My first experience with All Hands was in September 2017 for Louisiana Flood Recovery. I was only there for two and a half short weeks but I loved every minute of it. I ended up going home with the urge to return and I ended up volunteering in the Florida Keys for a little over 6 weeks. The staff and other participants only make the overall experience better. Regardless of your level of expertise, you are able to make a difference and have a team to support you. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing the looks on homeowners' faces when we finish a project. The gratitude can't be put into words. I would 100% volunteer with All Hands again and would recommend it to anyone looking to volunteer for a fantastic cause.
My first volunteer experience with All Hands and Hearts (formerly All Hands Volunteers) was in April 2017 in Denham Springs, Louisiana. I signed up to volunteer for 2 weeks during the recovery phase after the flooding in August 2016. Going into my experience, I had no previous knowledge or skills required to build homes. The staff is incredibly patient and helpful as many volunteers are, as I was, completely new to this kind of trade. This experience was absolutely life changing. The people, both the staff and volunteers, were so authentic, passionate, and dedicated to serving the communities affected by disaster. The communal living, while a bit of adjustment, functions successfully and encourages bonding, connection, and respect among volunteers and staff members. AHAH is an organization that radiates integrity and remains true to their mission and values. Also, you do not pay to volunteer. This creates an open door to bring in more volunteers that otherwise may have been deterred by costs. All are welcome, all are accepted, all are appreciated.
I arrived in Houston in February as a volunteer for AHAH. Originally I had the intention of staying on for 2 1/2 weeks, however, within a day I knew I never wanted to leave. The common bond between staff and volunteers of wanting to make a difference and helping rebuild communities was incredibly obvious. It was an honor to be a volunteer. It's a dream come true to be on staff with this AMAZING organization.
I was supposed to volunteer just for few weeks, but after few days I knew already that I was going to stay longer, way longer. Now it's been 10 months straight on project, but the feeling didn't change. Every day, in this organization, you will have the chance to meet amazing people from all over the world, both volunteers and homeowners, you will listen to their stories, and how this experience changed them, and nothing is more satisfying than that.
I volunteered in Louisiana 2017. I planned to go for just three weeks after I turned 18, ended up staying months. The work and the community you’re given when volunteering with All Hands and Hearts is amazing and something I will carry with me till the end of my life. The work feels so rewarding and the family you make during your time is one that’ll stay with you for longer than you know. I love how personal it became. Everything you do and you involve yourself in with this organization because personal and it’s amazing!
I volunteered at the Houston project. Great organization, great people. Efficient, flexible, and effective.
This non-profit allows people to drop in and out to do as much work as they want. The transition is seamless and very fast paced. You can feel the difference you are making day one. The community of like minded people makes it easy to connect and work hard together for the cause. This was the best experience I've ever had and the most rewarding. Highly recommended.
I came on board with All Hands and Hearts as a Volunteer in Houston in December of 2017. I was only in Houston for a couple of weeks but my experience there with All Hands and Hearts completely altered the trajectory of my life. I have spent the last 2 months Volunteering in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico and just recently joined the staff here as the Volunteer Engagement Coordinator. I am extremely honored to work for this organization and plan to stay on board for as long as possible. AHAH has an incredible platform and a method of empowering volunteers to truly make an impact in areas of great need. I like to say that All Hands and Hearts has an open door policy because people are welcome to come from all walks of life, skill levels, etc. and are given an opportunity to make a powerful and lasting impact. I would strongly suggest that anyone who can to become involved with this organization either through volunteering or donating.
I have worked with many non profits throughout the past 7 years and All Hands and Hearts tops my list of great organizations to be a part of. From the mission, to the work, the structure, the transparency, and the community interaction they have a very strong organization and it is a true pleasure to be able to contribute to the difference they are making. Volunteers are the center of All Hands and its great to see an organization care so deeply about both the communities effected by the disasters but also the people coming out to lend a hand.
It's an understatement to say that this organization changed my life. I originally came to volunteer in Louisiana for a week, and was hooked. I've been on program now for the last eight months, and it is so wonderful to see people come together to help rebuild communities. Participating with All Hands and Hearts is a great privilege - everyone here is so warm, welcoming and helpful.
