Thursday, October 27, 2011

Why I Can't Leave Panama

Boquete is a very interesting little place, a town now, rather than a village. Because of its proximity to the States, and its tropical weather it has become a very popular place for Americans (not all, but most) to re-settle.

The people are incredibly friendly, everyone waves or says Buenos, the taxis and buses beep their horns, if you are walking,  cars will stop and offer you a lift.

There is a large focus on health here, organic or hydroponically grown veges, the fruits are amazing, as are the local markets with friendly Panamanians to look after you.  Every tuesday morning the community holds a market where you can buy (or sell) a cross section of wonderful things, from organic soaps, creams, fruit and vege, and  European breads, to bags, stunning (local made) jewelery, books and hand made cards.

The mornings are generally beautiful, warm and sunny, the tropical rain will come in the afternoons, sometimes not at all. The temperatures are lovely,  there is a  cool breeze because we are in the mountains, as opposed to Panama City, Santiago and David which are very hot and muggy. There is no Dengue Fever, Malaria, Yellow Fever, etc here, in fact even when in the rainforest, I haven't really been bitten by mosquitoes.

There is always something going on here, so depending upon the length of stay, there could be time for one to become involved with the community.

Once a month a volunteer organisation called Amigos de Animales, started by a most amazing woman Ruby, holds a free sterilisation clinic. I know of nothing like this elsewhere in the western world. People bring in strays, neighbours animals, indigenous animals, whatever, and a dedicated team of vets and volunteers will sterilise theses animals and nurse them back from anaesthetic thereby reducing the over population of the towns dogs and cats. If someone can pay, excellent, if they can't,  they are not turned away. If the vets find a tumour (very common here) or similar, they will remove that whilst the animal is under. It's amazing. On average the clinic will take care of 80 - 90 animals on the clinic day. This was such an amazing experience for me, I put off leaving just so I could be here for the next clinics.   Every Tuesday the mainstay volunteers for Amigos de Animales are at the local morning market, promoting, taking donations, and finding homes for animals up for adoption.

In Chorcha (about 1.5 hrs from Boquete) there is Alouatta Lodge, a rescue rehabilitation centre for Howler monkeys. The centre is run by Steve and Michelle, (Michelle is a Kiwi) and achance to get up close and personal with these wonderful creatures. I have helped Michelle as kitchen hand when she has tours through for lunch, as well as prepping and painting the first cottage they have built for people to stay. Again such an amazing experience. If there was a male out there who wanted to help with building, welding, laying in more paths for the forest walks, or similar skills, Alouatta would brings such rewards.

Jungla is a rescue centre about 15 minutes from the town square. Run by a minute dedicated woman called Dorothy her love and passion for the animals is amazing. She has created not only a haven for those animals who have come from abused circumstances, but also a little retreat for the Panamanian and Indigenous kids to come after school where they can hang out and be with the animals. We clean the cages and feed the animals and take 'up close and personal tours' as well.  She really needs people to help with new marketing ideas, and if there someone who was a whizz at putting together a very simple website, please come. You can stay at Jungla, if you wish, hang out with Manchita or Rocketta (two of the monkeys, really friendly) and just be in this amazing place.

Unexpected Moments of Magic Foundation supports Hogar Trister, the local orphanage. Here the kids will steal your heart away in a New York minute, they are clever and funny, love to learn and so love the volunteers who come to spend time with them. The environment is quite controlled to protect the kids, however, just very recently we were able to take them on an excursion to Jungla for the morning. We are hoping that has set a precedence. UMMF also organises volunteers to the local schools to teach English and crafts, however basic Spanish would be a re-requisite for this placement.  The other projects I have pretty much sought out for myself since getting here. There is also a new opportunity here for pre med, med or nursing assistance at the local Boquete clinic.

Apart from all of that I have spread my wings into some other areas, of course I have been able to do that since I have chosen to stay here for a while. The brand new local library is almost finished,  and at the moment we are trying to get over 9,000.00 books catalogued into the computer and onto the shelves in preparation for the opening.

Several times a year the Foundation de Integration (Disability centre) carries out a donation run for money and food to assist with the 120 families they feed each month,  and once a year there is 'Bid for Boquete',  a huge auction in February run to raise funds for four major charities here in Boquete.   The lady I am staying with is one of the main organisers for this event, so we have been photographing and cataloguing donated pieces for the auction as well as soliciting such, and I find I am now organising to produce a calendar of the Extreme Adventure guys, the proceeds of which will go to Bid for Boquete.

