Volunteer Name: Jackie Pondolfino
Project Location: Lusaka, Zambia
Program Dates: From 06/30 to 07/21/2014
Volunteered at: Teaching / Orphanage
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
Great! She was easy to get in contact with. Once, when I forgot to call my mom, my mom was able to email her and get in touch with me quickly.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
When I went to the Community School for Child Justice, I was shocked by the amount of kids packed into such a small school building. I was even more shocked by their enthusiasm to learn, especially when we had a hygiene demonstration. Furthermore, the volunteer teachers at the school inspired me with their kindness and devotion to providing the students with lunch and education.
3- What was most difficult situation you experienced or had to overcome?
It was very difficult for me to get used to how forward some men were. Some strangers would often say very flirty things to me that would make me uncomfortable. However, I kept in mind that it was just a cultural difference. As my stay went on, I got used to being approached and learned ways to end those awkward confrontations.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
4.1-Other things/tips for future volunteers:
a.- I didn’t bring jeans and I wish I had. BRING JEANS
b.- Bring a light jacket/ sweatshirts
c.- If working with the babies, dress comfortably! PS: your clothes will get covered in food/drool, plan on doing laundry.
d.- Definitely bring extra money to donate. They could always use the money to donate or to pay tuition for one of the boys.
5- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
Going to Zambia was certainly life changing and I look forward to the day I get to go back. I took this trip in the spirit of giving to others; however, the locals gave me SO much more in return. Seeing the kids at the school and orphanage smile day after day, despite the heartbreaking situation many of them were in, was magical. It truly makes you change the way you react to setbacks or disappointments when you return home. In addition to making me a more grateful human being, Zambia taught me to slow down and enjoy the moment. There is no rush, and everyone takes their time greeting and making each other feel comfortable. I miss the sincere kindness of the people I met in Zambia. I also gained a lot of independence from using the buses, managing my funds, and organizing a trip to Victoria Falls. I would absolutely take this trip if I had the chance again. What I learned made the trip entirely worth it.
6- How would you describe/rate your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared). Any suggestions for improvement?
I loved my host family! Mali and Boyd are so generous to be opening their house to me and other volunteers. I stayed in a room with their maid. The first night felt a little awkward but by the second night I didn’t mind one bit. Me and Brendeta became good friends. I thought I was going to go hungry in Zambia, but I was so wrong. I must admit, Zambian food has very little variety and gets old very quickly, but the other volunteers and I could hitch a bus to Arcades or Manda Hill to indulge in burgers, crepes, anything imaginable. At lunchtime, the other volunteers at Moses and I would walk to the corner and buy fritters. They were easily my favorite food in Zambia. Dinners were always homemade and I always went to bed full. I miss mealtime in the living room with Tapiwa, Thandiwe, and Kondwani (the little children at the host family) spilling their food all over the rug. I would advise other volunteers to definitely make a meal for your host family. I made spaghetti and meatballs for my host family and it was a hit! I always felt very safe in Mali’s home, and at the programs. The only times I felt scared were when I was walking through the Chrismall area.
7- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
Going to Victoria Falls with the other volunteers was a BLAST. It was an 8 hour bus ride to get there, but it was totally worth it. We stayed in a hostel and made tons of friends that we went white water rafting with the next day. It was a weekend full of fun and adventure and volunteer bonding.
8.- How was the communication and support you received from ABV prior to traveling? Any suggestions for improvement?
The support was great! My only complaints are that it would have been easier if I was given a more specific packing list and details on vaccinations. I week before my flight I found out I needed a yellow fever vaccination and TB test.
ABV: this list is in the orientation pdf in each volunteers account, and in the Volunteer summary
9 – Are you willing to email/speak to potential volunteers about your ABV experience?