Well I had never been overseas before, so I thought a volunteer trip was ideal because you are provided with guidance. I also wanted to volunteer to see the world as it is, not just the “best bits” through a holiday. I wanted to give my time and resources to those who needed it, and thought Africa was the best place to start!
Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.
In Mozambique we got up fairly early (7am) to have breakfast with each other and prepare for the day. Then we would drive or walk to the school we worked at and assess what needed to be done that day, and how to do it. We would then spend the day cutting/sawing/drilling/weaving reeds and learning other skills related to construction, all while in friendly competition with others or singing Disney songs. At about 4pm, we then packed up for the day and headed to the beach to cool off and muck around. At dinner time we’d enjoy three helpings of dinner and either go to bed or sit around the fire relaxing. On Sundays we paraglided, swam with dolphins and participated in other activities, such as catching up on sleep back at camp, scuba diving or shopping at the local markets.
Do you feel like you made a significant impact on the local community? Why or why not?
I feel like we did something that would help the community. In particular, the structures we built made sure that the teachers at the school and the kids weren’t going to get rained on or bitten by mosquitos anymore because of an old classroom. The classrooms we built are going to last for years, so it feels good that two weeks of hard work means 3 or 4 years of benefits for the school.
What's something interesting about Mozambique that the average person doesn't know?
The whole place (at least where we stayed) is beach sand! You could in theory get away with not wearing shoes for the whole time you’re there - which we gleefully took advantage of.
How has this experience impacted your future? (Personally, professionally, academically, etc.)
This trip has made me hungry for volunteer work, especially overseas and in Africa - it’s the most beautiful country, and even though the kids have nothing they are the happiest children I’ve seen! It’s also pretty exciting to see a random zebra on the side of the road as you drive around; all we have in Australia are kangaroos and they usually jump out in front of your car (which is also exciting but in a different way). When I finish my studies in Australia I’m going to try my best to get work in a location like Mozambique.