It is very easy to make friends here, I went up to Chorcha for three weeks, and when I returned to Boquete I had been missed. Its heart warming to say the least. It is an easy community to become involved with, and they are incredibly appreciative of anything you do. I wanted to go somewhere to make a difference, and here I feel as though I am doing that. To be honest, since this is my first time volunteering I had no idea what to expect, but I chose this placement because of the region, and the opportunity to learn a little Spanish.

I expected to be here for three months, so far I have been here for just over four, and with Alouatta Lodge, the 'Bid for Boquete' charity auction, and Amigos de Animales projects I will be applying for an extension to my visa.

Vicki Whittle

For information on becoming involved in the Panama Volunteer Program or to apply online go to 

Monday, July 11, 2011

My Unforgettable India

Jorge Fernandez, a 24 year old from Mexico spent 8 weeks volunteering in GVN's India Children's Program.  Volunteers in this program have the opportunity to work with street children and children from slums in daycare centres and schools which have been purposely set-up to help alleviate poverty. There are opportunities to teach English, provide care and basic education for children.

Jorge wrote a very moving final journal piece about his experience volunteering in India, excerpts of which we're proud to share with you today:

"The first of my conclusions is that if you are either a person eager to see and learn about the world and the people living in it or one of those idealists who believes the world can be changed for the better, then you should definitely consider volunteering in India.

And so you might ask: Why India?  Well this might just be my very own, tremendously biased opinion, but I can hardly think of a country in which you will find such impressive cultural vastness, mad/fun craziness, overwhelming contrasts, functional chaos and unbelievable diversity, cultural clash, all in the same place. “India is a land you learn to love as much as you hate sometimes” as my friend Tamara says, is the best way of defining it I heard, and it’s absolutely true, so why not experience such a country?

Secondly, and most important: WHY volunteering? Well…

My most definite answer would be a very Indian “Why not?”. Why not go on about a trip aimed to cultivating our minds and hearts in ways different to what the regular, tourist trips do? Why not help people anywhere in the world? After all, we are all human beings, trying to achieve the happiness and peace we’re all entitled to have. I know for me this is what India taught me and I can’t be any more grateful for finding a home in Jai Jawan Colony 129, a family in my fellow volunteers and a bunch of great, wise teachers in the people I got to come across during my 12 revealing weeks in which, in exchange for a piece of my heart left at Jaipur, I took so much more that will define me and my future.
Every single day was an adventure because we let ourselves enjoy and work with every moment as it came, even the ugly ones. It’s a good reminder of how we can improve our regular, daily lives.

So… Why not?"

If you'd like to find out more about volunteering in India, or to apply online visit

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Make Your Summer Count!

The northern hemisphere summer months are among our busiest at Global Volunteer Network.  In this blog post we’re taking a look at the top 7 reasons so many people spend their precious summer months volunteering abroad, and what they really gain from it!

1) Spend your summer doing something meaningful – it will look great on your resume/CV and shows a commitment to social change and willingness to work hard.

2) Give yourself a well-deserved break from the classroom. Volunteer in an exotic location and experience the world whilst gaining experience you won’t get in your classroom!

3) Gain career direction or clarification; gain experience working in your field of interest; or try out new areas of interest to see if you want to pursue them further.

4) Get ahead of other recent graduates in the job market and make yourself stand out from other applicants.

5) If you’re studying, chances are you’ve got the time.  When you eventually enter the workforce you’ll be restricted to much shorter periods of annual leave.  With flexible placements from 1 week up to 3 months there’s no better time for you to volunteer abroad.

6) Step out of your comfort zone and discover what you’re capable of! You might be surprised!

7) Meet people from around the world and build on your communication and relationship making skills, your cultural understanding and best of all....make new friends!

As you can see, spending your summer volunteering abroad offers so much more than your average summer vacation.  Make your summer count by spending 1 to 12 weeks exploring a new country and culture, whilst at the same time sharing your time, talents, and passion with communities in developing countries who really need you.

It’s not too late to get involved this summer 2011!  If you’d like to learn more about summer programs available to you, or to apply online visit

Monday, May 23, 2011

Muraho from Rwanda!

