There are a growing number of ‘volunteer travellers’ — globetrotters taking the opportunity to share their skills and knowledge and help a community in need while abroad.
For New Zealand volunteer, Hugh Johnstone, his time with VFV is the second stop on a 13-month-long trip volunteering around the world.
Hugh’s desire to see the world while also ‘giving something back’ took him to Jordan in the Middle East before his three-month stint working on VFV’s construction project. Next he will do farm work through WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms) in France before heading to China to teach English.
“I wanted to mix up my surroundings and experience somewhere other than New Zealand while at the same time making a difference in a country that needs help,” explained the 18-year-old.
Hugh is working alongside volunteers from Canadian non-profit organisation, Global Medic to build houses in rural Salvacion for families left homeless by Typhoon Yolanda.
“I like the social aspect of this project and the sense that the work I am doing is having a direct impact on the area in need — instead of just the funding,” he said.
VFV construction volunteers can spend time working on the Build-A-Home or Build-A-School projects or they can be sent to aid larger construction projects in partnership with other NGOs.
Hugh painted on VFV’s last Build-A-Home project but said he has had the most fun working with the large local workforce at Salvacion.
“Meeting and spending time with the local guys is the best part of this experience,” said Hugh.
“They never run out of energy or humour; they always have reserves.
“It’s very energising for me!”
“Hugh is hardworking and it has been great to get to know him,” said Neo, one of the local workers on site.
“We have taught him a little Waray; he will speak it well with a little more practise!”
*Written by volunteer Emma Bailie, journalist from Australia