At home, I work as a nurse in a busy emergency room in Boston MA. I am used to seeing and caring for people that are sick and people that may be dying of a chronic illness. It was very challenging for me to be around people suffering and dying from HIV/AIDs and not being able to provide them with the care I am used to. The practice of medicine is very different in Tanzania since there are limited supplies and resources at your disposal. People are required to be much more self-sufficient, even when gravely ill. I had to adjust to the fact that just because it is not what I am used to, does not mean it is wrong. I had to respect cultural norms and learn to do what I could within my means for the ill individuals I encountered.
Traveling to Tanzania for volunteering I had no expectations. I had never volunteered in a foreign country and I had never traveled to such a place alone. This was a wonderful experience for me. Not only did I meet some pretty amazing people (local Tanzanias’ and other volunteers) but I also learned a lot about different cultures that will leave a lasting affect on me. Some useful tips for other volunteers are:
Packing: Wear layers. Tanzania Arusha is breezy in the mornings but gets very hot in the afternoon. At dusk it gets very buggy, so it is nice to have long sleeves/pants on. Dress respectful according to the culture, cover your shoulders and don’t wear short shorts. You will most likely stand out as a foreigner, you don’t need to draw more attention to yourself with your clothes.
Understand you can’t change everything in the limited time you are there. There are things that you are going to see that are really challenging to stand by and watch, like the extreme poverty, hunger and illness of people and animals. You can’t fix it all, you can temporarily help people but you have to be realistic that this is a way of life for some people in Tanzania.
Try and learn Swahili before traveling to Tanzania. Many people do speak English, but it is common to run into people that only speak Swahili. So it will help you get around, meet locals and enjoy your time
Bring your own first aid kit, medicines, bug spray and sunblock. These are things that will be helpful while your traveling and may be challenging to find while your away.
If you would like to donate clothes, food or house hold goods, i would recommend bring a second piece of luggage. Most airlines will allow an extra luggage if you are volunteering.
Be careful and cautious traveling alone while in Tanzania. You should not run into any problems if you use caution; however here are some warnings: a lot of people will approach you and try to sell you things, do not follow people that are trying to lure you to stores. Do not agree to a taxi/bota bota ride if you do not agree on a set price and they do not know where you are going.
Google Maps does work in Tanzania, i found it very useful in making my way around
Dala Dala’s are affordable and easily accessible, just make sure you know the name of the area you are going to. If you have any issues the Dala Dala drivers will guide you to the correct bus if you ask.
You will be charged more for things at the market if you are a foreigner. Try to learn the local prices for things.
My time in Cartagena was wonderful. I met so many lovely women and men through my time spent at the foundation, especially the women I worked with. Although sometimes I felt that I could be doing something more effective or instantly productive to some people’s lives I soon realized that the need for emotional support and basic health education is monumental too. I offered to give basic English lessons at the end of the group sessions every morning and I was so pleased to see how enthusiastic the parents at the foundation were to learn after not having much opportunity to beforehand. I spent a lot of time with the toddlers too, to make sure I spent as full a day as possible volunteering and they were so adorable and I found it very rewarding to see them remember me and developing character - even over the period I was there.
I think it’s a beautiful, inspiring, sprawling city that has a lot of social issues at its core but is fundamentally full of great charming people who make the place so vibrant and welcoming. I’d love to return one day!
I wish I had been able to stay for longer and bring more supplies for the Hospital and Clinic. I was impressed with the connection Abroaderview has arranged with the local hospital. This is a unique volunteer program. I knew I would not be able to change the way healthcare works in Honduras, but still it was very difficult to see things that so easily could be improved just by some logistics, more education, and better supplies. I am now thinking of ways I can help Honduras in the future. I Appreciated the unique opportunity to travel to La Ceiba with my daughter before she begins college and introduce her to another culture and climate and a very different way of life and level of health care. The local coordinator and all the people associated with him that we interacted with all placed a high priority on our safety. He only used cab drivers that he knew and has worked with many times. He checked in with us frequently and checked in with our host family and interpreter when he present with us to make sure we were making safe decisions about where to go and how to get there. I was surprised to say that the donation supplies I brought ended up being a highlight. I brought many things used for surgery here in US, things that were extra or leftover or expired or no longer sterile. They were excited! And fascinated by many things they have never seen. I brought one very fancy dressing for a wound. The head nurse immediately sent us to a post op patient and had us clean her wound and apply it. And wished we had more.