Every now and then we come across funny, interesting and inspiring journal entries written by our volunteers, which provide a really unique personal insight into their volunteer experience.

Recently we've been enjoying the journal of Heather Padilla, a 27 year old from the USA, who is volunteering for the month of May in our Rwanda Literacy Program.  Below we're sharing with you some of Heather's pearls of wisdom, her highlights, funny anecdotes and experiences teaching in a school in Rwanda.

"After a bit of a rough start (i.e. luggage full of everything for the month being sent to another city, potential blow-out of laptop, adjusting to the city/life in general), things have finally started to settle down and I’ve found myself able to take a deep breath and relax a bit.

The first week in a new place is always eventful and a bit energy-sapping as you are thrust into a new way of life in unfamiliar terrain and this has been no exception.

“African Time” – even though I had mentally prepared for it, it’s been a bit of a challenge going from a rigorous, packed “5 minutes early is on time” schedule to a “no rush – we’ll get there when we get there” mindset.

I got a chance to see the school where I’ll start teaching tomorrow, there are two shifts (students come from 7-11:40 and 12:40-5)...the school is EXTREMELY poor (no running water or electricity) and the students walk there from all over and crowd into rooms of sometimes 50 or 60 students at a time, some of the students don’t even have shoes…however, evidently they are still really good at soccer…the director’s assistant was very proud of how hard the students try and showed us all the medals they had received from games.

It was decided that I would teach P3 (third grade) English. I’m not sure if I’ll be moving around to other grades as the weeks go by or not but for now I enjoy the age group. The students are really funny. The first day they seemed really shy and quiet (well, apart from the breaks where they would just surround me and stare until one brave soul decided to talk to me, consequently opening the door for the rest of them to shake hands or hug me as they giggled).

They have progressively become more talkative though (mostly when their Rwandese teachers are out of the room). There are five questions that they ALL ask me: 1) “How are you?” 2) “What is your name? 3) “Where do you live?” 4) “How old are you?” and my favorite 5) “What is your mother/father’s name?” Some of them are becoming more familiar with me and have decided to try and school me in English. As I walk around the room monitoring the class as they copy notes from the board (which takes forever, by the way, but is essential since they don’t have worksheets or workbooks) I will hear [Student]:“Teacher, teacher! What is this?” (holds up a pen) [Me]: “It’s a pen.” [Student w/ HUGE smile and congratulating eyes]: “YES!! Very good!” They then continue to ask me everything they can think of (paper, eyes, ears, nose, hands, etc.) and seem very surprised each time when I know the answers.  Speaking of answers, these students LOVE to try and participate when they know the answer. We studied how to tell time this week and I was a bit blown away the first time I drew a clock on the board and asked them what time it was. The class of 50 or so students was filled with raised hands...

As far as school goes, all I can say is I’m ready to challenge anyone to Pictionary or Charades as soon as I get back home. There are no worksheets or workbooks…just my acting and chalkboard drawing ability. I’m sure it’s quite entertaining to watch me dramatically act out various jobs or places in the community (the lessons this past week).

I was told that my first name is hard to pronounce so it might be easier to go by Padilla instead. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it at first but then decided that it sounded pretty sporty (going by last names and all) and might be kinda fun. Apparently Padilla is just as hard to say. All the students and teachers called me “PED-rah” after the first day so I made an executive decision to go back to Heather. It doesn’t really make a huge difference though because the students call me “Teacher” anyway. Well, that or “Natalie”…the name of their last teacher!"

Volunteers in the Rwanda Program have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of under-privileged children and adults by assisting processes to help eradicate poverty, reduce HIV infections, provide education and help communities through capacity building programs.

For more information about this program, or to apply online visit:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Reflections on Nepal... a volunteers reward

When I read up on Nepal in the months leading up to my stint as a volunteer, I discovered a swamp of cliché-riddled travel literature. Travel agency websites promised pristine mountain air, books promised a land of colorful cultures living in harmony, and bloggers promised cities where every step felt like a journey through time. As great as each of those things seemed, the reality is significantly more nuanced, and more beautifully complex than the brochures let on.

Nepal is in many ways like a small boat trying to traverse the raging sea of history and politics. The cultural influence of India is so ubiquitous as to appear invisible, while the political climate speaks of aspirations to China's revolutionary successes. But as a volunteer these were not necessarily the sorts of things which were first apparent for me, and even today they are often overshadowed by the "small wonders" that are to be found at every corner.

