I chose this program because I had only a short amount of time I could take off work and because I wanted to help as many people as possible in one week. I figured that feeding the homeless could reach a large population and I had always wanted to visit Colombia. I looked at the low cost of the payment and I was excited that I could go within my means!
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
The checklist provided by IVHQ gave me step by step instructions and I could always email someone if I had any questions. There was a short training module I completed which explained everything simply and effectively. I used the recommended insurance with World Nomads and everything else was organized by me.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Bring a thicker blanket. I didn't realize that at night it got as cold as it did. I ended up sleeping in my hoodie and bundling up because I brought a thin quilt. Make sure to brush up on your Spanish before you arrive. I knew enough Spanish to be able to hold interesting conversations with the people and it really enhanced my experience.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
We wake up and eat breakfast around 7:30 and by 8 to 8:30 we hop into taxis on the way to our morning volunteering. I went to cook in the church kitchen and work in a food pantry in the mornings. After the morning session, sometimes food is provided on site (at the church) and, if not most of us, went back to the house for lunch. Late afternoon volunteering is optional.
After dinner, the housemates hang out together on the porch or we go out somewhere together and have fun.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I was nervous to be traveling alone and I was afraid I wouldn't know how to go through customs. This is just one of those things you learn with experiencing over time. I know now to really brush up on words that could be used when speaking to the immigration workers. Next time I will be more prepared to avoid confusion and stress.
Why are the showers cold and how can we fix this?
The showers are cold in the house for no real reason. There are working water heaters and the sinks have hot water, but for some reason the shower likes to be freezing.
The trick is to turn on the hot water from the sink before turning on the shower so the water "remembers" to be hot. I just saved some lives. You are welcome.