I have worked on 3 projects with this nonprofit ( Detroit, The US Virgin islands, and Texas). Each project has been very professionally ran with a lot of thought and heart put into every aspect of how they operate.
I arrived in Houston in October 2017. Not sure what I was getting into or how long I would say. What I found was a group of like minded individuals with huge hearts and a desire to create a better world. Today is my six month anniversary of the all hands and hearts Houston program. I am still here and have actually joined as a site supervisor for the rebuild part of our response with no plans to leave anytime soon. A great organization filled with wonderful people making a difference
I signed up to volunteer with All Hands and Hearts for one week in the beginning of September after hurricane Harvey hit. I thought I'd just work that week and go back to everyday life. That did not happen. I continued volunteering for the past 7 months. All Hands and Hearts is an amazing organization. It helps train every day people to learn the skills to help in disaster relief. It helps rebuild hope and strength in each other and the communities we help in. All Hands and Hearts is the good that the world needs to see. It is a family. It is home.
All Hands and Hearts is an organization committed to using its resources to helping the communities that it works in. The organization prides itself on being efficient and transparent so as to ensure that donors and volunteers can see the impact that they are having on effected communities. In addition to its impact on these communities, All Hands and Hearts consistently affects its volunteers. It is a volunteer powered organization which allows individuals to come without having to pay for the experience itself as well as for room and board. This model ensures that there is a diversity of individuals (age, background, etc) working together to make a difference. This, along with its impact on the community, is why All Hands and Hearts has had an impact on thousands of community members and volunteers. I would recommend this organization to individuals from all walks of life.
I volunteered for 10 weeks, I would have done more but I am not American. My experience was one week of gutting out a house and the remaining nine weeks as base manager. Meeting the residents of the house was great and it enabled me to understand more of their circumstances and how much they needed our help. It was an honour to help them. Working with the All Hands and Hearts staff and volunteers was very special, we were all there to help those in need and this was getting acheived. My base manager role involved me ensuring our accommodation was well maintained and stocked accordingly, as well undertaking the catering and food shopping. This was a challenge but I enjoyed this as I got to use my organisation skills. Whatever one does in volunteering you are helping, as well as learning skills and how to live in a communal setting. A great experience.
I was lucky enough to spend 3 weeks volunteering in Houston with this fantastic organization in February this year. Both staff and volunteers were welcoming, enthusiastic and competent for the massive task that is presented from the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. The open and flexible working environment leads to close bonds between volunteers and staff alike and allows quick up-skilling on both the mucking and gutting projects and also on the re-building of houses. I would highly recommend anyone with a spare week or month to take the plunge, don the purple shirt and get your hands dirty with a great bunch of folks.
I came to All Hands and Hearts for the Texas Project back in November for Hurricane Harvey. I had no experience with a hammer, let alone deconstructing a house. I have learned so much, and the knowledge I have learned has been so useful. Not only does All Hands and Hearts teach you things, but being on project is such a life changing experience. I have met so many new faces, from all walks of life, and have truly enjoyed every moment on project. I highly recommend All Hands And Hearts to anyone looking to help, but not sure where to go or even what to do.
When I first learned about All Hands and Hearts in 2013, I had no idea what to expect when I first volunteered with them. I flew to the Philippines not knowing anyone or anything about the program, and few away rich with experiences, lifetime friends and a gnarly sunburn. I was hooked.
I recently finished my fourth project with All Hands and I am about to book my next fight to another project because they’re just that good at making you drink the volunteering koolaid.
How often do you find a program that is so insanely good at helping communities recover? While I was recently in Puerto Rico, we completed over 100 home repaires in just 6 weeks since the program started. At zero cost to the homeowner. It’s amazing to see the joy, relief and pure gratitude of the communities members faces.
Who are the volunteers? They’re retirees , college students, mothers, fathers, and even grandparents! Everyone can help with All Hands; and it’s practically free! All I have paid for is a plane ticket, and sometimes they give those to volunteers too.
Like many of the people I now support when I volunteer, I come from humble beginnings. From early childhood to my late teens, my limited wardrobe consisted of either donations from charities or clothes that my mother, who had left her home country of Vietnam during the war, would sew for me. I learned very early on to find joy in the simple things in life and have always believed, maybe naively so, that people are intrinsically good.