The beautifully misspelt sign on a drinks factory which urges oblivious passers-by to "quench your thrust with trust." The newspaper's business page which lists, instead of various stocks, the price of fruits and vegetables for the day. The stray dogs who nap in every available gutter and nook. The stray cows who back up traffic while they cross the road at their unhurried pace. The expensive stores in the shopping mall which hang limes and peppers above their door as a traditional ward against theft. The cinema with its intermission, during which theatre employees circulate with menus to take orders for food for the second half. The numerous misunderstandings at restaurants, like receiving mayonnaise instead of Marinara sauce, or pizzas piled high with carrot, cauliflower, rice, and drowned in ketchup. The more fundamental misunderstandings of purpose that lead to unique restaurants themselves: the food court where one is seated, brought menus from each stall, and waited on, springs to mind.

But these small wonders are just fodder for cute anecdotes when you arrive home. The real rewards are in engaging with Nepal, and Nepali people as a volunteer. I spent some time at the children's homes, playing and dancing during festival time, talking to the kids, learning about their lives, and answering their questions about my own home. Most of my time was spent in the Kathmandu suburb of Boudha, where I was placed to teach English. Here too, there are rich social and cultural rewards for volunteerism. A myriad of different people come to learn English for a dozen different reasons, and they are all amazing to talk to. I even made friends with some of the monks who attended my class, and there is nothing quite like visiting monasteries, other holy sites and even a driving range with my maroon-robed friends. Even besides my students, I have become friends with shop-keepers and shoe-shiners, and found myself embedded in a social network of Nepali men and women who go for tea every afternoon.

Air in the city is never fresh. The harmony between the colorful cultures of Nepal has been exaggerated. History fades into the background more and more with every footfall. But even so, I realize that the travel agencies did not lie: they simply failed to betray the most exciting reality of all. Nepal, with all of its complexities, contradictions, and confusion, is a real place filled with real people who have real problems. People can come here, and make new friends, and as a volunteer they can make their small-but-significant contribution toward the solution of some of Nepal's problems.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Take A Cycle Through Vietnam

This week we'd like to introduce you to the wonderful, inspiring and unbelievably motivated Caitie Goddard of the GVN Foundation.  Caitie is going to tell you about an exciting adventure she's signed herself up for in April 2011 and why she's so passionate about taking on this challenge.

"I LOVE to travel and hope to do much more of it! I’ve been fortunate to visit and live in some amazing places including Madrid, Spain Bulenga, Uganda and Wellington, New Zealand and have found that more than the actual places, it is the people I meet that make the experience so worthwhile!

That certainly holds true in one of my favorite countries I’ve been, Vietnam. In May of 2010, I had the opportunity to spend some time in Vietnam where I had the “difficult” job of visiting several orphanages and schools where I got to play and spend time with beautiful children. My employer, the GVN Foundation supports these children by fundraising to provide nutritional programs, medical care and salaries for physical therapists who work with the severely disabled children.
One of my tasks while I was there was also to prepare for the first-ever GVN Cycling Challenge; cycling over 500 km (310 miles!) to raise funds for these gorgeous children. Why 500 km? If you’ve ever been to Vietnam or know someone who has, odds are you’ve fallen in love with the people, food and beauty of the country. I couldn’t agree more and that’s why this cycling adventure needs to be… a challenge! No one wants to donate to your time spent in a loungechair on the beach and we want them to know we are serious about fundraising! We’ll still get the beach (and a cocktail…or four!) but that comes after a tough and sweaty challenge to do something perhaps out of your comfort zone for a great cause. (And if it’s not out of yours, rest assured this will certainly be something out of mine!) We ask all participants to raise USD$2,000 (excluding cycling trip costs) that goes directly to the non-profit GVN Foundation to support the projects in Vietnam. Even for those where money is not an obstacle, it means so much more to go through the effort of fundraising and making people aware of what you’re doing!