My trip to Costa Rica with A Broader View was probably one of the best experiences of my life. Just like everyone would be if they came to a foreign country alone, I was nervous that something would go wrong or I would find the experience too difficult. With the support of the coordinator, her family, ABV in America, my volunteer location and the people of CR, I was the happiest person ever. I got to volunteer as well as learn the unique history of Escazu, CR and the local people. The US and CR have so many differences, but by coming to Escazu I have a new appreciation for happiness. Seeing the kids of the kindergarten come to school with big smiles of their faces reminded me that happiness isn’t based on the things that you have, but rather what you make of it!
At my age 70....I always wanted to do some volunteer work and ABV USA looked to me as a good organization and Nepal did sound as a very interesting location with many needs, I traveled with 2 of my best friends from NYC. The orientation day 1 was provided with information about the program places to go, and ways to go. I got a cell phone from the country and eat lunch at a local restaurant, orientation was good by the local coordinator. I worked on the school in the morning and library in the afternoon, the school was challenging because there were physically disabled children in the same class with the regular children, but it was a very satisfying experience and heart warming to see how the able children help the disabled to get around the school. In the library was a lot of fun working with the children from the community different ages, loving, very polite. The host family was wonderful. I was happy that the coordinator was the head of the host family because he was there to help with any questions or concerns. The whole family was wonderful. Meals were good, I eat everything. Nepali food was delicious and I did not get sick from eating it. I am glad I went to Nepal, it was a very good experience.
I really could have not asked for a better experience. The senior center in CR was the highlight of my trip, even on top of the vacation week I took beforehand. Every person I met was friendly to me, which fueled me to give my best effort in my project. I could tell that the workers and residents really appreciated my work. They answered all my questions. They appreciated that I was communicating in Spanish to them. They could tell I was really enjoying myself. I am still in contact with a couple of the workers! On my last day, one of the workers gave a speech in front of all the residents basically giving thanks to us the volunteers. Then a couple residents said a few words, but the most memorable thing was that a resident said that their country is always open to us in the future. I cannot express how grateful I am for this experience. It was hard to say goodbye, especially since some residents even shed some tears. They want me to come back soon! Seeing the impact I made, for what little time I was there, was just breathtaking. When I came back to the US, I really missed my time in Costa Rica. This experience has given me a new outlook on life and on my future, which is invaluable.
My experience in Ecuador went so far beyond my expectations. I loved how welcoming and friendly my host family was. They made me feel comfortable and made my time in Ecuador 10x better. Everyone that I worked with at the projects were patient and understanding of my limited Spanish ability, and despite the language barrier I was able to learn so much from them. I would highly recommend this program to anyone who is interested in experiencing a new culture, and getting some real hands on experience in the field of Occupational Therapy.
My favorite memory of the trip would either be traveling on the weekends to different parts of Ecuador or just hanging out with my host family during meals. The weekend travels were so awesome because I got to see a new part of the world unlike anything I had ever experienced, and I got to do some awesome activities. Hanging out with my host family was great because I got to be fully immersed in Ecuadorian culture, and they taught me so much about the history of Quito and interesting things about Ecuador.
This experience was more than just the “Dental Volunteering” you sign up for. You are exposed to an honest view of the country that you would fail to meet if you were on the standard tourist trail. Personally, I found this experience humbling and it has motivated me to make charitable work a significant part of any life. I look forward to being back in Nepal sometime soon.
