Volunteer Name: Melanie Torres
Project Location: San José Costa Rica
Program Dates: 06/01 – 06/29/2015
Volunteered at: Orphanage
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator/staff and the support provided in-country?
The local staff and the coordinator were very cooperative and were always willing to help. Alexander gave me his Whatsapp number as well as his cell number and I was always able to call him and communicate with him when there was a problem. The driver was fantastic, giving a private tour of the surroundings as I was going to the Host Family. The support while in Costa Rica was magnificent, there was never a time when I had any trouble.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
Program: Bonding with the children and helping them behave in a positive manner. Having them call me by my name and even having some children identify me as a mother was beyond mind blowing. I would love to take all of them with me to America.
Host Family: The Host Family was fantastic. The mother cooks so deliciously and they were always willing to give their tips on Costa Rica and the places to see and visit. Their oldest son was such blast, he always wanted to help and show me around San Jose.
Country: Costa Rica is beautiful. Even though this is my first time in the country I felt right at home and I can tell why so many Americans and Europeans retire here. The food is delicious and the culture is great and the people are lovely and are always willing to give you a hand while on the bus.
3- What was the most challenging thing you experienced?
Program: Dealing with the children’s violence with one another. It was always heart breaking to see the older children punch and kick the younger ones. Also, trying to discipline the children in a positive way and make them understand that what they did was wrong was challenging.
Host Family: Even though the food was delicious my stomach never really adjusted to the meals. Fortunately, I brought pepto as well as other remedies to help alleviate the discomfort.
Country: Getting around the country on a bus was hard. There is a serious problem with pick-pocketing while on the public transportation, but thankfully I was not a target.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
1. LOTS of mosquito repellant.
2. Do buy a Costa Rica travelers guide before coming to Costa Rica so you can know where you want to go, because the weekends is not enough to see all the beauties of the Country.
3. Bring lots of donations for the children. Stickers, coloring books, crayons etc are great ideas. And the kids love it.
4. Be mentally prepared to create a bond with the children and be prepared to experience attachment.
5.1-Other things volunteers should know before coming here:
(thats not in the orientation guide)
a. The food is great but please bring stomach medicine for if the food does not set well with you.
b. Do not bring any valuables that you are not willing to loose.
c. Be prepared for amazing sights and views.
6- Personal Paragraph about the experience (ABV Program Testimonial):
This experience was one that I will never forget. Meeting children that have been abandoned by their parents and being able to put a smile on their faces and bond with them is a great feeling. Many days my heart was broken because all you want is for them to have great futures and unfortunately you do not know whether or not they will have great futures. This experience has opened my eyes to the problems that our world faces with the orphans. I do not want my work with them to stop here, I would love to keep in communication with the Costa Rican orphanage as well as help in San Antonio orphanages.
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security, friendliness, quality others:
I loved my host family. They were so amazing and nice. The accommodations were great, I was able to sleep in a comfortable bed in a room that was always at a good temperature. The meals were delicious, and I have had my fill of Costa Rican food. Security was great. We were at a wonderful residence where all the neighbors were friendly. The friendliness here is amazing. People are always saying Good Morning or How are You Doing when you walk past them. The quality of service here is very good. I love San Jose because it reminds me a lot of USA and it makes me feel at home
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?:
Program: Having one of the kids ask me if when I return to the States if I will be taking him with me.
Host Family: Sharing memories and laughing with all the stories that the host family have to share.
Country: Going to the different places like the Caribbean as well as swimming in the warm beaches.
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
The support was very good. I was able to get communication through email on a regular basis. They were always willing to help through the telephone as well. They answered my phone calls and the emails very fast. I did get all of my questions answered.
9.1- What do you think about the reservation system online?
It is a good system to have. The questions were in depth and the process was swift and easy. I am glad I did this.
9.2- Who did you find Abroaderview website
I found ABV through a Google search.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
Yes I am.