Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hannah's Life Changing Volunteer Experience

I’ve just recently returned from volunteering in GVN’s Thailand and Kenya programs.   While working at GVN I’ve had the opportunity to coordinate both these programs, and have heard time and time again how amazing they are, so I decided it was my turn! 

Animals have always held a special place in my heart which is why I decided to spent my first two weeks of my trip in the Thailand program working in a Wildlife Rescue Centre with 8 of the most beautiful Elephants!!  The Elephants have been rescued from a life of slavery and now reside at the centre where they are able to live out the remainder of their lives in peace.  All of the animals at the centre are rescued and most arrive at the sanctuary malnourished, wounded and traumatized.  The abused animals are a result of Thailand's illegal animal trade, in which wild animals are caught and sold as pets, exploited by the tourism industry, or killed for their fur, meat and medicinal purposes. Many simply end up as trophies.  It was really sad to see some of the Elephants in this state, but I was also able to see the big improvement that the rescue centre makes everyday to these animals!  It was just amazing to watch these animals regain their health and their dignity.

My daily routine included bringing 3 of the elephants back from the jungle, feeding, bathing, cleaning up their enclosures and then returning the 3 back to the jungle at the end of the day.  Every few days we would go to local farms with the mahouts (Thai Elephant keeper) to harvest food for the elephants.  This was hard work but we managed to make our own fun!      

I found working at the reserve with the Elephants really was that ‘once in a life time opportunity’ which I will remember forever.  They are incredibly amazing animals.  The more time I spent with them, the more I realize just how intelligent they are and how the quote ‘an elephant never forgets’ is so true!   

After I finished my placement in Thailand I headed off to Kenya to participate in another one of GVN’s placements and to visit a friend.  My first thought arriving in Kenya was, ‘it’s really cold!’  It just so happens that I went during the time of year where it was coming into summer, so the weather wasn’t bad – but after being in a 30 degree, humid heat in Thailand, it was a big shock to my system! 

I spent two weeks in a baby orphanage in Nairobi.  The orphanage I worked in was really well run, had a team of very dedicated staff and of course, the children were adorable!  This made a huge impact on my placement as I felt comfortable straight away and I was excited to go to work everyday. 
The orphanage was home for about 50 kids but I worked with 14 babies aged from 6 months to about 15 months old.  Most of my time was spent helping feed the babies, and playing with kids.  I miss the way when I walked in the room, their faces lit up!!  They were so excited to have someone there to spend time with, hold them and play with them. 

During my time in Kenya was I lucky enough to see 4 of the babies at the orphanage get adopted!  I was so happy to see that these children finally had their own loving parents, but at the same time it was sad to see them go. 

I also had a chance to do a bit of sight seeing while in Kenya, so I became a whizz at working the markets, went out to the Maasai Mara on safari and spent four days relaxing on the coast, on a little Island called Lamu!  Africa has gotten under my skin and I can’t wait to go back!

This trip was life changing for me and has ignited a passion within me!  I can’t wait for my next adventure! 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ambos for Africa

Meet a pair of awesome Kiwi Ambulance Officers preparing for their trip to Kenya with the Global Volunteer Network.  Hannah shares their story with us below:

"In Jan this year while working an unusually quiet Friday night shift at Manukau Ambulance Station, New Zealand, my co-worker Janelle (a paramedic) was talking about how she wanted to go overseas and volunteer in a third world country.

I (Hannah, an Ambulance Officer) had already been on a volunteer trip to Ethiopia, Africa in 2004.   It was the most life changing, heart breaking, challenging but best thing I have ever done and I have always wanted to go back!  After talking more and more about the idea we jumped online to see what we could find.  That's when we came across Global Volunteer Network.  We read about a little medical clinic in the Massailands of Kenya, Africa and it sounded like the perfect place to go!!   We both applied and were accepted the next day!  Wow it all happened so fast.   And so the fundraising journey begins and we have decided to call this little adventure "Ambos for Africa". 

We are both really excited about this trip and have received so much support from friends, family, co-workers even people we have never meet but who really believe in what we are doing.  Fundraising is hard work but we have to get the $14,000.00 from somewhere and that hard work is paying off.  We are over 1/2 way there and with only 5 months to go we know we will get on that plane!!

Someone once said to me "people are paying thousands to get out of Africa, why are you paying thousands to get in"?  Its simple.  I've already seen first hand the destruction of AIDS and lack of healthcare and I want to do my part in making a difference.  I come from a very privileged country and I don't want to become someone who takes life for granted and forgets about those in need!"

Great work ladies!  We're sure you'll make a real difference providing healthcare to Massai communities.

If you'd like to read their blog or provide support please visit: www.ambosforafrica.com 

To learn more about our volunteer programs in Kenya please visit: http://www.globalvolunteernetwork.org/kenya/

Monday, November 15, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Why Volunteering Internationally Will Help You Get Ahead

What do Harvard, Time Magazine, USA Today, the Chartered Management Institute, and former GVN volunteers all have in common?

They think that YOU should volunteer abroad!

GVN has just released a fascinating report on the benefits of volunteering. The report brings together key research from universities, the media, and former volunteers to highlight the top 10 reasons why volunteering will help you get ahead.

Did you know that volunteering abroad not only gives you the chance to give back to communities in need, but also increases your employability, improves your university admission chances, and helps you figure out what to do with your life! Check it out here: