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Volunteer Testimonials

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Jamie Bogaardt: Social Welfare & Education for Deaf Children

Philippines Tacloban City, Philippines  |  Sep 14, 2011
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 I believe if people decide to volunteer somewhere, they will discover who they are and this will make them stronger and more confident. 

Jamie Bogaardt is a courageous 21 year old British volunteer who joined Kaya on our fantastic Social Welfare & Education for Deaf Children in the Philippines placement. Although Jamie is deaf and lost the use of his hearing aid in his first week of volunteering this did not stop his incredible commitment to the project and kids at the school. Jamie has been a fantastic inspiration to the whole of the Kaya team in the Philippines. You can read more about his story below...

Tell us about your experiences with Kaya (sign up process, preparation)

 Signing up for Kaya wasn’t too hard because I told them that I am deaf myself and that I would understand how the kids will feel and how to help them out which they thought was a good idea to have a deaf volunteer. The process wasn’t hard either as I received a lot of advice from them which was very helpful so I wasn’t too worried about how to prepare stuff e.g. what to take, what will I prepare forthe placement, etc.

Tell us what made you chose that particular project/country?

 Before I chose the Philippines project, I was undecided about Philippines and was also looking at Nepal and Vietnam as well. Kaya responded to me very quickly, which helped in my decision. I also heard that Filipino people are famous as a country of friendly people and most Filipinos people can speak English which was a comfort to me. I’ve heard from other people who I know that travelled to the Philippines and they all loved it a lot. I ended up choosing the Philippines and I am really glad that I did.

Tell us about your experience with your host family.

 I was very nervous and shy at first. Of course there is no need to be shy or nervous as the host family were very welcoming and kind so I quickly settled down and got know them. A couple of days later, my hearing aid broke and I started to worry about how to communicate with my host family and other Filipino people, but it turned out that my host family was more than happy to write down things if I couldn’t understand them.

Tell us about your role in your project.

 I taught kids (Grade 5&6) English, Maths and sometimes Science, Art and P.E. I often gave the kids lots of exercise in English and Maths, helped them out if they couldn’t understand and found other ways to explain to make it clearer for them. That was a big challenge for me as all the kids have different levels of knowledge, which was not exactly easy to teach. The kids have been very good with me.

What were you most worried about before you came?

 I was very worried about how will people take me as a deaf person and how I will be able to communicate with them. I was worried what will they think if I am not able to understand them sometimes. Will they reject me after they discover me being deaf? I was also worried about how I will cope being in a foreign country on my own and how will I get some help if I need it.

What have you been surprised by during your stay?

 I was surprised how accepting they were with me. They are so open minded and don’t care about me being deaf and they are more than happy to write things down or use their mobile to text if I couldn’t understand them. They kept including me everywhere so I almost never felt like I was being left out. I am even more surprised that I managed to communicate with so many people and made lots of friends even though my hearing aid was broken. That proved I can do it even if my hearing aid is broken. Everyone was really friendly there.

What has been the highlight of your trip?

 I met a variety of people – volunteers and Filipinos. I learned how to teach the kids some subjects. Being an independent without anyone to tell me what to do and travelling to different places alone with friends can be great fun. I loved having a social life with volunteers and Filipino people. I also loved the taste of some of the food, especially seafood and pineapple as they are so delicious.

What has been a volunteer mean to you (versus just visiting as a tourist)?

 I believe being a volunteer is to help other people from poor countries and try to change their life to better ways. This is also how to live in their culture and understand their culture which can be very interesting. Of course, it was also great to do some travelling as this was interesting to visit different places and learn some of their history.

How has this experience affected you?

 This has given me a different view of life and changed my view of my lifestyle. I don’t know how to explain it but this just does.

Do you think this experience will influence you in your job back at home?

 Yes, this has. This helped me to discover who I am. After I volunteered at the school, I became more interested in becoming a teacher for deaf kids abroad. I think I will need to do some more volunteering until I can truly know myself and exactly know what sort of job I want. I really hope I can become a teacher for deaf kids (you never know, maybe even in the Philippines) to encourage them to be successful in their life like I did and go to university or college. Won’t it feel so amazing to know that I was the one who made deaf kids successful their life?

What would you say to others thinking about taking part in a volunteer project?

 I believe if people decide to volunteer somewhere, they will discover who they are and this will make them stronger and more confident. I also believe that people should volunteer alone so they will meet lots more people and learn so much more than if they volunteer with a friend or someone who they know as this may hold each other a bit back. People will become a lot stronger and confident if they volunteer abroad with someone, which they never met before.

Do you think your work experience was useful to you on your project?

 Definitely yes as I feel a lot more confident with myself than who I was and I am more confident to communicate with hearing people and I am much less worried about what some people think of me and care a lot less about this too. It was really amazing to see the Philippines and live in their culture as this has shocked me a little bit and given me a different view of life. I also discovered who I am and this has helped me know what I want to do in the future.

Any other comments

 I believe anyone can volunteer abroad including deaf people as there is nothing to stop them from doing anything. I would say that this is definitely worth a go and you should all go for it!

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