Vicky Carter - 2015 Program Participant

What attracted you to the idea of volunteering abroad? 

I had experience working in media in England and I wanted to spread my wings and further my knowledge and experience in a completely different environment in which I was not accustomed to.

Why did you choose Volunteer for the Visayans? 

I chose this organization as it was the only organization I found which had a media project which not only involved print, but also film and photography. I had also planned which countries I was traveling to before hand, and the Philippines was one of them, so it worked out well. I also wanted to work in an area that specifically needed help, more attention, and awareness, and Tacloban is most definitely a place that fits the bill as many westerners choose popular places like Thailand, rather than more unnoticed locations like the Philippines. After hearing about the devastation from Typhoon Yolanda, I felt I had not choice but to come here.

Elementary students in the Philippines

Elementary School

What was your favorite part about the location of your placement? 

I like how Volunteer for the Visayans is integrated into the Bliss community, rather than having a separate area for volunteers. This enables volunteers to socialize and interact with members of the community on a daily basis. You feel like you are making a significant impact by communicating every day and staying with the local people.

What made your program experience unique? 

It’s unique because of, unfortunately, the disaster known as Typhoon Yolanda. Yolanda impacted all members of the NGO and members of the community, leading many people in the Bliss community to come to VFV for help and guidance, which means that VFV has more of a receptive and thankful community to work with. I know there is still a lot of work to be done, and I know the work I did as a media intern made small steps to help a large amount of people. Not only this makes the program unique, but Volunteer for the Visayans also has certain projects, like The Dumpsite Project, which I have never seen be organized by any other organization before.

How did local staff support you throughout your program? 

They were always there to help, support, and give me guidance. They were always polite, and would not tamper with my work unless I was present and they were giving me constructive criticism and feedback. They became friends more than local staff and I felt incredibly comfortable with them, making my transition easy, and it seemed like had been working with VFV for a while.

Volunteer with host mother in the Philippines

Interviewing Nanay Vilma

What was a typical day like for you as a media intern in the Philippines?

In the morning, for example, I might travel to a remote school and interview the principal, teacher and students on the circumstances of the school and how VFV can help. Then I’d return to the office, write up the feature, and include pictures on the VFV website, and then schedule the post on Facebook to target a certain amount of people and to raise awareness.

What did you enjoy doing outside of your day to day media tasks? 

I facilitated a workshop with the Girls Club on my Sunday off and I had a fantastic time. We played games, led discussions, participated in activities, and created theater, which affected them in a positive way.

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it? 

I stayed in a local homestay. The room was very small and cockroaches were many, but I guess one could call it "character building". After a while you get used to it and it makes you stronger. My Nanay (host mother) was welcoming and made me feel comfortable during my stay.

Now that you're home, how has your time in the Philippines impacted your life?

It has provided a stepping stone for me, directing my future into the field of media, and has given me a fantastic experience of writing features for a certified organization and raising awareness of the inspiring work that they do. It has shed light on the people in this world who will happily dedicate their life to making a difference, and that is very heartwarming to be a part of. It has made me, when facing a significant problem, deal with it more effectively, as I realize I am incredibly lucky in my life, as I have met many who have far worse off problems than me. It has made me reflect on my own personal values, aims, and ambitions in life.