Just a quick note to let you know that Kathryn returned from Peru today. What a fantastic time she had with everyone. Maria Elena was the perfect fit for her first journey abroad and alone. She was truly a Peruvian mother to her and an excellent guide. The week was filled with excitement and warm and caring relationships. The kids were very special to her, as well as her Spanish instructor. A small child on the side of the road, selling insignificant little candies late at night, until she earned 20 Sol, was asleep at the corner of the building, with chapped, cracked and blood dried lips bring tears to Kathryn's eyes telling us about her. She was deeply affected by the entire experience. Your professional expertise is very much appreciated, as are all of the wonderful people who make A Broader View possible in Cuzco. It is a special program, providing very special human connections. We hope to participate in another journey with your organization in the future. We will certainly recommend the organization to others. Sincerely, Rita Clare (Katheryn's mother)
Quito and Galapagos are almost like different countries! The people are incredibly friendly in both places, and in the Galapagos, I was not at all worried about theft or walking alone at night. We learned a lot about their struggles with invasive species, worked really hard in the fields and helping with their efforts to keep turtles in a safe environment but had a chance to explore the island every afternoon.
This was a great project for myself and my 14 year old daughter, who wants to become a veterinarian. The educational/experience value for her was tremendous. She really grew up a lot in 4 weeks.
The best leisure activity was the day-long trip around the Island of St Cristobal. We never needed to leave the island - 90% of the species in the Galapagos are there, including Blue-footed boobies and tortoises and many other birds. To see penguins and the lava tubes you would go to the islands but your choices are very long boat rides or flying, so we took day tours and snorkeled and saw everything I would want to see.
Volunteering in Nepal was an eye opening experience for me. I got to see how people make do with whatever is available rather than complain about what they don’t have. I had a lot of fun at the school. A lot of teachers do not speak English that well (including English teachers) but they still make an effort to try and communicate. The kids really don’t know any English but they also do their best and try to play with me or show me some of their culture (like dancing) which is always very fun. Although at first I doubted I would be able to make much of an impact, I got to see little things once in a while that they’ve pick up along the way: like giving back something that I lent them or stopping fights in the classroom which is really heartwarming. The home stay is also very comfortable; the host family was very welcoming and other volunteers on site were a great help to get used to the very different environment. Not every day was necessarily easy or gratifying, but the whole trip was definitely worth it. I stayed for 6 weeks which was long but it gave me a chance to see a lot of places in Nepal other than Kathmandu and that was amazing. The sights even just on the ways are gorgeous and there are so many different, unique places to visit that I never felt bored. I also did the Nepali language immersion which was pretty useful to learn phrases and communicate with the kids especially. I recommend that too.
It was a great experience going to Honduras. I did learn a whole lot during the two weeks I was there. It was an eye opening experience to see healthcare services in a different country and how they have to deal with limited supplies. I had a different expectation for the trip like I would travel to different locations to provide care, but I was able to give a lot just by volunteering at the hospital and clinic. My favorite memory about the program was able to work alongside with people I have never met before and speak a totally different language.
The host family house was pretty nice, in a safe area of La Ceiba and we had wifi so I was still connected with the rest of the world. There is always a ghetto side to any city, and La Ceiba is no exception. However, the coordinator pointed that out on the first day and made sure that everyone knows to stay away. The local people are very nice otherwise.
I absolutely loved my month in Cusco! My experience surpassed all of my expectations and I am really sad that my time there ended so fast. My time at the primary school was amazing. I rotated through the three classes of five-year-old students to teach English. Most of the time I was given complete control of the class for the day and led activities to teach basic English vocabulary and concepts. I tried to make the lessons engaging by having the students act out different words, creating competitions between groups of students, and teaching them songs in English. It was amazing to see how interested they were in learning English, how much effort they put into practicing, and how much progress they made over the course of the days I spent in each class. I also loved getting to know the students in a non-academic setting: talking with them before class, eating lunch with them, and playing with them at recess. They were so excited to see me every day and would scream “Profe de ingles!!” and then come running over to give me a hug — it made coming to school every day so much fun. Additionally, the teachers were so supportive and helpful during my time at the school. I was really sad that the school had vacation for my last week and a half in Cusco because I did not want to end my time there. My other volunteer position was working at an orphanage for teenage girls. The orphanage did