My Favorite Memory… We both consider such a rewarding feeling the one we got by making difficult kids smile and be confident with themselves, us and people around: when you first meet them they are reluctant, restive to any activity, they do not participate while they are serene, full of energy at the end of the day. Some other nice memories of youngest, 3-4 years old, learning new things: kicking the ball etc. We also enjoyed the time we shared with the Zambian family: it is a chance to talk about different culture and society.
I was surprised that… Zambia is such a safe and welcoming country
The most difficult thing I experienced was… Emotionally was quite challenging to be there with infants while you know they are abandoned and soon or later you have to leave, back to your country. Physically was tiring to feed, play with all kids 8 hours per day and be back not your European comfortable home, not such a comfortable accommodation, still nice but no hot water, no insects, small beds etc. :-)
My best received lesson… With kids you always forget how much tired you are, you can always start a new day with a full smile on your face
Tip for future volunteers (Clothing, travel, personal items, donations, sightseeing etc)… Be respectful and enjoy the welcome. Be spontaneous, there’s no fear of doing anything wrong but ask about local customs for ex. Do man help at home, is it strange? Fos ex. I and Filippo cooked some pasta for dinner for the Zambian family where we stayed and Olivia told us that’s not so common to see men helping in the kitchen. In rural areas could even appear too weird.
Before leaving make a lot of questions to ABV and the local organizations when it is possible: to have a more specific idea about orphanages needs would help a lot to be prepared and help more effectively. Pack less (it possible to wash personal clothing by hands) to save space to travel easily or bring usefull things you cannot find ther. A night light, the one to wear on the top of your head or just a flash light, pocket torch is really useful. Sometimes the electricity is out of service. Zambia is full of National Parks: it is possible to match your visit as volunteer with some visiting and wildlife safaris.
Make copies of your personal documents, bring copies of your phone contacts and local contacts phones, a local cell phone card is much cheaper.
at the orphanage just be helpful and give cares to these kids. Bring some extra disinfectant for hands, and insects repellent (nits, mosquitos): it is very very clean and there are strict rules about hygine for ex. take off your shoes, wash your hands… but with kids is
Personal Paragraph (Testimonial): I would always recommend this experience to share love and care, to experience life in a very different country. I have done some volunteering in my home country and it is much different: it is 8 hours per day, you live in a different family. Challenging and rewarding but more than full time.
How would you rate your experience working with the ABV staff, both in the USA, and in-country? from 1 to 10: both 10.
We have been fully assisted by US staff and more than fully helped, welcomed by the local staff.
How would you describe your accommodation ( ie: host family, on-site, shared housing etc)
Our first arrival has been made very easy by the welcome of the local contact who was waiting for us at the Airport . Once at home we could leave our bags and go to one big mall to buy some few extra food or other small things (cell phone card etc.). Life at the host family home is quite easy since the make you feel at home, it is nice to help them to make some food and learn new things. Enjoy the sharing! We loved our dinner togethers talking about Zambia, Italy, society dreams. The first feeling might be difficult if you are not awared that you will stay in a local family: compared to European standards of living there is a big difference: no table, no seats, they eat using dishes but by hands, hygiene is ok but there are bugs and spiders around, even in the food cupboard, no hot water. It is very nice to walk to and back from the orphanage since it gives a nice start in the morning and a nice relax in the evening, on the way there are some local basic shops but full of useful things: food, beverages, personal care goods like soap, shampoo.
Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
Yes, we had already spoken to some friends and one Doctor who could be interested in the Medical projects.
Alessandra & Filippo Volunteer in Lusaka, Zambia