It was not an easy decision for me to make, whether I as a social work student would actually go to the Philippines to do my almost 3.5 months of compulsory internship; a flight of approximately twenty hours, with three transfers to the other side of the world, without exactly knowing what to expect. But after I have experienced the most exciting and amazing time of my life volunteering with VFV, the decision to return in the future would not be something I´d need to think twice about!
During my stay I initially participated in one of VFV nutrition projects and then I sent the rest of the time as a volunteer at an orphanage. This gave me a valuable insight of how different kind of social work is carried out in the Philippine society, both from the VFV and from the local authorities. As a student with a general academic education of social work, as well as for my future profession, I really must say it was very positive that VFV could offer several options to choose from when it came to in what type of organization I wished to spend my time as a volunteer. Besides this I also appreciated that VFV continuously arranged interesting activities for the volunteers, such as a study visit to a holding center for youth criminals and house visits to the families of the sponsor kids. I also had the opportunity to participate in the outreach activities with vulnerable families in the society, with the purpose to create a better and more sustainable life for them.
Although the staff at the VFV was working very hard, I could always see that they did their best to be helpful and courteous, both towards me as a volunteer as well as the children and adolescents who were affiliated to the organization. One of the things that meant especially much to me during my stay in Tacloban was the warmth and the unconditional kindness that people met me with, despite the fact that they people often lived under more or less strenuous conditions. Another thing that helped me feel comfortable was the very hospitable home stay family I lived with in Bliss. I always felt welcomed and appreciated when I was volunteering with VFV!
No doubt this trip has positively affected me and my way to look at the world and life, but above all I have made friends for life, both Filipinos and people from different countries around the world.
Besides all the exciting and wonderful moments I had during my daily internship placement and as a volunteer, there were also a whole lot of time for leisure and pleasure. Together with other volunteers and with the VFV staff we did excursions. Among other amazing things we were visiting the most incredible places, like unexplored caves in the tropical jungle and stunning beaches. These are unforgettable moments of joy and happiness in my life that I will never forget!
All in all I find it very easy to give you, who have not quite decided yet if you want become a volunteer or not, my strongest advice to go for it. Because I can assure you that you will not be disappointed or regret your decision. I would like to say that volunteering with VFV is a win-win situation, you are given the opportunity to get the best and perhaps the most useful experiences in your life, at the same time as you as a volunteer will help others. Can it get much better?
– Robert Lundberg