Volunteer Review Lauren Durnwald in Belize Orphanage Program University of Dayton
My Favorite Memory
I have had so many meaningful interactions with the children at the orphanage but one of my favorite was when I had the opportunity to go to YES (school) with Celine. At YES, I taught a lesson about healthy relationships. I was very nervous since I had not met the girls but the girls seemed to genuinely enjoy the lesson and participated more than I expected. After the lesson, some of the girls said that I was a good teacher, which was extremely rewarding since public speaking is something that is far outside of my comfort zone. I enjoyed seeing a part of Celine's life outside of the orphanage and getting the chance to know her better.
I was surprised that…
the children at the program were, for the most part, upbeat and positive. It was my first time volunteering at an orphanage and I was not sure what to expect. I do not know anything about any of the children's backgrounds other that what they relayed to me, but I know that many of them have difficult home lives outside of the orphanage. I can't imagine being away from my family for such long periods of time but the children are accepting of their situation and seem to make the most of the challenges they face.
The most difficult thing I experienced was…
knowing that I only have a week here and wanting to experience as much as I can within such short time constraints. My goal for the week was to live in the moment which can be difficult when time is fleeting and there is so much going on around me. In the dormitory where I stayed there was a sign that said something to the extent of, 'Take a moment to stop and experience the beauty around you.' This piece of wisdom became my mantra for the week and I tried to remember it when I become overwhelmed.
My best lesson received was…
Coming into the experience with an open mind is the best way to experience a journey like the one at the orphanage. I did not know what to expect before the trip so I came in with no expectations and my experience would not have been the same had this not been the case. Every day was a new adventure and I was able to make getting to know the children my first priority from the very beginning. Having an open heart and being willing to try new things was a key part of my journey this week.
Tip for future volunteers
Be prepared for the heat and bugs! Bring lots of bug spray and aloe. Seeing the baboon sanctuary tour was one of my favorite parts outside of my stay at the orphanage and I would definitely recommend checking that out!
Personal Paragraph/ Testimony
Although it sounds cliche, spending just a week at the program has changed my life. I was extremely nervous before coming to the orphanage and did not know what to expect, but, I can now say that I would recommend for anyone to spend time at this program, whether it is a week or a year. Having the opportunity to be let into the children's lives was such a unique experience and I never expected to become as close to them as I have during my short time here. I may not have been at the orphanage long, but my heart will be changed forever, all thanks to the wonderful children and staff that I have been able to spend this week with.
How would you describe your accommodations?
My accommodations were comfortable for the week. My sleeping and bathing arrangements were more than satisfactory. I never was hungry and the food was delicious! Great overall.
Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?