Health and Safety
A Blessed Experience in Brazil
Submitted by Lar Son - Brisbane The University of Queensland | February 06, 2015
It was a mix of trepidation and excitement venturing over to Brazil for 4 weeks. As 19-year-old girl travelling by herself to a foreign country there were obviously some nerves. This apprehension was however quickly dismissed once arriving in the volunteer hostel. The welcoming staff and other friendly volunteers made this transition to this new life extremely easy. It took a couple of days to adjust to the extremely hot weather and lack of utilities that we are so lucky to have at home in Australia, such as air-conditioning, clean drinking water and adequate plumbing. Starting up the placement of working with children was an incredible experience. I was with 2 other volunteers from the house so it was reassuring going with other familiar faces. It was so insightful in order to see how these children lived in their communities. I brought along a ball game and the joy it brought these children was so satisfying it simply reinforced all the reasons why I wanted to do the volunteer work. Language was a barrier as the children tried to communicate and although you tried your hardest to understand they occasionally got slightly frustrated. Although I was taking the 2 weeks of IVHQ Portuguese lessons I would recommend having a rather strong knowledge of the language before arriving in Rio. The impact our volunteer work had on the children was significant to an extent. As the community centre where the children were already had supplied and materials, we were more there to play with the children, rather than to teach them different skills or languages. The time spent with the children was only topped off by the unreal experiences shared with the fellow volunteers. I can honestly say I have made friends for life. This sounds so cheesy but without a doubt this experience has changed my outlook on life and I will return home with a more grateful and open attitude, which only a volunteer experience like this could teach me.
A few tips when volunteering in Rio!
~ Bring loads of sunscreen! The South American sun is so strong it’s really easy to get burnt. (Probably useful to pack some aloe-vera in case you get burnt)
~ If possible, bring a laptop or other device where you can download pics and communicate with people back home
~ When out, try to take as minimal as possible. I rarely took out a bag and put my money in pockets or my bra – only take out your phone if you really need it!
~ Pack some comfortable walking shoes. There is a lot of walking around Santa Teresa and it is a whole lot easier in comfortable shoes!
~ Bring any favourite snacks from back home – for me I wish I had brought some peanut butter! Brazilian peanut butter just isn’t the same.
~ Bring the necessary medication e.g. gastro stop, aspirin (As there is a chance you will need these!)
International Volunteer HQ responded to this review February 19, 2015 at 3:49 PM
Awesome volunteer travel tips! Thanks for sharing :) It sounds like you had a really memorable volunteer and travel experience in Brazil which is great to hear. Thanks for volunteering with IVHQ and we hope to have you on another of our programs again in the future.