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Volunteer in the Philippines!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Social Life

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

Volunteering in the Philippines

The first time I set foot on Philippine soil, I was dragging my 18 years along with me and this visceral desire to be as far from home as I could possibly be (indeed, my final choice of destination had been mainly motivated by a meticulous study of the globe distances between Paris and the other side of the planet). I had no real expectation other than showing the world I had become a strong-minded and independent grown-up, and imply heart and soul for the cause I had chosen (I would be volunteering in an orphanage for six months). As I arrived in Tacloban, I was soon overwhelmed with smiling faces, new friends, kids, food, kindness, more kids, and a sense of community and hospitality that would never leave my side. Within a very short time, I inherited dozens of new little siblings as every child that would cross my path would call me « big sister » (« Ate »). This was the beginning of a lifetime journey in this country that I would soon consider as my second home.

Volunteering in the Philippines is an experience of a lifetime. You’re immersed in one of the friendliest nations in the world, which makes your journey unforgettable. You encounter tons of wonderful people, eat awesome food (lots of it), participate in rewarding projects, experience great jeepney rides and get to enjoy the incredible beauty of its islands. Volunteer For the Visayans has multiple projects in the city of Tacloban and in the areas around, so you usually end up getting involved in several of them even if you initially registered for just one. You can even give a helping hand right next to your homestay’s door by joining their community center activities, and do a bunch of fun things with the people you come across everyday. More than being just an opportunity for you to live in a foreign country and challenge yourself, the sharing of your skills, ideas and experience will also help improve the life of many around you.

As a volunteer in an orphanage, my role was to help take care of the children and plan activities for them. I would usually spend the morning looking after the youngest ones, bathing them, changing their bedsheets, feeding them, and taking them around as the small number of staff would not allow them to spend a lot of time with each child everyday. In the afternoon I would play games with the eldest ones and assist in some Mathematics or Geography classes presented by the sisters running the orphanage while the young ones would be sleeping.
Over the months, I was amazed to see how much impact the presence of volunteers had amongst the kids and how some of them had flourished and become playful and energetic (very much sometimes :-) when gloomy and solitary at the beginning. I was captivated everyday by the maturity of the eldest ones (I am talking about 6 year-old kids here) who would patiently take care of their youngest siblings, come to them when they would be crying or feed them from their own plate.
I cherish very deep memories of my time with them and encourage everyone to find their own treasured project and come make a difference.

My tip for volunteering in the Philippines:

- Be creative, and live life to the fullest! You are given the incredible opportunity to be living in a place that is not your own and to make something valuable out of it, so give it your best, for you and for the people around you!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

Flexible, a wonderful experience for self-directed volunteers!

Well, what on earth do I say about VFV? I spent two months volunteering with them, and I have to say that it was one of the most important experiences of my life. My original project was a rural health clinic (I am a nurse), however, due to an overwhelming number of healthcare staff available to work in the Philippines, my clinic was constantly well-staffed. This left me feeling every day that I was not really needed, and that it was an experience that was benefiting only me, and not the community I worked in. On the flip side of that, I was able to get experience learning the language (WarayWaray), doing prenatal exams, and giving immunizations- all things that I could not do in Canada due to my status as a 4th-year nursing student.

The truly rewarding experience- outside of dealing with and learning so much from the wonderful staff at my clinic- came from my side projects. A few evenings a week, I helped tutor the Grade 8 students who are also sponsor children through VFV. I tutored English, math, and a few other subjects, whatever the kids needed help with that day. It was absolutely a blast! I had so much fun spending time with them, refreshed my math skills with the help of Google, and felt like, at times, I was actually helping. I also joined a co-volunteer at her placement for a couple of days at the girls' shelter, where I designed two workshops- one on self esteem and healthy relationships, and one on womens' health. That was by far the most rewarding, and one that I will probably travel back to the Philippines to do more of. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and it really felt like I did something worthwhile.

On top of it all, the volunteers all become quite close and spend a lot of time together, so I met a couple of lifelong friends in the process. My homestay was so wonderful, and helped me to understand so much about Filipino life and culture. I miss being "Ate Kirsten" (sister Kirsten) in the community, and I miss the friendly neighbourhood kids and adults every day. I even miss my hour-and-a-half jeepney/tricycle ride every day to my project! I will absolutely be back again, and can not wait to see what the next volunteer trip brings. Thank you, VFV, for the amazing experience!!!