not need much help running activities so instead, the role of volunteers was more to spend time with the girls and be a friend. I spent most of my time in the ceramics room where the girls work for weeks to paint the most beautiful plates, mugs, and vases. They tried to teach me how to paint as well (which I was terrible at) but I had so much fun talking with all of the girls and listening to music while we painted. It was amazing to me how positive and friendly all of the girls were. They were always excited to ask me a million questions, show me what they were doing, give me/each other a hug, or just sit by me. I tried to get to know as many girls as possible because it was important to me to be more than just another random face—I wanted to truly get to know them on a personal level and be a friend they could feel comfortable with. I was able to go on a field trip with the orphanage during my last week and it was so much fun to spend time with the girls in a new environment, witness their excitement at traveling outside Cusco, and be a part of their special day. The loyalty and love the girls have for each other inspired me and I will never forget my time with them. Outside of volunteering, I was lucky enough to do a lot of traveling while I was in Cusco. I did a tour of the city, visited the sacred valley, the salt mines, the last Inca bridge, Machu Picchu, Rainbow Mountain, and Humantay Lake. I loved all of these adventures, made some great friends on the trips, and was amazed by the beautiful places I got to see. I also enjoyed exploring the city of Cusco. There is so much to see and do: the museums, restaurants, and markets are all incredible, I took a Peruvian cooking class, I visited an Incan planetarium, I went to see live music, and so much more. Throughout my stay in Cusco, I lived with Maria Elena and I truly could not have asked for a better host Mom. She made me feel completely at home and I am so grateful for how caring she was. The food was incredible, the beds were comfortable, and Maria Elena was the best. They love she shows to all of her ABV volunteers is amazing. She is both a mother figure and an amazing friend. She gave great advice, was so supportive of all aspects of my life, and was so much fun to spend time with. I felt like I had plenty of freedom but also felt like I was always been cared for—it was a perfect balance. Also, there were often other volunteers living in the house and I had so much fun getting to know them. We did trips together, went out to dinner, or just hung out after a long day. It truly felt like we were a family. Overall, I am so grateful for the unforgettable experience I had in Cusco. It was more amazing than I could have ever imagined.
From the beginning, I knew that this nonprofit was the right organization to help me volunteer abroad. The support staff was extremely helpful and thorough, and my emails always received responses within minutes. Also, the detailed and informative volunteer guide made me feel comfortable and gave me the knowledge I needed to prepare for my arrival in Honduras. I volunteered in two hospitals throughout my time in La Ceiba, but I spent most of my time observing and assisting doctors at the Hospital. I was in La Ceiba for two weeks, building relationships with the doctors, nurses, and other medical staff at the hospital. By volunteering in the hospital every day, I learned a lot about the differences between the Honduran and American healthcare systems; one of the key lessons I took away from my experience is how much we take for granted in the United States. Seeing the hospital in La Ceiba operate without electricity (blackouts), with no access to computers, and with a shortage of doctors truly opened my eyes to this issue. In addition to learning about the health care system, I observed various types of surgeries and operations performed by many different doctors. Shadowing these doctors was a great learning experience and a dream come true for a premedical student and aspiring doctor such as myself. One of the fondest memories I had of my shadowing experience is that of a baby being born right in front of my eyes. I never wanted to become a doctor so badly as when I saw the expression of joy on the mother’s face as the doctor held up her baby for the first time. Overall, I had a wonderful time volunteering in the hospitals in La Ceiba, learning about various aspects of the medical field, and experiencing a new culture and environment. Looking back, my two weeks in Honduras flew by so quickly, and I am happy I took the opportunity to volunteer with abroad with ABV.
This nonprofit was able to help me throughout my registration process. If I had any question they were quick to respond back. Even during my stay at Costa Rica, I was able to contact ABV quite easily over the chat/email/whatsapps. Overall my stay in Costa Rica was extremely nice. The coordinator was able to help me when I had an issue and took care of it properly and very fast. Abroaderview did a good job of finding a nice host family to stay with and provide me with all the information before I went to Costa Rica.
My accommodation was very nice. I felt like I was at home. I was able to freely access anything I want such as the T.V., food, etc. The meals were very well prepared, never got sick. I liked every food I ate, and it was different each day/meal. I felt very safe during my stay there. Security was least of my worries as there was never a moment where I was scared or felt unsafe.
I got to develop relationships with the senior people and the staff at my volunteer placement, it was a senior care center. Volunteer work varies from day to day but focuses on personal interactions and stimulation with the residents, feeding, therapy needs, as well as light maintenance jobs like sweeping, cleaning.
