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Youth Care, Community, and Nature - Enhance the Lives of Kids

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

meine Zeit in Samana sehr gut gefallen und mir eine neue Sichtweise auf meinen weiteren Weg gegeben

Ich bin 20 Jahre alt und komme aus Hattstedt, Schleswig-Holstein in Deutschland. Nach meinem Abiturabschluss wollte ich gerne mehr von der Welt sehen und mein Spansich verbessern. Außerdem war ich mir mit meinen Zukunftsplänen noch nicht sicher, interessierte mich aber für ein Lehramts Studium. Das Angebot einer Freiwilligenarbeit in einem Land das weit entfernt von mir ist, kam mir also sehr gelegen. Durch die tolle und schnelle Vermittlung von „StudentsGoAbroad“ und „Fundacion Aldeas de Paz“ kam ich in den Kontakt mit Manfred Mönnighoff, der mir ausführlich ,freundlich und schnell die Informationen über das Projekt und notwendige Dinge gab, die ich in der Dominikanischen Republik brauchen werde.

Für meinem neunwöchigen Aufenthalt wählte ich ein Schulprogramm für Kinder mit besonderen Bedürfnissen und unterrichtete Englisch für Schüler aller Altersklassen. Das Projekt war anfangs schwer für mich, weil mir die Verständigung und Übersetzung in Spanisch schwer fiel, man sich an die neue Umgebung gewöhnen musste und die Kultur einfach sehr anderes war. Bei meiner Arbeit mit den Kindern bereitete ich mich mit den anderen Lehrern auf den Unterricht vor oder wir dekorierten die Schule die zu der noch nicht sehr Lebhaft aussah. Der Englischunterricht war für mich interessanter ,als die Arbeit mit den Kindern, weil ich selber die Sprache lernte, obwohl es anfangs sehr grundlegend war. Jedoch gefiel mir das Unterrichten von Woche zu Woche besser und ich hatte nicht nur tolle Lebenserfahrungen in der Schule, sondern auch beim Zusammenleben mit den anderen Freiwilligen und Freizeitaktivitäten mit den Einheimischen gesammelt. Dadurch, dass ich als Freiwilliger mich selber und das Projekt mit organisiert habe, lernte ich fiel über eigenständiges Arbeiten und den Umgang mit anderen Menschen.
Mir hat es einerseits gut gefallen das Projekt aufzubauen und mich zu engagieren, andererseits ist es manchmal unorganisiert gewesen, was aber an ungeschulten Personal und der unzuverlässigen Gesellschaft lag. Neben meinem Projekt habe ich gerne auf der Straße Basketball gespielt oder bin ins Fitnessstudio gegangen. Außerdem habe ich mit den anderen Freiwilligen an einem Projekt für die Wiederverwertung, Organisation und Einführung von Mülltonnen gearbeitet, die für Santa Barbara de Samana notwendig sind. Da das Projekt der Müllverwertung ein langer Prozess ist hoffe ich das die kommenden Freiwilligen es weiter führen können.
Im großen und ganzen hat mir meine Zeit in Samana sehr gut gefallen und mir eine neue Sichtweise auf meinen weiteren Weg gegeben. Nach meinem Aufenthalt in der Dominikanischen Republik nutze ich die Zeit um durch Mittel und Südamerika zu reisen.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

I am really happy with my choice to work here with Aldeas de Paz in Samana

We are two 20 year-old girls from Germany. Although we had different reasons to do this volunteer work in the Foundation Aldeas de Paz for half a year, we have the same aim: we want to do a useful work. Useful for the society and also for our personality. Further we want to get to know an other culture, different ways of living and working, improve our spanish knowledge and learn how to deal with problems that people have here.

The organization is really at the beginning (1 year) in the Dominican Republic and everything is still in a process of development. To be part of this process has advantages and disadvantages, of course. On the one hand we had to recognize that nothing is perfect and that there is still a lot of work to do and that this won't be easy. Furthermore the life in this country is slower and in a way lazier and more relaxed than the life in europe, to which we are used to. On the other hand there are much advantages for us: its a great experience to be part of this developing process. We are learning a lot at our work, how to deal with difficult situations and always stay positive, thats the most important thing we learned here. When you solved one problem the next problem comes up. But actually that's the reason why we are here, there are a lot of challenges and problems which have to be solved. We are going in the right direction, little by little.

At the end its a great experience and very helpful to learn how to deal with the life and yourself.

