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

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    9

Eye-Opening Experience

Going to a new country as a volunteer is an eye-opening experience, both personally and culturally. Furthermore, it allowed me to reinforce my desire to apply my skills and knowledge to help others. The accommodation and guidance from Julia and Manfred made the trip really comfortable. I have learned a lot from Manfred, he has great ambitions for the organisation. Aldeas de Paz is having a real positive impact in the local community and it is rewarding to know that you have contributed somehow. I met so many amazing people and had so many intense experiences along the way, working with the children from Mama Elba school remains the most wonderful experience of all. I have truly enjoyed my time with Aldeas de Paz and would definitely recommend the NGO to anyone. Thanks again for everything and I will be back again some day!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Six weeks in Samaná

During my six weeks in Samana I worked at the school “Mama Elba“ and in the hospital as an english teacher for the doctors and nurses.

I remember my first day at school. I was really nervous because of my missing Spanish skills. But when the first kids walked through the door, asked me about my name and were just happy to meet someone new, I started to feel comfortable and really enjoyed class. I got used to the course of a school day and started to tackle with teaching methods and the Montessori concept the school is working with. My aim was to learn more about how to teach children with special needs and what could be interesting for them. With the help of a kindergarten teacher from my hometown, I compiled a list with different ideas and activities, especially for the two kids with a mental disability. She also explained the concept of basal stimulation, the concept the ideas based on, to me and I began to investigate the topic. I got more and more interested in this subject.
For the beginning I decided to start with something small. I bought pegs and used a jump rope we already had at school. The exercise was to fix the pegs on the jump rope and I thought this could be interesting for maybe 15 minutes - but I was wrong! It was not something small and it was not something interesting for 15 minutes. The girl I worked with did it for an hour and it war great to see her progress! At the beginning she didn't know how to do it but after a while she managed! She was so proud and had a lot of fun, she even found other things to put the pegs on and worked really concentrated. During the following weeks I introduced some of the other ideas at school and it was amazing to see how the children changed and improved!

The other part of my work was teaching in the hospital. This was easier than school because I already had experiences with teaching english. It also helped that their english was on a good level so that communication wasn't a problem. This and their enthusiasm for learning made it pretty easy to enjoy the lessons. We talked about different topics and I learned more about their hobbies, their work in the hospital and life in the Dominican Republic in general what was very interesting for me. As a counter we prepared a lesson about Germany, typical food, favourite sports and the culture. Teaching in the hospital was not only teaching english, it also was an intercultural exchange!

A big part of my life in Samana was spending time with my host family. From the first day on I felt really welcome and like a real family member. I joined them to family parties, trips or to visit friends and was always welcome to go to church with them.
Because of their help I improved my Spanish very fast and was able to communicate with them. They were patient teachers and always proud when I learned something new or understood what they said. I also learned more about their culture and typical food what was very interesting for me because I love cooking. On the one hand they showed me how to prepare a typical Dominican meal or my favourite foods and on the other I made some cakes and explained them how to do it.
During my stay my host brother and sisters had university vacation so that they stayed at home for three weeks and I got to knew them and we did a lot of family activities. I really enjoyed this. Because of my family I really felt home in Samana and I am going to miss them a lot!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

The most exciting, enjoyable and rewarding experience...

I joined Aldeas de Paz for 6 weeks and have had the most exciting, enjoyable and rewarding experience. I came to volunteer but also to add my own ideas and experience to the organisation and Aldeas de Paz allowed me to do that. The organisation accepts open minds allows everybody to contribute to improve the charity. I was able to use my guitar in the school and we planned our ow english classes to teach at the local hospital. This environment I found to be very relaxing and stress free which allowed me to be more creative. The area where we volunteered also had a very 'tranquilo' (chilled) vibe and we all organised regular weekend trips away to explore beaches, waterfalls an snorkel which were amazing experiences.
Aldeas De Paz offers so many programs but I spent most of my time at the school which was such a wonderful experience. A lot of the children have special educational needs and at first I thought it would be hard to develop their skills in the 6 weeks I was here. But the differences in the children and the changes in their confidence were amazing. I felt so rewarded with these changes and it just shows that any amount of time you can spend here is valuable for them.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

My time at Aldeas De Paz has been amazing...

My time at Aldeas De Paz has been amazing. I have spent 6 weeks here and got to experience a range of projects. I worked in the youth, care and community project and being able to see the change in the children in such a short space of time was really rewarding. Also seeing how much they enjoy school and really want to learn puts a lot of things into perspective. They all arrive everyday with smiles on their faces, sometimes mischievous, but they will always make you laugh. I also helped out teaching English at the hospital which is something I didn't expect to be doing but really enjoyed. It challenged me to do something different and be creative planning different classes each week. The doctors all really appreciated this, especially when it involves games and competitions. On top of this I volunteered in the NGO management program which was really insightful in seeing how a grass roots organisation is run. I was able to shadow Julia in her daily tasks and it showed me that everyday is different and unexpected.
To make the most of your time here you have to be open minded and absorb and live in the Dominican culture which is a very relaxed and slow paced way of life, perfect for me. If I could change anything about my experience here I would have wanted to know more Spanish before I arrived so I had more of a base to build on and was able to connect more with the locals. However it has not hindered my time here, it has made me want to work harder to learn Spanish and continue learning when I get home.
Outside of volunteering I met a lot of amazing people from all over the world that I will never forget and hopefully will stay in contact with. We had some incredible weekend trips to see more of the Dominican Republic, one of the highlights was swimming with turtles in Sosua. So thank you to everyone and to Manfred, Julia and Junior for making the time here so special. Aldeas de paz is doing amazing work in Samara and I believe it is only the beginning.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day 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 Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day 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 Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Day to Day 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.