It is those humble beginnings that paved the way for my passion for volunteering. People have helped me and my family when I was younger, and I am now in a position to help others. Life comes full circle. Like many, I’ve experienced hardship and painful episodes of loss over the years, but volunteering has always put things in perspective for me. Such is the beauty of giving: the realization that in the end, the intangibles one receives go way beyond what one gives.
I never had the flexibility to take a year off to travel or to join projects for months on end like some of my fellow volunteers. I had to start working as soon as I graduated from school but I held on to the idea of giving back, and when there is a will there is a way! I recently celebrated 20 years of volunteering activities around the world, from orphanage visits to tutoring of underprivileged children, disaster relief or work in slum areas.
While helping out in Japan after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster of March 2011, a friend told me about an organization called All Hands Volunteers (AHV). I bookmarked the website. When AHV launched its response to Superstorm Sandy I expressed my interest and soon received an e-mail welcoming me to Project Long Island. I first joined the project in March 2013 and volunteered with AHV in New York on a total of nine different occasions that year alone.
The camaraderie with fellow volunteers coming from all walks of life but with a similar desire to help was instant and infectious. Logistics were made easy, allowing me to focus my limited time off work on helping rather than untangling administrative details. I had no technical knowledge but the projects were structured and I was provided with the guidance, safety measures, procedures and tools I needed. I witnessed first-hand the long-term impact of AHV’s work as several disaster response projects I joined turned into rebuild activities – in New York specifically, I was given a chance to further the response work I had started in early 2013 and help rebuild homes affected by Superstorm Sandy in Long Island in late 2013, Staten Island in 2014 and Brooklyn in 2015.
It has been two and a half years since my first AHV project. All Hands Volunteers has made it possible for me to volunteer around the world on 14 different projects to address the needs of areas struck by tornadoes, floods, typhoons and earthquakes. I've learned a lot, made lifetime friends, and still receive occasional updates from survivors I’ve assisted.
I do not have the energy of a 20-year-old; I do not have much free time beyond weekends and vacation days; I do not have the technical know-how of a construction worker or any specialized skills outside of my office desk work; I do not have big muscles; but I have heart and a strong desire to help, and AHV determined that it was good enough. They made it possible for me to make a difference. I am thankful.
Review from #MyGivingStory
My experience with All Hands was something that I would never expect. I came just for two weeks and ended up staying for 3 months. I was concern about the work but I realized that here everyone has a space to contribute and help no matter your age, skills or strength. I learnt so much about the Yolanda and how it affected the community (even years latter). The organization show us in a very clearly way what happened, what they are doing and how us, as volunteers, can help. Definitely one of the best experiences in my entire life!
Been with All Hands Volunteers for over a year now and have not regretted it one bit! I arrived in the Philippines in October 2014 to help with the recovery and rebuild of communities devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda, which hit Tacloban City in November 2013. The hard working days and the buckets of sweat were heavily rewarded with smiles from the community members and the local workers we worked alongside with for months. I have so many memories I will cherish forever. I acquired a lot of new skills as a volunteer and have matured as a person. Thank you AHV for the amazing experience!
When the Philippines were hit by Yolanda, I knew I needed to go and help by joining an iNGO. I came across AHV and decided that, after reading the organization's history, this is the NGO I want to volunteer with. I went to Project Leyte twice, volunteered at project Nepal and project Detroit. AHV is now my chosen NGO - it is not just an NGO, it is a family of like-minded, hard working and fun loving people. It is the people that make this organization what it is - people with such an incredible amount of creativity, energy, enthusiasm, community spirit and love for what they are doing. But it is also the AHV leadership, from David Campbell to board members who are not afraid to get down and dirty on location to AHV program/project managers that communicates and encourages volunteers and staff to take charge of their own projects and fund raising efforts. All in all, it is an organization that provides volunteers with learning and career opportunities within and outside the organization.
