Already finishing up my third week volunteering with IHF, it's today I officially start counting down the last week. This work-study volunteer opportunity is a life experience I will never forget. The welcoming Banda Aceh community, loving children, beautiful scenery and fascinating attractions are just a few of the reasons I will really miss this place once my time here is done.
I've always thought it would feel great to volunteer for an NGO overseas whether it be administrative work, natural disaster clean-up, building or teaching but could never find a short-term opportunity. Knowing I was not in a position to leave for more than a couple months at the most, I left the idea on the back burner. Then I came across International Humanity Foundation on the Volunteer Canada website. Now, instead of having no option, I had 2 short-term options to choose from!
I knew two weeks would not be enough time for me to get an experience which would fulfill my expectations (IHF's voluntourist program), so I chose the four week work-study program; I am so glad I did, and part of me wishes I could stay longer. Although three weeks is a relatively short period, it's enough to give me idea of what it's like to life with less at my fingertips and in turn have such an appreciation for what I have.
The families here are so friendly, always wanting to take the international volunteers around to show Aceh's attractions; museums, shops and beaches to name a few. They enjoy hearing stories about where the volunteers are from, their culture and stories from back home. Wanting to introduce us to their friends and expose us to much of the beautiful Aceh life as possible in the limited times we are all here for.
Along with the local volunteers, the other international volunteers here at IHF Aceh make this a really comfortable experience; I've never had a moment where I didn't feel safe or taken care of. We spend most of our days in each others company and really look out for one another. I could not have asked for a better “fill-in|” family to spend these last three weeks with.
Not only are the people here amazing, the experience in itself is what makes this so memorable. Teaching these passionate, dedicated students to piece together proper English sentences, making new friends from different parts of the world, eating authentic Indonesian meals and even learning a bit of the Indonesian language along the way is just a small slice of my Aceh life list.
Now having a better idea of what's it like to be more involved with IHF; how they operate, spend their money, connect with the community and recruit for volunteers (international and local) and students, will give more confidence in applying for the next short-term volunteer opportunity which comes my way. My passion for volunteering for those in need has increased over the last three weeks thanks to the experience I'm having here. Fundraising, recruiting and forever telling stories about my life changing adventure with IHF Aceh will continue on for a very long time.