One of the great advantages of volunteering with VFV is the wealth of projects offered to suit each volunteer’s personal interests and talents, no matter what niche. Like Allyn Auslander, for instance, who –when she isn’t working at her rural health clinic projects – is busy filling out applications for post-graduate study in epidemiology. Do her experiences at VFV prove useful for her research interests? “Absolutely. I’ve only been here a few days and already seen so many unusual conditions: Schistosomiasis, Scabies, Tuberculosis, Leprosy. Yesterday, we even had a man come in who needed to be treated for a rabies bite”.
Hippocrates may have been two thousand years ahead of his time when he noted “our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food”, but, as any nutritionist will tell you – encouraging people to eat healthily is still an uphill struggle.
Yet, this is exactly what Max Griffiths and Lizzie Greenwood, current nutrition volunteers at VFV, are attempting to achieve. Having just embarked upon a ten-month placement based in the small village of San Juan, they are implementing a major project aiming to tackle malnourishment in local children. Not only are they providing daily free meals, but also offering education on healthy eating and practical solutions for local families which – crucially – are sustainable in the long term.
Alternative Learning System is a project only for those willing to throw themselves in at the deep end.
On his first day on placement, with no prior teaching experience, 19-year-old Thad Pinakiewicz was placed in front of a classroom full of twenty-three, wide-eyed adult students, charged with teaching them an entire curriculum, from world religion to the periodic table. How did he fare?