When I read about All Hands Volunteers and the work they do i was very impressed. I applied for 3 months and they were the most satisfying 3 months of my life so far. I met people from all around the world with different life experiences to share. I did work that i didn't even know i was capable of doing. Working on site was pretty amazing, it's really cool to be able to see the impact of all the hard work. I personally like the idea of using physical strength to build things that will help stabilize the lives of those in need, and in the end of the day you will get to see the progress. Another thing that i liked was that the organization is run by considerate people who understand that every individual has different strengths and abilities, and so they don't pressure any volunteer to be like another. I volunteered on Project Leyte in the Philippines and had a great time. Everyone was friendly, they taught me how to do things on site since i had no previous experience with this kind of work. The project seemed to be running smoothly and was very organised. When i got a chance to base manage i saw all the things that were happening in the background. How hard everyone was working to ensure maximum amount of work was being done while making sure that volunteers were taken care of. The staff worked very hard, sometimes till very late and their love for the project was so visible it was amazing. Another thing i liked was that they were very transparent about things like expenses and donations. The fundraisers were always innovative and fun! I loved the way the organization had a great relationship with the local community, this helps volunteers have a more cultural experience. I was also impressed with the living conditions and the fact that we had security, helped me feel a lot safer since i was 19 when i volunteered and it was my first time travelling alone.
All in all... I think AHV is a great organization. The work they do is amazing and the organization is full of wonderful people who will help make for a great experience. Volunteering helps one have a different perspective on life and helps a person grow.
I am hoping to volunteer with All Hands Volunteers again!
Great mission with devoted workers and low overhead administrative costs. Many volunteers sign up for extension of service time and return for multiple projects. At times bare boned but tries to keep everyone in the loop as far as function and spending; ie totally transparent.
After the April 2015 Earthquake in Nepal, I got hit by this urge to go and help with relief and rebuild as a volunteer. I reviewed between 6 or 7 different organisations and finally decided to go with All Hands Volunteers. The financial transparency and professionalism of the organisation is remarkable, the staff are fun loving yet fully focused and the project work they do for affected communities surpassed my expectations. The living is community based and working conditions are tough - but the cheerful, hardworking, good hearted and happy people this organisation attracts - makes up for all the sweat and grime shed on the different work sites. I did just three weeks in Nepal and just couldn't wait to go back on another project and so went to Philippines for another two weeks in a span of 3 months. It wont be long before I return to volunteer on another project with AHV. They've kinda got me addicted.....ha ha.
I volunteered with all hands for a month thinking it would be a one time thing. I was very wrong. I was blown away by the organization, the work they do, and the people I volunteered with. It's amazing what they do with so little, how they change communities far beyond just building shelter, and bringing together people who really care. I scrapped all of my summer plans and now am on my third project with all hands this year.
I had the opportunity to volunteer with AHV in Philippines for 10 days and I had an amazing time.
Their working model is a success in the Philippines , contributing with a huge impact to the community affected by Typhoon Yolanda.
AHV! My Lifesaver! Thank you for being our hand, just like what i said before you all made our loads lighter and smoother. To Everyone in AHV, I want you all to know that we *Taclobanons* truly appreciate the effort and kindness to help us through.,Without the effort and support we cannot imagine what we could have bbeen right now.! You've all showed how important it is to help others without getting paid.Love you all forever!
I first volunteered with All Hands in 2013, and have returned multiple times in order to continue working alongside this incredible organization. Staff members are committed, volunteers are passionate, and All Hands helps those in need through interactive, community-based work. In just a few days I will be heading to my sixth project in the Philipinnes, and Nepal immediately after. I could not speak highly enough of my experiences with this organization and the people I have met through it. Volunteers of all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels are accepted, and I encourage anyone who wants to make a difference in the lives of others to apply.
Being the overly cautious type, I watched All Hands from afar for about a year before I joined a project. I first volunteered with AHV in Nepal. I came for 5 weeks with the thought that if I hated it I could easily survive for that long. Well guess what, I loved it. Just 2 short months later I am now back in Nepal with AHV again. This time my husband joined me and we are staying 3 months. I have no doubt that we will join yet another AHV project in the future.
I only spent 2 weeks with this charity but even in that short amount of time I learnt so much and had the most incredible experience (I would have extended if I could have!). The staff at base were helpful, understanding and cared for each volunteer, making sure they got fully involved and learnt what they could, even if we were limited for time. The sense of community on base and off is amazing. You really do immerse yourself in the community. I spent most of my 2 weeks working, dancing, singing and chatting with the local carpenters and volunteers which shifting concrete and helping build foundations for a new dormitory for children (the site was called Streetlight). I enjoyed it so much I passed on my experience to 3 friends who are now there loving it as much as I did. It really is a cause that you feel close to and it feels like you are making a practical difference, using your skills and acquiring new ones as you work. I couldn't recommend it enough to new and old volunteers alike.
Excellent volunteer experience.you get a sense of family and camaraderie,plus the work done is beyond rewarding.
AHV is a great way to actually get your hands dirty and make a difference instead of just wondering where the money you donate goes when you send 3quid to a massive organisation. You definitely feel like you're helping so many people and theres loads of ways to use your own skills to improve the running of things or even just help other volunteers learn how to do something like, oh I don't know, build a house!
I am from Philippines and has volunteered in Tacloban, Leyte which was devastated by the typhoon Haiyan last November 2013.
Being a first time volunteer, i can't help but be nervous, but after a day I was able to fit in and feel in love with AHV in their amazing job that they have done with the people of Leyte where they built homes and repaired boats in Samar which was their livelihood. And also being a Filipino I was able to communicate better with the locals and was able to hear their amazing story of survival during the typhoon and have said that the only NGO actively working in rebuilding and helping the community was AHV, in fact almost 2 years on after the typhoon Haiyan you can still see AHV volunteers working, organized fundraising and challeging themselves like shaving their hair for fundraising.
They have made friends with the locals and already considered AHV as their extended family member which really inspired me to volunteer again for AHV.
I had great two months working with All Hands in Tacloban, Philippines. It's a great organisation with loads of opportunities to get involve with projects at all levels. The staff are great, housing and food absolutely fine and they attract great volunteers from all over the world. If you want to make a difference and are happy to get dirty and sweaty, AHV are fab. I loved it and would have spent longer on project if my life allowed. I highly recommend this organisation
I have watched this charity from afar as one of my sons, Dom Bryant volunteered in the Philippines (Project Leyte) in Nov14. His 3 months stint turned into nearly 12. He is full of praise for the organisation and what they achieve, and it has changed his life. I have no doubt he will want to rejoin AHV after a few months away.
I visited the project in the Philippines in August 2015 for a few days and was made very welcome at the various sites where work was going on... I even gave a limited hand on one day shifting buckets of sand, gravel, etc on a new build.
What strikes me about this organisation is its ability to take in enthusiastic volunteers from all parts of the world, in the main with no disaster recovery or building skills, and linked in with local paid workers, create teams that improve the lives of the communities impacted by natural disasters. Apart from volunteers gaining a range of skills from carpentry to teamwork in exchange for their labour, the communities gain what they want (as they are asked), e.g. housing, school buildings, play areas, etc. AHV also works with other NGO's , often through supplying the labour force to turn others funding into the infrastructure required. At its simplest level AHV will clear rubble and mud, plus demolish unsafe buildings if that is what is initially required. They remain flexible in their approach to what needs to be done and take on suggestions from their own volunteers.
This is an organisation that works with people at all levels, and from what I have seen, delivers. The fact that so many volunteers return for further periods with the organisation is a good indicator of its effectiveness, as is the welcome they receive from the communities they are assisting.
Nothing is perfect in this world however, here is an organisation that has good people doing good work.
I had an amazing experience with AHVs! A team oriented organization that really give warm hands to people in need! To top a cherry, they are one of the very few organizations that provide their volunteers accomandation and foods!
Originally committed to a month and a half with all hands but quickly decided I wanted to extend to five months. A really great experience so far. Will definitely be joining then again.
This is a place where all kinds of people can come together from across the world and participate and contribute to making a difference in people's lives. No level of experience is required which means that it remains open to everyone and people can come and bring their expertise.
It's a great organisation to be part of and a place you will return to time and time again!
I volunteered with All Hands in Brooklyn in 2015. I had planned to stay for 2 weeks, during my summer vacation. The staff was amazing, there were volunteers from so many places, the atmosphere was better than I could have wished for. After 10 days I extended my stay to 3 weeks. Every day at work I learned new things. There were people with no former experience as well as others who were familiar with tools or have build before. There were tasks for each and every one of us.
I can't wait to volunteer with All Hands again! I recommend them to everyone, looking for a way to help out, no matter if physically at the sites or by donating. In the end every little thing helps!
So, I just recently retuned home after five weeks of volunteering with all hands at their kathmandu, Nepal base. While there I learned that I had many choices as to what I could be doing as a volunteer. There was a project called 50 homes and another known rubble. 50 homes was broken down into sections that ultimately come together to form a temporary shelter for people who lost their homes. The sections: structure/wires/walls/roof. Rubble consisted of removing rubble from completely damaged homes in order to create a flat surface so that he families could one day rebuild. Out of these options I truly loved to rubble. It's hard, intense, and a great way to make sure you get a good nights sleep. From when I arrived to when I left everything felt well organized and I loved every moment. The staff was great and the volunteers were amazing. I have made friends that will
Last a lifetime and done something that I feel served a dire need. Overall, this was the best experience of my life thus far. Raffi's Rubble Rules!!!
This is an outstanding and amazing organization. I volunteered 3 months last summer and 3 months this year for project leyte. You meet amazing volunteers from all over the world and you really make a huge difference in the communities, from building homes to reconstructing a basketball court. All hands does whatever it takes to really make a positive difference in disaster relief areas. I had never volunteered before I joined all hands and it was the best thing I have ever done. It is a lot of hard work but there is plenty of fun while doing the work. The experiences I have had with this organization have changed my life forever in the best of ways. I highly recommend this organization it really makes a difference in the world and you can play a part by just volunteering. Ill be back again that is for sure.
I volunteered for project Leyte, and went into it with little expectations since it was my first time volunteering. Since day 1, I was shocked with how organized All Hands was. Especially considering there are 60-70 interchanging volunteers they are managing at a time. The work was not easy, but didn't feel like work in the end after seeing the impact we were making on th community.
I volunteered abroad with All Hands on their project in Leyte for a month doing deconstruction and building of temporary shelters. It was an amazing experience and a truly incredible organization. They are clear on their mission and the work they do is based on community needs and involves appropriate community partners. There is opportunity for volunteers to really get involved with the organization and to learn about humanitarian disaster responses. They were accepting of volunteers from all ages and walks of life and met the volunteers where there were in terms of appropriate work and expectations. Safety of their volunteers was paramount but they also ensure they had fun as well. It was an extraordinary group of incredible people to work with - and no egos which is rare. It doesn't surprise me at all that a year and a half after I left there are volunteers I started with that are still volunteering on various projects around the world with them - I would be doing the same but actually discovered I was pregnant while volunteering with them. And they were amazing supportive when I told them and modified my duties as I requested. Having worked for over 15 years in the non-profit arena I was very impressed with All Hands in so many ways including their passion, commitment to community directed projects, volunteer management, development and engagement, fundraising, and administration. A truly exceptional organization I look forward to volunteering with again in the future.
All Hands is an amazing non profit. I worked with them for four months in Bohol, Philippines. Planned on staying one month and extended until the project ended. Then I volunteered one month in Nepal and am currently volunteering in Dominica. They are organized and take excellent care of their volunteers. Everything is set up for volunteers from water, food, housing, work sites, tools, PPE, medical, etc... Everyone I have worked with in this organization is not just knowledgeable but also friendly and down to earth. The organization does a great job at being completely transparent. Anyone and everyone can know exactly how the money is spent and why. In addition they are willing and make an effort to teach volunteers how everything works so that anyone who is interested could potentially take on a role as staff. For every site that is worked on there is a team leader who is trained by the staff to be prepared for anything out in the field and who can take care of their team by making sure everyone knows what is being planned for the work site and have enough water etc... I can't say enough about how wonderful All Hands is. It's a true non-profit helping wherever and whenever they can.
