivers.

Also, you will find lots of things that will help the children directly, buying them fresh fruit and vegetables, things for projects, towels and clothes. If you are able to fundraise, you will have an opportunity to spend it and see the immediate results.”

Mary – 2016

“The children's home in Belize is a very special place. The children are delightful and clearly enjoy having the volunteers to play with them and to help around the site. The staff are extremely welcoming and within days I felt a part of the community.

The surrounding areas in Belize are stunning. It's great that this project allows you the flexibility so you can explore the jungle, beautiful desert islands and let your hair down with a few rum punches at the weekend!

What did you find most rewarding?
Preparing and clearing up after the hurricane. Building positive relationships with the children.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Be prepared to seek out opportunities on site that don't necessarily involve being with the children ie. Maintenance projects.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to others?
Yes. Because I loved doing the India project previously!”

Laura - 2016

“This was truly an incredible experience! The kids were so sweet and loving and I was always greeted by hugs and smiles. With so many children, there was always something to do and never a bored moment. Lodging was very comfortable and food was great! And never for a moment did I question my safety.

What did you find most rewarding?
Being greeted by hugs and smiles from the kids!

What did you find most challenging?
Adjusting to the intense sun, heat, and humidity smile

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
If you love kids and thrive on jumping in and finding where you fit best, then this project is for you!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
An organization backed by volunteer reviews provided comfort for traveling to a foreign country.”

Caislin – 2015

“This was by far my favourite project - everyone at the children's home made me feel so welcome. Because I stayed onsite, I immediately felt part of the Ladyville community which is invaluable when you're so far from home. It was quite a relaxed project which required you to show initiative, an aspect I enjoyed. I got along brilliantly with the other volunteers and staff at the home. I would definitely go back; one of the best periods of my life.

What did you find most rewarding? Building trust and rapport with everyone at the centre.

What did you find most challenging? Playing basketball against the boys!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? GO!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to others? Yes! It was the best organisation of its type that I looked at and I could do multiple projects at a discount. The helpful manner of Becky, Erin and Gemma was also a plus point.”

Brigitte – 2015

“Working with children is very rewarding and you can make a difference in their lives. Giving time to any child the world over even if it's just taking time to push them on a swing or read a story will confirm how important they are.

Liberty is run like a family and the children are respectful and polite. Volunteering at Liberty makes you feel part of their family.

What did you find most rewarding? Knowing that my time was contributing to giving a child some attention or giving the caregivers or children a break from having to do the dishes, etc or being an extra pair of hands helping out. I enjoyed helping in the kitchen making tortilla and learning about the dishes prepared by the cooks stretching the budget best they could.

What did you find most challenging? Feeling drained and constantly sweaty from the heat and not functioning as well as normal and being bitten by the ants and sand flies.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Go for it! Rewarding experience immersing yourself into authentic Belizean culture. Great that they speak English and it's a beautiful country to explore on days off.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? The world is there to explore and challenge yourself.

Why did you choose PoD and would you recommend us to others? Yes! Charitable organisation and well supported before during and after placement.”

Nikki - 2015

"This really was a fantastic experience, something that has changed me forever. As long as you are willing to be proactive you will get the opportunity to join in with all aspects of the children's home. Despite all the challenges the children and the home face, the place is filled with love and happiness. I also enjoyed the experience of travelling locally on my odd day off. This was an added bonus that I wasn't expecting and I met so many interesting people.

Thank you to POD, especially Erin, for all your help.

What was a typical day at the Children’s Home in Belize? I would wake up between 5 and 6am when the sun rose and would help with breakfast from 7am. When the children were on holiday we would then do a couple of hours of maths or English work, followed by play time. Lunch would be around 12.30 and I would also help out with chores such as laundry or helping in the garden. There is minimum direction on site so it is very much up to you to get to know the workers and offer your help!

What did you find most rewarding? The children and so beautiful and just amazing characters. I learnt so much from them.

What did you find most challenging? Geckos running up my bedroom wall! Amazingly though you adjust to this very quickly.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Take bug spray, go with an open mind knowing you will need to be proactive, enjoy their culture of being relaxed - it's liberating!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? I am 42 and it is easily one of the best experiences of my life. It makes you realise that so much of what you think is "right" is only because that's all you've experienced, there may be another, even better way to live.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? Due to their reputation and they were extremely helpful and always responded promptly to my queries. I would have no hesitation in recommending them."

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 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.”

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!

Life at Liberty is definitely what you make 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 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.

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 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!”

Hish – 2014

“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. 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 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.”

Nikkie – 2014

“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. This is everything I've ever looked forward to. It's the one thing that sparked to jump start into something greater. 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 the streets 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. Full of life. Full of laugher. Compassion. Vibrancy. Those children have so much to offer the world.

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 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 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.

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.

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.”

Essi – 2013

“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 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.

What did you find most rewarding? The most rewarding part for me was when the kids' faces would light up upon seeing me. 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."

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!

What was a typical day at the project? There was no real schedule of duties or work; you made of it what you wanted. 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.

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.”

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 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.”

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.

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.

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. 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. 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

“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. You often have to use your initiative as there is not always much instruction.

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 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.”

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

“The experience at the children's home was amazing, challenging, inspiring and exhausting at times, but hugely worthwhile and rewarding! 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 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.”

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. 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 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?  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.

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

“I can honestly say a piece of my heart will always be at Liberty. 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.

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.”

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 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

What advice would you give to others considering this project? Take lots and lots of insect repellent and after bite. 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

“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. 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 will be an experience I will hold dearly in my heart forever.

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. 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 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 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!”

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.

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.

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.”

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

Find out more about the Children's Home project

AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal