Why did you choose this program?
The program appealed to me for a number of reasons.
The idea that I could become involved in a number of different projects within the community in such a short space of time really caught my attention. I wanted to be able to embrace the local culture and it felt like the program offered me the opportunity to do just that.
I really liked the sustainability angle that green light ventures take as you leave knowing that the projects you have been involved in will have a real and lasting impact on the people you meet and partner with.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
GLV was absolutely amazing with regard to what they assist with. I felt as though every step had been covered by them and I was well informed with anything that I needed to organise.
GLV arranged all accommodation and transportation inclusive of airport transfers. I had to arrange flights and my visa; however, I was given guidance and suggestions on the best / cheapest options.
I selected the projects I wanted to be involved in from the programme, which also gave me options to select experiences such as safari as add-ins to the main package. Again, once I’d decided what I wanted to do from the options, the additional parts were all organised for me, so I had zero stress throughout the whole process.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I think the most important thing is to ensure you make sure this is the right thing for you.
For me, it was important that I was able to be involved in the community, but also that I had time to explore my surroundings and that I was busy most of the time. With GLV, the program is as busy as you want to make it and I would recommend just embracing every experience that comes your way as part of the process.
Ask questions before, but especially during your travels. Talk to locals, learn about their experiences and also try to learn some of the more typical phrases in Swahili. Finally, be present! You won’t find a more enriching experience so share that with those around you.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
There wasn’t an average day as such on the program. They are all better than average days :).
Joking aside, a typical week might include a number of mornings through the afternoon working with a number of different projects. I was involved in projects to build a chicken coop for an unfunded daycare centre run by a local family from a small room in their courtyard. The chicken coop will help to generate a sustainable income for the benefit of underprivileged children from the village along with providing a food source. Tree planting projects were also a focus, which helps again to provide a source of income to the women of the Maasai tribe, for example, and, of course, assist with the offsetting of carbon footprints.
We also visited an orphanage after collecting plastic bottles from the bush (near animal crossings) to create a hanging herb garden. There was then time after project work to explore the area, viewpoints, local markets, to visit the Maasai tribe and embrace their way of living for an evening. I opted into the safari package and so spent one of my days in a nearby national park. We also visited a waterfall after a short hike and cycled to Lake Manyara one evening.
We always ate meals together and would spend time in the evening recapping the day and planning for the following days' activities.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was traveling alone and feeling isolated. Chloe and Dom of GLV made me feel welcome from day 1 and so I never felt on my own. There was a huge sense of community that came with sharing the experience with the group and I feel a lot of that was down to the friendly way in which the hosts conducted themselves and the project.
Nothing felt rigid or rushed, so we still had a sense of being on holiday rather than simply there to carry out a job, which was a concern of mine when researching alternative tour providers.
Why would you choose GLV over an alternative provider?
For me, I had taken a lot of time researching exactly what I wanted to get out of my experience. I knew I wanted to be involved in community work but I also wanted the opportunity to explore my surroundings.
GLVs programme resonated with me on a personal level as you could see that their passion for the area and the environment was what was driving their program. I felt like I was being sold an experience, a real life-changing experience with the opportunity to be involved in projects that made small changes but big differences to people. I knew that the money I was paying to volunteer would go directly towards the projects and that I wasn’t just paying for the privilege to say I’d made a difference. I really would be.