I would not trade this month for the world. It has given me incredible into lives that are so far from my own. As cliche as it sounds, my life will never be the same and for that I am forever grateful.
1.-How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
Absolutely amazing. Rafael and his entire family were warm, welcoming, and loving. THEY are such a huge part of what made this experience so amazing. The family is huge, and it will feel like you’re seeing a new person each day. Make sure to get to know each new person, because they will add so much to your life here. I cannot say enough about the family!
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
At the program: The hospitals, specially the regional, can be tough to work in. I challenge you to walk into your day with a completely open mind. Understand that there are very different standards here, but different does not mean bad. Learn from them!
At the accommodation: How many people live in this house!! It’s wonderful, and I strongly encourage getting to know everyone here. They are so amazing and loving, and become your family if you let them. I know I will miss and think about them all after I leave.
About the country: The BEAUTY! This country is green as can be, with constant sunshine, breeze from the sea, and views of the amazing mountains that surround this city. With quick and occasional rain showers (depending on the season you come in) you have a perfect balance of heat and cooling off. I cannot say how beautiful nature is here. Take it all in.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
At the program: There are times when you will be working in the hospital and feel frustrated or embarrassed. Some doctors speak English, but for the most part the language barrier is something you will have to constantly climb. Don’t let this discourage you!!! Try and get some practice in before coming, and most of all ASK QUESTIONS! This is the only way you’ll get better, and you will get better
At the accommodation: This is tough question because in so many ways, any “rough” experiences at our home stay weren’t difficult at all. The showers here are cold, there’s no hot water in La Ceiba, but there’s also no reason for it. You will be so hot by the end of the day you’ll be excited to get into your freezing shower. The second “difficult” experience is that periodically, certain grids of the city will loose power. It’s an easy fix however, as when the power goes off you and the whole family migrate to the porch to get some fresh air. In many ways, it’s really nice! Quality time, no wifi, no worries.
The country: I will say that it can be tough to see the way some people live, but this is a constant around the world. It can be draining, but the moments of happiness in this trip out weigh any moments of sadness by a long shot.
4- Any tips for future volunteers…
Clothing: Tank tops, tank tops, tank tops. I brought some tshirts, but minus my super light weight ones, I couldn’t bring myself to wear them. Too hot!
Also don’t be afraid to pack a few sundresses. You never know where your weekend will take you, be it Cayo’s Cochinos or Utila!
As for shoes, I suggest Chaco’s. They are so versatile and sturdy and are perfect to wear when you’re walking around the city or the mountains.
Donations: BRING DONATIONS. I cannot stress this enough. There is only so much you can do while working in the hospital…but the donations will go far. And if you cannot bring donations physically, fundraise, fundraise, fundraise and come with a $1,000 US check and buy things for them here. Bring anything you can and as much as you possibly can!
(A great resource to help you with this is an organization called Americares. They helped us bring nearly $8,000 worth of supplies for nearly free. They are amazing, and it will help not only you but the hospital!)
Weather: It’s hot. However, depending on how long you’re staying you do seem to acclimate (or just expect the heat?). Either way, be prepared to sweat so much that at some point stop caring about how much you’re sweating. It’s an experience and it’s awesome
4.1-Other things volunteers should know:
a.- DONATIONS. Donations. Donations. Bring them or bring fundraiser money for the hospitals!!
b.- Come here for longer than a week. Staying here for a week allows you to gain from your time here, but doesn’t allow you to give much. I would suggest coming for two weeks at MINIMUM.
c.- Sign up and pay for the Spanish lessons!! They are so worth your time and money, and will make your transition here so much easier. The teachers are so great and the learning you do is so important
5- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial), don’t leave blank:
I would not trade this month for the world. It has given me incredible into lives that are so far from my own. As cliche as it sounds, my life will never be the same and for that I am forever grateful. Time changes you here in the most positive of ways. I cannot thank the people here enough for what they’ve given me, and I can only hope I’ve given them half of what I’ve gotten.
6- How would you describe your accommodation, meals and security:
The accommodations here are beyond amazing. You are never left hungry, and the Honduran food is beyond amazing. Get ready for Baleada Monday’s!!
As for security, I have quite literally never felt unsafe in this wonderful home. It’s beautiful and safe and comfortable. I cannot stress enough how awesome this home is!
7- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
Program: ABV has been beyond wonderful! We actually had the unique experience of meeting someone in the hospital working for another organization. This other organization was quite terrible, and left the volunteer with no contacts or help. Rafael ended up stepping in and taking her under his wing. Her 3 weeks here were immediately changed, and she left happy because of Rafael and what he knows from ABV. This is truly a wonderful and trustworthy organization, and I am thankful every day we found this company.
Country: The people. I almost don’t want to say too much, as it is totally a wonderful personal experience. I will say, that I have met some of the kindest people here and a sense of hospitality and community I have never quite seen back in the US. Definitely come here and check it out for yourself as it is a life changing experience!
8.- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
ABV USA support was great during our time here! They emailed us a handful of times, making sure we had all emergency contacts we needed, that we were settling in nicely, and enjoying our time here.
Website Information: The website is great and so easy to navigate. If you are struggling with anything you can use the live chat as well, and there is always someone from ABV on the other end to answer your questions!
9 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?