Participants will challenge themselves to complete the journey in the April heat going from Ho Chi Minh City to Hoi An. Cycling past scenery that will make you wonder why anyone would consider driving, stops will be made to visit the orphanages we are fundraising to assist and include a lunch with the kids and staff at the projects!  The trip in Vietnam holds the same purpose as the treks; to tackle and accomplish a difficult physical challenge but most importantly, make a huge impact on the lives of the community GVN works with.  The money raised by participants will go towards:

- Education and meal programs for several orphanages
- Vietnamese teacher salaries to reduce class sizes and allow for better English lessons
- An emergency medical fund so when children have an accident or fall sick, they do not have to wait for treatment
- New medical equipment for children with disabilities, including wheelchairs and physiotherapy supplies to help those who need daily treatment
I will never forget the smiles on the kids’ faces and I know that through this bike trip we can significantly change their lives. The children are either orphans or come from families too poor to support them. Many of the children in the surrounding area live in unsafe conditions, sometimes without adequate food, education, or even clean water.  With this trip, we will be changing the lives of over 100 Vietnamese children, giving them a chance to receive adequate nourishment and a proper education to go forward and lead the next generation towards a better life.

Global Volunteer Network has successfully organized trips to climb Mt. Everest, (Nepal) Mt. Kilimanjaro, (Kenya) and Machu Picchu (Peru) to challenge the participants and provide an incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see exactly what the funds are able to do by visiting the projects immediately following the trek. This will be the FIRST time we have a cycling challenge and I am thrilled to be leading it!

We currently have a few more spots and it would be great to get some further support from traveling enthusiasts. You don’t have to be a professional rider, we will always have an air-conditioned support vehicle nearby should you need a break or want to trade in some H20 on a bike for some famous Vietnamese coffee in comfort!"

If you have a taste for adventure, Caitie would love for any of our readers to consider this challenge and add it to your list of accomplishments for 2011!

For more information on the Vietnam Cycle Challenge or to apply online please visit our website:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"I Like Table Tennis as it's Fun!"

At GVN we love hearing about unique projects our partners and volunteers are implementing in communities in need around the world.  We also like to be reminded that children are children no matter where they grow up in the world, and the fact is that good honest FUN can be vital to the development of brighter futures!

When we heard that 14 kids at the Brighter Future Children's Home in Nepal were eagerly awaiting the grand opening of their new table tennis table (affectionately named Delilah) we had to find out more...

"The history behind Delilah is that the BFCH kids decided about the middle of last year that they really wanted a ping pong table, so the decision was to save their monthly activities money to help fund it. 

However, in December 2010 an ex BFCH volunteer, Jeremy Ward and his family kindly sent a donation and asked that it go towards something the kids really wanted.  This donation made it possible for the project to get the green light, all they needed then were some community maintenance volunteers with a bit of moxie to give it a go.  Enter stage right, volunteers Diego and Ken.  These volunteers, with the help of the BFCH manager and the kids built her from scratch, with little more than a few basic tools (excluding a spirit level!), some bricks, cement, sand, metal rods, a couple of reclaimed corrugated iron sheets and a whole lot of bamboo!

The end result is AMAZING and Diego and Ken have done themselves and the kids proud!"
Our Nepal partner Kate conducted an interview with Diego and Ken - table tennis table builders extraordinaire, and some of the lucky kids:

Kate:  "So what was your biggest challenge during this building project?"
Boys:  "Trying to get a flat surface and straight sides with no spirit level.  It's amazing what you can do with a bit of string with a weight on the end of it!"
Diego:  "Trying to stop Ken muttering repeatedly in front of the children, 'bloody hell' every time things weren't going quite to plan."
Kate:  "Diego, are you happy with your creation?"
Diego:  "I think she is the most beautiful and happiest table tennis table ever. I have left a little bit of my heart in her."
Kate:  "How about you Ken?" (please note Ken is Scottish and thus not really one for flowery language, so his reply was a real surprise!)
Ken:  "Delilah was built not only by mine, Diego's and Jaggu's fair hands, but from our hearts.  It's an experience I'll never forget.  Seeing the smiles on the little orphans faces nearly brought me to tears. Aaaah bless!"
After picking herself up off the floor at Ken's response and still laughing, Kate then moved onto the children.
Kate:  "Udaya, why do you like playing table tennis?"
Udaya:  "I don't!"
Kate:  "Mmmmn!  Udaya, what do you like best about your new table tennis table?"
Udaya:  "The net!"
Kate:  "Really, anything else?"
Udaya:  "Diego and Ken Dai built us a good table tennis table."
moving on ......
Kate:  "Tajendra, why do you like playing table tennis?"
Taj:  "I like table tennis as it's fun"
Kate:  "What do you think of your new TTT?"
Taj:  "It's the best TTT in Kathmandu!"
At this point Kate thought she would ask one of the older children for their thoughts:
Kate:  "Suresh, who is the best TTT player at BFCH?"

