In Denmark it is very common to go to Africa and do some voluntary work in your gab year (or to go to the Middle Eastern parts of Asia). I’ve always said that I would become a volunteer when I got old, and just travel while I was young. But in the recent years I’ve found out, how selfish it is to say like that. And after I did voluntary work myself, I found out how big of a gift doing voluntary work is.
I did voluntary work in a small village called Penestanan on Bali. I went there by myself and the organisation I was going to work for was Green Lion. For two months I was going to teach English half an hours drive outside of Penestanan. It was primarily children between the age of 4 and 12 I was teaching.
How I lived
I stayed with a local family in Penestanan. In Bali people live in so-called compounds with several ‘houses’ inside an area. The family lived in some of the houses and I live with some volunteers in the other houses. In Penestanan there were several compounds housing volunteers. All the meals were eaten at another location in Penestanan, and it was so nice to get together.
What I learned
I really don’t know where to start! I learned so much during the 2 months in Penestanan. So I’ll make a little list 😉
- I learned about the Balinese culture and the Balinese people. I gained so much respect for their way of living life – especially how much family means. Furthermore they’re always very helpful and happy, and even though the language barrier was big, they always tried to understand.
- To help other people is probably one of the greatest feelings in the world. I really appreciated the happiness we brought to the children by teaching them. The children were always so happy to see us, and the gratitude towards us from the parents, were so life-giving! Even though there were tough days where everything was difficult, it was a major gift in the end to actually see some progress with some of the children ❤
- I can do it! It was my first time traveling alone and to be honest I was so scared. But at the same time I was really looking forward to traveling around on Bali and to teach English. The trip made me later realize that I crossed so many barriers, and helped me gain a lot of faith in myself.
How was my daily life
On a normal day I would get up and go to breakfast in another part of Penestanan with my roomie Hannah. We taught together, so after breakfast we went to a house in the rice fields, where we prepare the lesson for the day. On the first day of the week we normally set at plan for the whole week. But it was very rare that we were actually able to follow it. Sometimes the schools were closed for no reason, and we weren’t told before head. On other times there were a lot of new children, and some of the old didn’t come. Some would come back weeks later, other wouldn’t. We always had to be prepared to teach on every single level of English, because we never really knew who would be in school on that specific day. After the preparation, we would eat lunch with some other volunteers. The Green Lion organization also had volunteers building kindergardens and doing environmental work. So at the meals we always talked to a lot of other volunteers, and it was so interesting to hear about their work. Then, after lunch, we got to our pick-up place and were driven to the village were the school was located. We were 4-7 volunteers at each school, and then two persons from the Green Lion. They were supposed to help us with translating to the children, but most of them didn’t speak English themself. So that often caused a lot of frustration.
After teaching for 3-4.5 hours we were picked up and brought back to Penestanan. We often had some hours to relax in the afternoon and the we had dinner with all the other volunteers in the evening.
Sometimes we went to a nearby city called Ubud to go out, and other times we just relaxed with movie nights and walks in the rice fields or trips to night markets.
In the weekends we went to swimming pools or on day or weekend trips around Bali 🙂
Would I do it again?
Ab-so-lutely and anytime!