I joined All Hands back in January 2014 to help with the victims of Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. Our first jobs were to bring down the structures that were not safe for people and clear out the debris left by the typhoon. We were able to build great relationships with the families and the people we helped that we were practically adopted as part of the family. We were invited to dinners, family parties, family outings, even including family events such as baptisms. The success in building structures such as transitional homes, core/single family homes, fishing boats has endeared the volunteers even more to the families. Some of the locals voiced their sadness knowing that eventually the projects will end and the volunteers will leave. They have even equated the volunteers leaving as a family member moving away.
I worked as a residential volunteer for 4 weeks in Kathmandu, Nepal. I was impressed with the rigor of work, the scope of the projects, and the level of local community engagement on the part of All Hands Volunteers. While on site, I worked 6 days per week on a variety of projects (home building, learning center building/repair, displaced persons camps, rubble removal). AHV does not proselytize and is a secular organization.
Mushy as it sounds, volunteering with All Hands Volunteers has been by far, one of the best experiences of my life, and I expect that this organisation will always be a big part of my life, whether going to projects or helping from home.
Initially, I accidentally signed up for three months in the Philippines, thinking that was the minimum amount of time I had to stay. Although I was warned by staff and volunteers to not overwork myself in my first week, I classically thought I was a superstar and could do anything, crying my first night and taking strong painkillers – making escape plans with my dad over whatsapp, as didn’t think I could hack it there, especially not for three months. Actually, I loved it, and extending to stay for 6 months. Reluctant and crying (common emotion in my life apparently) I had to leave as my VISA started in Australia. I stayed in Australia for 6 months, constantly and excitedly thinking of going back to project, signing up to volunteer with All Hands in Nepal as soon as they accepted volunteers, staying for another three months.
I thought as a volunteer in disaster relief, I would be faced with overwhelming sadness and hardship, with evenings spent alone and bored with nothing to do, I cleverly thought ahead downloading a nutrition manual on my tablet to read when I wasn’t working. Just in remembering that I thought this feels utterly ridiculous, funny though.
This is so far from what I experienced, with the beneficiaries, the AHV team, the work, or the downtime.
Although challenging, working for the beneficiaries in a team of amazing people, made it easy to get up in the morning, instilling in everyone a determined motivation to do manual labour all day in rain or shine (but actually usually taking cover in the rain, as it was often torrential and slightly cold and not health and safety appropriate – but you get my point).
We were fortunate to meet many of the beneficiaries we worked for, who greeted us with such hospitality and love, giving us food, helping when possible, smiles, waves, encouragement in general – just really lovely. I even got a few hugs from the old girls, and a very memorable kiss from a toothless old lady who said I could take her back to the UK with me (she got someone to translate this to me). It was delightful - workday after workday of doing fulfilling necessary work.
Evenings were so much fun, never a dull moment, unless I snuck off to sleep early, as was just so exhausted from the day. The AHV family were amazing, and I genuinely feel nothing but pride and love for the staff and volunteers who work their bums off to get the work done. I feel privileged to work alongside them, finding more best friends in this time, than I have accumulated in my little lifetime.
All Hands was a rare time where I never questioned my life choice or happiness, knowing the amazing work we were doing and the connections I was making with people.
The staff are fantastic, although it took a little longer to make friends with them, as they are usually super busy working all the time, they were really wonderful. On the whole, the project ran really smoothly, the work was really needed and necessary in the communities, and the beneficiaries seemed really truly happy with us. I felt an incredible sense of family and support from this group, with a ridiculous amount of laughs, and tears, and joy, and many many tired times.
I am really not one to force any of my ideas on to anyone, but All Hands seems to be an exception… and breastfeeding – but that’s different. I have accidentally become an advocator for the organisation on my travels, finding myself recommending All Hands to so many people – including my family and friends – many of whom have never travelled before. It truly is such an incredible experience, sorry I am cringing before I even say this (I know), but it is life-changing and completely wonderful.
I still haven't read the manual.
I love All Hands for so many reasons. People come from all over the world and give up their lives at home to help those affected by natural disasters. All Hands creates an atmosphere where you can be yourself and grow as a person as you branch out from your comfort zone and try new things. I've never experienced a place where you can think of an idea, no matter how ambitious it is, share it with people, and gain their support instantly. Every volunteer comes from a different background which makes this place special because we bring so many skills and talents to the table and all come together for the same reason - to help the people who need us. Deep down we are just a bunch of kids with hearts bigger than our heads, who leave the egos at the door and enter with the willingness to do anything to get these jobs done. I love this organization!!