Suresh:  "Me of course!"  (in his defence he does play on the school team)
Kate (laughing out loud):  "Why do you like playing TTT so much?"
Suresh:  "Because it's a funny game"

And that just about says it all!!  Thanks Kate, Ken and Diego and the team in Nepal for putting together such a great project.

For more information on volunteering in Nepal, or to apply online please visit our website:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Volunteering Fun in Vietnam!

We've been captivated by Olivia Nunn's journal entries and just had to share them with you. Olivia is spending 2 weeks volunteering in Vietnam during January and by the sound of it is having a fantastic time!

Tam Ky is nothing like I had pictured. ‘Small province south of hoi an’ brought to mind images of a quiet village with small, winding roads and few people. In reality it is much different. As though competing for the title of the ‘city that never sleeps’, Tam Ky is seemingly always busy, always loud. The cafe right next door to the GVN house prevents sleep by blaring Vietnamese disco music from 5am to 11pm, accompanied by the constant and loud blasting of horns.

Driving around Tam Ky is terrifying. This morning we were headed to the baby orphanage- which I was unbelievably excited about- and the taxi driver once again decided to engage in a game of chicken with the oncoming traffic. If we’re lucky, it’s a motorbike which swerves out of the way as our driver blasts his horn. If we’re unlucky, it’s a massive truck, which is bearing down upon us, hand on horn, before our driver decides to hop back onto the correct side of the road. Exhilarating yet terrifying.

Anyway, more important than Tam Ky, sleep deprivation, disco cafes or freaky traffic; BABIES!! As we approached the orphanage- five white girls clutching cameras- the children ran out to greet us, squealing with delight and stomping their little feet. One of the little boys, Tuan, who has the cutest chubby little face I have ever seen, immediately initiated with me a game of peek a boo.

I had brought to Vietnam various items of children’s clothing, as well as bubbles and toys. I pulled out the suitcase and the kids went crazy with delight, pulling out tiny hats and shoes and little shirts and the ‘mothers’ (social workers) helped them to find ones which would fit them. It was really beautiful and happy but one sight absolutely broke my heart. One little boy, nicknamed ‘little mouse’ was standing by himself, staring at the suitcase with tears rolling down his cheeks. He has been told that there was nothing there that fit him. It was possibly the saddest thing I have ever seen. Then I realised that I hadn’t pulled out the bubbles yet so I got one of the tubs out and blew bubbles towards him. His was immediately ecstatic and enjoyed making the other kids jealous until they got some also. This afternoon i went to the supermarket and bought him some clothes, totaling US$2!
The best part about the children is how affectionate they are. They are so attention deprived that they crave it and lap it up when offered to them. I bonded really well with one baby in particular- Bok Choy. She is about 2 and is the happiest little kid I have ever met. I was there for hours and every time I put her down she would wrap her little hands around my leg and cling to me as I attempted to walk. I sang to her Rinky Dinky Do (a song my mum used to sing) and she would giggle so hard that I thought she was about to pop (should I be offended?) The only frustrating part was when the little boys decided it would be fun to make a game out of getting under my floor-length skirt… boy did they get told off.

I was so sad when I had to leave but tonight I'm teaching at the Home of Affection (a school for underprivileged children) and then tomorrow I get to go back!! I love love love the baby orphanage.

PS FOOOOD! I had the best lunch ever. The cook at Tam Ky, Mrs Hanh, is famous for her amazing cooking and she has definitely proven that to be true. Today we had some kind of banana flour salad with fresh mint, nuts, beef and prawns and an amazing sauce. T’was simply AMAZING.

For more information about the Vietnam program, or to apply online please visit

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Become 'legendary' in 2011!

Whether you choose 'legendary' status or 'absolute superstar', when you become part of the GVN PoDs you become part of the movement to break the poverty cycle.

The GVN and GVN Foundation teams have come up with an innovative model for development that we believe will revolutionise the way we connect, share, and exchange as human beings to help put an end to poverty once and for all. It's called the GVN PoD and we have started a fundraising campaign to kick-start the project and begin turning this dream into a reality!