A other aspect we want to speak about is the life beside the work in the organization. The organization is located in Santa Barbara de Samaná. It is the capital of the Province Samaná in the north of the Dominican Republic. It's a small city with the character of a village. The people are friendly and very helpful. What is very important for the community of this village is to say hello to the people on the street even when you don't know them. That manner is a part of their culture and will help the volunteers to get integrated. That leads to the next point; with the right attitude volunteers can have a nice time here. The "right" attitude means to be open minded, because without that you can not get along with a other cultured person. Samaná is a really peaceful place nevertheless there is always something going on and it is a good combination of young and old. The social life is very important for the people here, they are very open and interested in getting to know new people. We found a lot of good friends here. Even though we have to say that it is not a city with big clubs and shopping-malls. You have little shops and on the promenade there little bars. But Samaná is a great starting point to go to nearby cities like Las Galeras or Las Terrenas. In Las Terrenas are more options to go out in the night. There are clubs, a lot of restaurants, beach bars and shopping places. In Samaná are a lot of Activities you can do, Samaná has a beautiful landscape and there are a lot of places you can travel to. For example the national park Los Haitises, the waterfall in El Limón, the island Cayo Levantado and a lot of very beautiful beaches with a lot of options for watersports like surfing or diving. The most famous thing in Samaná is watching the whales which are coming between December and February to get there birth here. There are a lot of places and things to discover in Samaná.

The place where the Volunteers are housed is an apartment for 5 persons. There are three sleepingrooms, one single room with a bathroom and two double rooms. One living room with two couches and a dining table. An other Bathroom a big kitchen and a balcony with a beautiful view to the sea. For general living conditions in Southamerica this apartment is very good and clean. Nevertheless we had to get used to this living conditions first.

All in all we are really happy with our choice to stay here in Samaná with this organization, even though there are many problems that have to be solved. We are growing on our tasks and we are learning a lot.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Impact

    9

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    10

Four months I will never forget!

I had three important criteria’s before I decided to go to Aldeas de Paz in Santa Elena de Uairen in Venezuela. First of all I wanted to get practical experience in management, specifically in a multicultural environment. Second of all I wanted to learn Spanish, because I always wanted to know a third language well. My final criteria were that I wanted to go to South America, because I wanted to explore the continent.
I decided to use four months in the foundation, because this was the first place that was totally open to give me the responsibility I wanted, that not just offered Spanish classes, but encourages people to learn as much as possible as fast as possible. That the NGO is located in Venezuela only gave me more motivation, because I wanted to go a place where they actually need my help, and a place where I could get a culture shock, but in the most positive way.
After a long journey from Denmark to Caracas, and 24 hours in the bus to Santa Elena de Uairen, I was more than tired when I arrived. I was picked up by Kelvis the director in Aldeas de Paz, who with a big smile, tried to explain me in Spanish that they were glad I was here, asked me if I was ok, and showed me the way to the car that would bring me to our house on the top of mountain right by the village. When I arrived, I met the founder of the place, Manfred, who had dinner and a room ready for me.
The time after that went faster than I would ever had imagined! Every week I got more responsibility, and before I knew it I was standing with the responsibility that I asked for. Sometimes it was also hard, because as a manager at the foundation, I had to always be on top on was going on, and what people needed. When people live close together on a mountain you gain so much trust and friendship with the others very quickly, but it also means that sometimes there is communication problems and culture differences, which has to be dealt with. Every weekend was free, and we often used the time to see different waterfalls in the area, to explore the Gran Sabana or hang out in the village. I also went with some volunteers to see the Angel Falls, and do the Roraima trek as well. These two places, I will never be able to forget as well.
Aldeas de Paz promised me I could get as much responsibility as I wanted, that I would learn Spanish, I would have a great cultural experience and that I would have opportunity to do and see all the sights I also dreamt of. They delivered all of it and even more! I loved knowing what we really did for the kids, the community and how we as volunteers were there for each other. I loved my relaxed life there, and will never regret that I choose to spend my time in the foundation.
I will strongly recommend this place, for someone who wants to try a different lifestyle, wants to help others, and who wants to be in control of what, when and how much work they want to do. I would recommend it to a person who would love working outside in the shade, while looking at all the mountains in the horizon, and hearing the Spanish tones playing from the radio in the kitchen.
To who ever, that is reading this; I hope you will love this place, as much as I did.