Volunteer: Chile I had a wonderful experience working with the children and elderly people. I learned so much about Chilean culture and really improved my Spanish. I also made some great friends with other ABV volunteers and people at my work. I had a great trip after learning to adjust.
- How was the local ABV Coordinator/staff and the support provided in-country?
They were always available to answer my questions. Tanya and Vilma made me feel very welcome and became good friends.
- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
- Host Family: My host mom spoke very little English, which was hard at first but helped me to learn a ton. She was always very understanding and communicated with me in any way necessary.
- Country: The economic classes are very divided. The lower classes are very defined from the middle and upper classes.
- What was the most challenging thing you experienced
Host Family: Communicating with my host mom was difficult at first, before I was comfortable speaking even a little Spanish.
Program: Trying to communicate was extremely difficult at first and made me feel very lonely even with other volunteers (that speak english) in the house, because I still struggled a lot when at work. After about 5 weeks I became much more comfortable with speaking Spanish and finally felt like I was able to help in the places where I was volunteering.
- Any tips for future volunteers…( clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
- At the orphanage, the children frequently get lice. Bring lice prevention oils and shampoo (I used tea tree oil).
- DEFINITELY brush up on your Spanish before arriving. I recommend taking Spanish immersion if you are not comfortable speaking yet.
- The house is cold at night, if you are coming in winter. Bring warm clothes to sleep in and fuzzy socks.
- The orphanage and elderly home always need donations. The orphanage can take used clothes and toys and the elderly home could always use diapers, toiletries, and money
- I would recommend buying a SIM card for your phone so you can use wifi outside of the house. You can buy them at most vendors and they are easy to recharge – make sure your phone is unlocked and that it won’t erase everything (Phone companies have different policies for using different SIM cards).
- Other things volunteers should know before coming here:(that’s not in the orientation guide)
- Bring warm clothes for at night.
- Bring adapters for outlets.
- You have to pay for laundry – it is ChP$2000 pesos for each wash (3-4US$).
- Wifi is only ChP$5000 pesos per month – very cheap and worth it. (US$7-8)
- Vilma has a cat, you can shut the door so the cat does not come up to the second floor.
- Personal paragraph about the experience (ABV Program Testimonial):
I worked at both the orphanage (6 weeks) and elderly home (2 weeks). Both organizations are run my Sisters, who are so kind and made me feel extremely welcome. They made my experience so great. Overall, I had a wonderful experience working with the children and elderly people.
I learned so much about Chilean culture and really improved my Spanish. I also made some great friends with other ABV volunteers and people at my work. I had a great trip after learning to adjust.
- How would you describe your accommodations, meal, security, friendliness, quality others:
My host mom cooked plenty of food for us and adjusted her cooking to my dietary needs (I cannot eat gluten or lactose). Her food is delicious! I always felt safe and everyone was very nice. Vilma and Tanya are very kind. Although I would not recommend walking alone at night, but I felt safe when I did.
- What was your favorite memory on this trip?
- Host Family: Vilma was making a sweater for Tanya and Vilma’s cat Lisa would always sit on the sweater. Lisa was always a joke for the family.
- Country: On my second-to-last day at work at the elderly home, I ate lunch with the Hermanas (the Religious Sisters) and they were SO funny. Everyone jokes with me here because I love peanut butter so much and it is not very popular hear, but one of the sisters also loves it and even puts it on her fish! They made me feel very welcome and I was able to work closely with them to help at the home.
- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling? (who helped you, emails, phone calls, chat online, how fast did you get an answer, did you get all your answers)
ABV support was extremely helpful. I asked so many questions and always got a very rapid response. You can also save your chats on the website and email them to yourself which was very helpful.
- What do you think of the reservation system online?
It was very easy to use and always sent me reminders.
I found out about ABV through a Google search for volunteer trips with kids.
- Are you willing to talk to other potential ABV volunteers?