Check out the latest GVN PoD video:

We have the vision and now we need you to help us kick-start the campaign and build the dream! Every donor will receive one of the following perks from us, whether you donate $10 (Every little bit helps!), $150 (You're a Legend!) or $20,000 (You're an angel and we love you!).

Which perk will you choose?

1. Every Bit Helps! ($10 minimum)
* The sweet, sweet satisfaction of contributing to an awesome project.
* Plus, we will list your name on the website as a contributor.

Claim This Perk

2. Very Generous! ($25 minimum)
* You will receive a free night including accommodation and food at any of our PoD locations in Kenya, Uganda, Vietnam, Peru and New Zealand.
* Plus your name will be engraved on the main building at our first PoD in Kenya.

Claim This Perk

3. You Rock! ($50 minimum)
* You will receive two free nights including accommodation and food at any of our PoD locations in Kenya, Uganda, Vietnam, Peru and New Zealand.
* Plus your name will be engraved on the main building at our first PoD in Kenya.
* Plus you will go in the draw to win an invitation to the opening of our Kenya PoD including international flights and accommodation.

Claim This Perk

4. You're a Legend! ($150 minimum)
* You will receive a free week including accommodation and food at any of our PoD locations in Kenya, Uganda, Vietnam, Peru and New Zealand.
* Plus your name will be engraved on the main building at our first PoD in Kenya.
* Plus you will go in the draw to win an invitation to the opening of our Kenya PoD including international flights and accommodation.

Claim This Perk

5. You're Our New Best Friend! ($500 minimum)
* You will receive a free month including accommodation and food at any of our PoD locations in Kenya, Uganda, Vietnam, Peru and New Zealand.
* Plus your name will be engraved on the main building at our first PoD in Kenya.
* Plus you will go in the draw to win an invitation to the opening of our Kenya PoD including international flights and accommodation.

Claim This Perk

6. You're an Absolute Super Star! ($2,000 minimum)
* You will receive a free month for 3 years including accommodation and food at any of our PoD locations in Kenya, Uganda, Vietnam, Peru and New Zealand.
* Plus your name will be engraved on the main building at our first PoD in Kenya.
* Plus you will go in the draw to win an invitation to the opening of our Kenya PoD including international flights and accommodation.

Claim This Perk

7. You're an Angel & We Love You! ($20,000 minimum)
* You will receive up to a month each year for five years for two people including accommodation and food at any of our PoD locations in Kenya, Uganda, Vietnam, Peru and      New Zealand.
* Plus you will have a garden named after you at our first PoD in Kenya.
* Plus your name engraved on the main building.
* Plus you will be invited to the opening of our Kenya PoD including international flights and accommodation.

Claim This Perk

We would also love for you to join the movement by becoming a Facebook Fan. Go to:!/pages/GVN-PoDs-If-we-build-it-change-will-come/124660390931293?v=wall

Thanks for reading and I hope you will join us and be a part of this amazing journey!

With gratitude,

Colin Salisbury
Founder and President
Global Volunteer Network

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Looking for that unique opportunity in 2011?

You may be thinking - what if none of the usual volunteer abroad projects or treks takes my fancy but you've a burning desire to get involved in 2011?

If you're looking for something a little more tailored to your needs, or a little different to the usual cookie cutter program around then we're pleased to let you know that GVN have developed a number of special volunteer trips to suit you!

I know that each and every one of you has something special to contribute to a community in need, to bring a brighter future to disadvantaged people around the world.

In 2011 we're giving you the opportunity, the support, and the inspiration through one of the following unique projects:

Vietnam Youth Tour: Designed with 15-17 year olds in mind, this program has been created to allow teens the chance to take part in one of our rewarding volunteer programs.

Young at Heart Tour (50+): This tour caters to volunteers aged from 50 years onwards who are young at heart and ready for their next adventure.

ESTC Distribution Trip: Our funds distribution trip to Kenya offers participants the once in a lifetime opportunity to directly help with distributing funds raised through our Eat So They Can campaign. By joining this program you will be assisting on the ground and delivering supplies to the schools, orphanages and camps we support.

Treat yourself to an adventure packed, unique and rewarding experience in a group environment with people who have the same interests as you.  At GVN we're giving you the key - don't let the same old excuses get in your way of unlocking your dreams and potential in 2011!

