Review Volunteer Madison Woods Colombia Cartagena Seniors and Children Care Center
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator/staff and the support provided in-country?
The staff was amazing. Before arriving in Cartagena, I was provided with all the information necessary to complete the registration process. The staff was very helpful and prompt with responses. In Cartagena, my coordinator Libary was such a delight to work with! She was always there when I needed her and she ensured that I was having the best possible experience.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced? Name 2
Program: the most surprising thing I experienced at Hagar was the way that they provide medical treatments and mediation to their patients. The whole process was very different than I am used to in the United States. In some ways, I like their ways better!
Host Family: The most surprising thing about my host family was how welcoming and loving they were. I was hoping to feel welcomed, but they really took me in as part of their family and made me feel right at home. I also didn't realize how much I would love the home cooked meals!
Country: The most surprising thing about Colombia for me, was the how beautiful the city of Cartagena is. I had so much more time to explore than I thought I would, and I enjoyed every part of Cartagena that I was able to see.
3- What was the most challenging thing you experienced?
Program: the most challenging part of the volunteer experience for me was just adjusting to the culture and being able to effectively communicate the way that I wanted to.
Host Family: The most challenging thing I faced with my host family was simply getting to know everyone and spending quality time with them, with my busy schedule. I loved having breakfast with my host mom every morning and hanging out watching TV at night.
Country: The most challenging part about being in Colombia was adjusting to the heat and being okay with being sweaty all the time! After a few days I did get used to it, but I didn't realize how tired the heat can make you. I was thankful to have a little down time each day to relax and recharge.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
1. If I would have had more time prior to coming to Cartagena, it would have been amazing to have fundraised and been able to donate to the fundacions. You will be amazed at how attached you get to people and how much you want to help in any way that you can.
2. Bring some nicer outfits. I didn't really and I wished I would have had them, because you will have so much free time for exploring! This is your trip, make the best of it :)
3. Research places that ideally you would love to see/visit while in Colombia. Even if it's a short plane flight away! There are no ends to your exploring while here.
4. Bug spray, sunscreen, hat and sunglasses are a must!
5.1-Other things volunteers should know before coming here:
(that's not in the orientation guide)
a. Bring toilet paper! You never know where they will have it and where they will not.
b. Everyone is SO nice and welcoming. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
c. Be smart about your cellphone. Don't have it out. This one took me a while to get used to!
d. Make the most of every experience - good, bad or totally foreign! I would recommend keeping a journal :)
6- Personal Paragraph about the experience (ABV Program Testimonial):
I loved this experience and learned so much about myself, this culture and the country of Colombia. I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to volunteer, and at the same time, visit such a beautiful place.
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security, friendliness, quality others:
My accommodations were great. I was in a safe neighborhood. I had my own room and bathroom, with running water and working toilet. It takes getting used to, because the houses are somewhat open to the outside and you hear all sorts of noises you aren't used to, but I felt very safe!
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?:
Program: Seeing the moms at Program light up each time they got to come see their babies.
Host Family: going to San Bernardo del Viento and meeting tons of family members of my host family. I loved riding three people on the scooters around the town to get Arepas in the morning!
Country: Going to the Old City and getting coffee with Libary at San Albertos! Best coffee I've ever had!
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling? (who helped you, emails, phone calls, chat online, how fast did you got an answer, did you got all your answers)
Sarah helped with all of my travel inquiries and problems along the way. She was very timely and was avaiblw when I needed her, both via phone and via email.
9.1- What do you think about the reservation system online?
I think it is great!
9.2- How did you find Abroaderview website (keywords, search engine, word mouth to mouth, recommended by .., other)
Very easy to use, and explained well.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?