2 tips for future volunteers:

1) Come with an open mind. Each project is different from your expectations in ways you couldn't begin to imagine, so come with the mindset that you will find and create value in whatever your project is.
2) Take initiative. You are given so much freedom with VFV to participate in other projects, so take advantage! If you question the value of what you are doing, be creative and spend time experimenting and figuring out where the need is. Share that with people, initiate change- VFV does not gently take you by the hand and tell you what to do every step of the way, that is the best part of the organization's volunteer program! You have leeway to decide what you think is important, and to explore it. Enjoy the freedom and the opportunity to create change!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Build-A-Home Project

During my 6 month volunteer trip with VFV I had the chance to help contribute to the construction of three homes in a rural village. With no construction or building experience at all I wasn't sure I'd be much help, but the head carpenter, local workers, and even local kids were extremely grateful for any assistance I could provide. I never knew I had it in me to carry 20 lb sand bags all day or shovel 6 ft. deep holes under the baking heat of the Filipino sun.

Building the homes challenged me physically but my sleepiness was overpowered by the notion that I was providing a family with something tangible, a home where they would create memories, where the parents would watch their children grow, where they would share meals daily, and where they would safely rest their heads at night.

It was an incredible feeling to see each family move in to their new home, and I live for the day that I can build more homes with VFV.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    9

Growing up

When I volunteered in 2012 I was 16 and the youngest volunteer they had had, and it was my first time travelling alone. Yes I had been a little worried, especially as I didn't feel like an adult, but I found that everyone, both locals and volunteers, made me feel both welcome and valued as part of the VFV community. I also felt safe around the local barangays, which is a contrast to home but made Tacloban all the more welcoming! It is an experience I loved, working in an orphanage taught me a lot about my own life , attitudes to life and how lucky I am; I was fortunate enough to shadow one of the volunteer medics and see more rural life as well. It was life changing and the independence I gained has been so valuable. I find that now I am back home I still miss the feeling of community that was present and my homestay mums cooking! I think what really made it special was going for every opportunity I could, whether it was tutoring local children or wandering round downtown and the museums, but also being given such opportunities despite my age and being trusted. The staff were awesome as well, especially when the day had been hard or I missed home a little and it really was just a life changing experience which I hope to experience again! Thanks VFV

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Making a huge impact on the lives of the underprivileged villagers

Volunteering with the community center brought me in touch with children who are among the sweetest and warmest I have ever encountered. The interaction with them is in itself already very rewarding.

More so, I love how the community center is making a huge impact on the lives of the local villagers. Many of these children come from families of farmers. These farmers rely on the earnings they make from harvest seasons, which only happen twice a year. For the most part of the year, these families have to deal with the possibility of hunger on a daily basis. The community center, and its sponsorship program, means the world to many of its underprivileged beneficiaries.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    9

Absolutely Amazing

I first volunteered for VFV in 2009 and after 1 month I knew I would be back. The second time I came for 6 months and that still wasn't long enough. I suggest volunteers stay for 4 months to get a really good feel for the culture, communities, and for the ultimate experience.

VFV has an amazing array of placements, but volunteers with initiative can also start their own programs. You can share your talent or knowledge with individuals of all ages in the communities served.

Homestays are always amazing and provide you with a home away from home, no doubt!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Social Life

    7

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Community Impact

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Volunteer Experience

    9

Dental Workshop in Filipino Village

Volunteer for the Visayans helped me to facilitate my own volunteer experience. I have experience as a dental assistant and really wanted to teach children about oral health. The administration answered my questions quickly and thoroughly and gave me a lot of flexibility with structuring the program. They helped me with transportation and housing too.

I got to work with children and their families in a small village near Tacloban City, Philippines. My co-presenter and I taught around 50 children how to take care of their teeth. We asked how many brushed their teeth everyday and only one raised their hand! We were able to give them each their own toothbrush and a mini toothpaste thanks to some donations. All the kids were so excited and fun!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Social Life

    10

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

Great Volunteer Experience!

Volunteering in the Philippines with VFV was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. To have the chance to meet and help families in underprivileged communities opened my eyes to what the world is all about. I highly recommend this program to anyone who is looking for an invigorating, challenging, and rewarding cultural experience.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

Life Changing Experience

I've volunteered with VFV 4 times already and every time I do, it never fails to give me a satisfying feeling that I was able to help underprivileged Filipinos. Thanks VFV and thanks GoAbroad!