Kind regards,

Colin Salisbury
Founder and President
Global Volunteer Network

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Join me in Tuscany, Italy or Cape Cod, USA or Taupo, New Zealand!

Do you have the heart to create change, but you don't have the confidence or knowledge to get started?  Would you like to develop a meaningful career or social enterprise?  Make 2011 the year to put your plans into action, and be inspired and motivated through our Be The Change program.

For those of you who have not heard about it, GVN's Be The Change (BTC) Program is a week-long intensive course designed to train individuals to become change agents in their own communities. If you dream of starting a non-profit/charity organization; getting a job with the United Nations/non-profit/charity; starting a social enterprise or project; or if you just want to learn more about the field of social entrepreneurship or international development then this is the ideal program for you.

The next Be The Change program will be held from June 9-16, 2011 in beautiful Tuscany, Italy.  For more information or to apply online click on the following link:

Sometimes all it takes is one ordinary person to bring about incredible change to the lives of those in need.  Join me on this life changing program and we'll empower you on your way to becoming an agent of change in 2011.

Kind regards,

Colin Salisbury
Founder and President
Global Volunteer Network

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tick one off your bucket list in 2011!

2010 saw 12 brave GVN trekkers tackle Mt Kilimanjaro, and 29 people rise to the challenge of the Mt Everest Base Camp trek all in the name of raising funds for children in need whilst at the same time bagging a great personal challenge for themselves.

Maybe when you think of climbing a mountain your knees scream, "no!" or trekking just isn't for you?  If so, we have the answer you've been waiting for!

GVN and GVN Foundation are excited to announce our newest physical challenge to raise funds for our partner in Vietnam; the Vietnam Cycling Challenge 2011.  The Vietnam Cycling Challenge gives participants the chance to cycle through some of the most beautiful and lush regions in the world and visit the children the cycling funds support.  Funds raised through this cycling trip will help to ensure the health, nutrition and education needs of disadvantaged and orphaned children are met.

Are you ready to give yourself a confidence boost in 2011, and profoundly impact the lives of some of the most beautiful children you will ever meet?

View our cycle challenge trailer here:

Visit our website for more information or to apply online:

Kind regards,

Colin Salisbury
Founder and President
Global Volunteer Network

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011 - A Year with Benefits?

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?

Whilst it's well proven that volunteering abroad provides numerous benefits to communities in need, it's not often that we take the time to validate the huge personal benefits which can be gained from international volunteering.

Next year, when you look back on 2011, what do you hope to take from it?

Put aside just a few minutes to watch this slideshow we've put together illustrating the top 10 benefits to international volunteering, or read the full report here:

GVN's Top 5 most popular programs include community aid projects in Kenya and Peru, working with orphans in Vietnam and Rwanda, or conservation in New Zealand.

Check out our available programs here, and find one to suit you:

Take the plunge, change lives, and like GVN's 14,000 past volunteers join a program and volunteer abroad in 2011!

Kind regards,

Colin Salisbury
Founder and President
Global Volunteer Network

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year - What's in store for 2011?

I'd like to start this blog post by wishing you a very Happy New Year!

In 2010, memorable events such as the Vancouver Olympics, the first ever World Cup held in Africa, the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, and the amazing rescue of the 33 Chilean miners were occasions to joyously reflect upon.  2010 was also the year humanity was tested by devastating earthquakes, floods, conflict, food shortages, and unimaginable poverty and inequality. I am so proud of GVN and all of our volunteers, donors, partners and supporters who rallied together during difficult times in 2010 to rise to the aid of those who need it most.

On reflection I feel that at GVN we have learned so much about assisting underprivileged communities and we are now ready to take our knowledge and experience to the next level and think big for 2011.

As we begin this New Year we do so with renewed vigour and focus.  We have a vision for what's in store for 2011 and beyond, and we're inviting you to be part of it!  Over the next few days, in sync with our email series, I will also be sharing on our blog our plans for the future, and posting some empowering ideas about how you can contribute to positive change in 2011.

But, if you're like me, and you can't wait to get involved right away then be sure to check out our website:

On behalf of everyone at GVN, I would like to wish you a safe and happy New Year, and I look forward to building dreams and changing lives with you in 2011!

Kind regards,

Colin Salisbury
Founder and President
Global Volunteer Network