Volunteering in the Philippines
Today we have Grasya guest posting about her experiences volunteering in both India and the Phillippines, through VSO.
Where did you volunteer?
I volunteered in Kolkata, India and in the Thai-Burma border. Currently, I’m doing short volunteer stints in my country, the Philippines.
Why did you choose this organization / how did you hear about it?
I heard about VSO from the company where I used to work. Employees go on LOA (Leave of Absence) to contribute and share their skills in other developing countries. I loved the experience the first time so I resigned and went back to be a full time volunteer.
At the moment, I can't see myself working strict hours in the corporate in the near future so I’m gearing myself to travel independently and taking steps to be an independent volunteer to different grassroot communities at the same time.
How long did you spend there and how much did it cost to volunteer there?
I spent around 7 months in India and around 1 year and 3 months in Thailand. We were provided an allowance and a place to live so it didn’t cost me much in terms of money. The allowance you’ll get will depend on which country you will be placed.
I cant remember how much I was spending per day in India but in Thailand, I was spending an average of around 250-300 baht per day.. I can get more frugal than that, but the night markets in Thailand are very tempting.. plus no matter how wee the allowance is, I should find a way to squeeze it so travel should be included in the list of expenses.
What did you learn from your experience?
A lot. You’ll be sharing your skills but you’ll also be taking lots of experience in return. The culture and point of views of various people and genuine friendships are intangible gift the volunteer placement has given me… plus I’ve met the most humble and most caring people that I think I will never meet if I didn’t decide to volunteer.
What was a typical day like?
My work revolves around IT, maintaining/managing websites and social media campaigns.. so I was in front of the computer all the time.
It’s a different setting from the corporate because you see the beneficiaries of your work everyday.. Even if I worked in a regional office in Thailand, you’re still motivated to do the work because you know its for a purpose.
Do you think you will volunteer again?
Yes, I’m doing that in my communities in the Philippines. The mobile project is still ongoing and I’m currently documenting the produce of the rural farm so we can sell veggies online.
And during travels, I make sure I volunteer in communities where I visit.. I don’t just go and have fun, I make sure I help uplift communities in my own small way too.
I plan to do international volunteer work again, but maybe I’ll do this independently next time… hopefully my budget can allow me to do this.
Would you recommend this to anyone else?
Yes, I’d greatly recommend this type of travel to anyone. I do wish it can be a requirement when tourists go visit any developing country. It’s actually also good for the heart.
Can you share a favourite memory from your time there?
My favorite memory is when I was volunteering in a tribal school in S. Cotabato, Philippines just last year.. I was sharing my skill to the teachers so they can have basic email, and facebook accounts..
I was also helping them search information in the internet, and when we found out that a daughter of one of the teachers is listed in a government website indicating she passed a licensure exam, the mother burst into tears.
It was just a simple gesture from me, but it has a huge impact to the recipients.. I just wish I could do more than that.
Grasya loves travel, coffee and poetry. Grasya aims to travel with a purpose and be a full-time fairy so everyone can live a beautiful life. You can visit Grasya’s websites here and here, follow Grasya on Twitter here and ‘like’ her Facebook page here.