I volunteered on Project Leyte back in August 2015 for two weeks. It was an incredible two weeks and I met some really great people. The Filipinos are so friendly, welcoming and a true inspiration. If you're interested in doing some volunteer work I'd definitely recommend AHV's , they're organised and well run with a great team atmosphere among all the volunteers. I got to try things I would never usually do such as mix cement by hand, help build a septic tank and chisel wood by hand. You really felt part of the community and you can see the results of your work. If anyone is thinking about joining a project with All Hands then please go! I'm already planning how I can get some time off to go volunteer again!
I planned on staying at Project Leyte for 2 months and ended up staying for 4- it's one of the best experiences I've ever had. I think there will be other times in my life to travel and see new places, but working in the one community 6 days a week for 4 months was honestly beyond. Getting to know the community, and the carpenters we worked with everyday was hands down my favourite part of volunteering. 10/10 recommend.
I don't think any amount of words could explain how amazing my time with all hands volunteers usually is. I have volunteered in couple of their projects and I will still go back for more. We are a big multinational family ready to help disaster affected communities at very short notice. We believe in making a difference.
I volunteered with AHV in Nepal in May and it was a very positive experience. I had the opportunity to connect with the community and have an impact on people's lives. The organisation is very well run and everyone chips in to ensure that volunteers get the most of their experience and beneficiaries are the number one priority. I would definitely volunteer with All Hands again.
Great chance to offer to help affected communities without having to pay for the privilege.
Great organisation, focused on helping in coordination with other parties, but without the bureaucracy.
I spent 5 months volunteering with All Hands this year. They are 5 months I will never forget. All Hands provided an extraordinary volunteer experience where I met volunteers from all over the world who will now be lifelong friends. We had the opportunity to become a apart of the community and create strong bonds with the people we served.
Fantastic meaningful experience. Honest and transparent organisation with fantastic staff providing a productive working environment.
I worked with this group in Mississippi, Staten Island, Detroit, and Colorado. All Hands gave me the opportunity to contribute to something completely outside of myself and my comfort zone while teaching me new skills that will benefit me for the rest of my life. There's nothing like the feeling of working your butt off all day, every day for a week, just to get up the next week to do it all over, and never question why. I said it when I left, and I still believe it: I had the privilege of working with the best people I've ever met, and I'll never forget any of them.
I just returned from my first deployment . They exceeded all my expectations. All Hands are like a big family. The supervisors I met were great. They genuinely appreciate, respect and care about the volunteers. All the volunteers follow their example and operate as a cohesive team. I highly recommend all hands to anyone wanting to volunteer for short term disasters or for their longer term building projects.
When I first signed up for All Hands, my friend asked me, "Why would you sign up for a month of not getting paid and still working"? My Only response was, "To do something bigger then myself". All Hands gave me the opportunity to see first hand both the physical and emotional effect super storm Sandy had on peoples lives in Long Beach, NY. You would think that after a year since Sandy hit that people would be back on their feet and able to move on, but even after a year, asbestos is still an issue that I personally came across multiple times within a month.
There is something indescribable about being alongside people from around the world that have all come together to help give residence of Long Island hope in reconstructing what was lost.
When i think of All Hands, there is sunshine in my soul!!! First volunteered with them in Haiti and then again in New York! And can't wait until I can volunteer with them again!
Reasons why I love All Hands!
1. Very organized
2. They are very educated on how and what needs to be done to get disaster areas up and going again
3. Very very happy and friendly! when you volunteer you are treated like family!
4. Extremely hard working, but we laugh the whole day through
5. They help wherever they can and whoever they can
6. Your time is used wisely you get to the project and jump in to help!
7. Volunteer with All Hands was a very educational experience! They teach you a lot!
8. They are very appreciative to all the volunteers and create a warm happy environment.
Oh I could write so so much more... All Hands in the best organization i've volunteered with.The funding goes where they say it will go, they are down to earth people just wanting to make a difference in this world!