All in all, I am VERY satisfied with ABV and their efforts in order for my volunteering in CR to run smoothly.
It was a wonderful experience volunteering in Cartagena. The Abroaderview immersion program gives a unique opportunity to learn Spanish and at the same time learn more about the Colombian people and culture. The Foundation in which we worked with my daughter is surprisingly well run and really makes a difference for poor families and their children. It was an honor to be part of it and to get to know the adorable children and the fantastic staff.
This was my first volunteer abroad program in Ghana and I’m so glad I picked this one out of the many others I sifted through online. The coordinator’s background on how he started the orphanage was truly inspirational. I could go on and on for pages about my experience but there’s not enough space here. All I will say is to come with no expectations + an open mind. Was so touched by this experience that I plan on continuing to help as much as I can (social media, fundraising, pal-to-pal). Even got one of my friends to strongly consider doing this next summer after she saw all the pictures that I posted. Do hope to come back sometime in the future to visit these amazing kids.
The scenario by which I was introduced to A Broader View and the trip that would ultimately change my life played out as follows:
My friend: “Hey, Corin, I was thinking, and feel free to say no: would you be willing to go down to Peru with me for two weeks to do medical work? It was just an idea I had.”
Me: “Um, sure! Why not.”
… and thus did I find myself, hardly a month later, sleeping in a Peruvian bed in the house of a family I had known for exactly thirty minutes.
My experience as a medical volunteer in Peru was beyond the power of words to describe; it changed my life, and my outlook on life, permanently. From the days that I spent at the hospital helping mentally and physically challenged children to grow stronger, healthier, and feel more loved, to exploring the city of Cusco and the Peruvian countryside, to living and sharing a home with a family that was willing to open its doors to me and my best friend, the experience brought new memories, awesome moments, and learning opportunities that I could never have even hoped for before. To try to describe my trip in mere words is an exercise in futility. I can only say that I have been truly privileged to have been a part of this program, and will never forget Elena, our hostess; Emily, our fellow volunteer who became a sister to us; Jhoselin, the two year old hospital patient who I fed, cared for, and grew to love each day at the clinic; the Stafford family, medical volunteers from Texas with whom we grew incredibly close; Enrique, the physical therapist who took me under his wing and guided me through work at the clinic; Maximus, our host family’s trusty, faithful terrier; and so many other people who helped my friend and I on our journey through life in the hospital, Cusco, and Peru.
This has been one of my favorite travels of my whole life. I have done a lot of traveling and have had mostly good experiences but my time with A Broader View has been one of my favorites of all of my travels. The host family experience was incredible. My host Mom welcomed me with open arms from day one and was always checking in on me to be sure that I had everything I needed to be comfortable and feel supported.
I really enjoyed my volunteer site- a girls orphanage. I was able to really build relationships with the girls in the orphanage over my month long time with them. The girls were so welcoming and inclusive of me, I really was part of the family. Felt very safe the whole time, a safe neighborhood and a safe city (Cusco and Machu Picchu). I didn’t feel like such a tourist and like I stood out even though I am very fair skinned. I felt comfortable and at peace walking around. The locals are very friendly and many lookouts for tourists. My going away party at the orphanage was so lovely. The girls prepared a big poster with me and some made small gifts for me. I brought a cake, cookies, chips and sodas. The leader of the program did a little speech and then some of the girls talked. I then received the card and through a few tears shared with the girls how thankful I was for each one of them. I really got to know the girls and build relationships with them. It was so hard to say goodbye—which really indicates a lot of love and relationships built.
Volunteering in Belize with A Broader View was probably one of the best experiences of my life. Just like everyone would be if they came to a foreign country alone, I was nervous that something would go wrong or I would find the experience too difficult. With the support of the local coordinator, her staff, ABV in the USA, my volunteer location and the people of Belize, I was the happiest person ever. I got to volunteer as well as learn the unique history of Belize, and the indigenous people. The USA and Belize have so many differences, but by coming to Belize I have a new appreciation for happiness. Seeing the kids of the orphanage go to school with big smiles on their faces reminded me that happiness isn’t based on the things that you have, but rather what you make of it!