Imagine you are 19, imagine the longest you’ve ever been away from home was a 10 day school trip, now imagine that you’re going to spend 6 months volunteering …. half a world away!
This is reality for VFV nutrition volunteer Charlotte – one of our youngest volunteers.
What is it like to take such a big step at this young age?
I caught up with Charlotte to interview her in-between her preparing food and entertaining kids at VFV’s Cangumbang feeding center. It’s a small village half an hour from Tacloban and one of the locations of VFV’s nutrition projects.
What was your first day on the project like?
I was quite overwhelmed and scared about what I was doing. The second day I already felt more settled and realized I liked the cooking and enjoyed meeting the kids.
Tell me more about your project?
The Cangumban Feeding Center was set up for VFV sponsored children from the local area. The center itself was built by VFV. Funds for the food are provided directly by VFV. Each day some local mothers come to help me with the cooking. We provide a hot nutritious meal for roughly 30 children and also ensure they brush their teeth!
What are the kid’s favourite meals?
Fried chicken and rice – they would eat this every day! We try to make sure that they eat vegetables though. Other favorites include chicken adobo, spaghetti with tomato sauce and ginataang manok (chicken with coconut milk and vegetables).
What have you learned in the two months you’ve been here?
I have learned the best ways to communicate with the kids. I’ve also learned a lot about nutrition and the challenges faced by people here compared to at home.
What you would say to another young person thinking about volunteering?
Just do it! It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
What impact has volunteering had on your life?
I have matured and feel like I have grown up overnight. It has forever changed how I see the world.
It has really made me appreciate how I was fed and looked after whilst I was growing up.
Would you volunteer again?
Yes – I would definitely do a gap year again!
Photos and story by Liz Avery – VFV Media Intern