Why did you decide to volunteer with Kaya in Thailand?
Jessica: We had never heard of Kaya before and had just been researching different projects on google. We had come across a few in Tanzania which included one week in Zanzibar but when we found that you could volunteer in Zanzibar we thought why not visit it and volunteer there. Kaya was also one of the more reasonably priced companies that we found. They were wonderful with all the booking process.
Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.
Jessica: Our day would start at 7am we were provided breakfast which consisted of eggs, fruit and fresh juice. We would then ride our bikes through the village for about 15 minutes to JTTI (Jambiani Tourism Training Institute) where we were allocated groups to teach English. It ranged from group 1 who spoke practically no english to group 5 who were fluent. We would teach from 9-10.30, then we would ride to our allocated nursery school. I alternated everyday between Sirajetil and Ibrahim nursery. We taught the children all the different types of animals the topic would change each week, we started with sea creatures, then wild animals, e.t.c. The kids were crazy but so much fun.
We would finish here at 12pm then return to the bungalows for lunch. We had a 2 hour break in which we could walk to the local hotel to use the internet and their pool or just go for a swim in the ocean which was beautiful although sometimes a little too warm. At 2pm we would prepare our lessons for the next day for both JTTI and nursery school. After this we would have some sort of manual labour, we either planted trees, provided bins in the community or cleaned up the beach. IN the evening we went to the kids club or taught at adult evening school we alternated days between all the volunteers. One day during the week we would eat at a locals house so we sat on the ground and used our fingers to eat it was a wonderful experience. We had the weekends off to do whatever we wanted.
What made this experience unique and special?
Jessica: This experience was so unique because we were not only able to help out the locals and teach English but we were on a tropical island in which we could relax, swim in crystal clear water, snorkel with fish. Also the volunteers and tour leaders made the experience memorable, everyone you meet impacts your experience and everyone is there for the same reason so you all get along and become very good friends by the end. We didn't want to leave. We were lucky enough to visit one of our students villages we had to ride a decent trip to get there but it was well worth it. It was like they had never seen westerners before it was wonderful seeing how they live and their culture.
Also we got to meet one of the most famous people in Zanzibar a 98 year old woman called Bikidude who can sing and play the drums at the same time while smoking. We had a party and the crowd which it attracted was amazing, we danced, ate and had a fabulous time. We were also lucky enough to organise a Sports Day for the children were we had 3 activities and the kids competed against each other, we made trophies and provided snacks for the kids. It was a lot of fun and all th kids seemed to enjoy the day.
How has this experience helped you grow personally and professionally?
Jessica: This has made me realise what I want to do in life and also to do what makes you happy. I withdrew from my university course after coming back from Africa and am doigna one year course in tourism and tour guiding at TAFE. Next year I want to travel again for sure I cannot wait to return to Africa. It has made me want to travel everywhere and experience as many cultures as I can, it makes you feel so good to see the smiles on peoples faces and to feel like your actually making a difference. My outlook on life changed yet it is hard in the commercial world we live in. In Africa everything seemed so simple and the locals always said "hakuna matata" so it has kind of become my way of life and I try and implement it as much as possible here.