Saskia Emmerzaal

After my studies, Cultural and Social Development in Rotterdam, I wanted nothing more than going on a trip! Saskia EmmerzaalBesides just seeing new cultures and doing sightseeing, I had in mind to stay a bit longer in one place and get to know a country a bit better through volunteering. After some searching and deliberation, I finally decided to visit Laos and thus also to the Help Laos Foundation. What immediately attracted me was that the Foundation works with the vision that they want to put people in their own strength, and thus work towards self-sufficiency. After talking with the organization, volunteering in Laos was indeed part of my trip.

After having spent a month in Indonesia, I moved on to Laos. This long journey was rather hard for me, but fortunately I was greeted and picked up by a fellow volunteer. What a warm welcome! They gave me a tour around the village and told me all I needed to know. My bed was ready and Mr. Bounchan, head of the village, had practiced all week to say my name correctly. I arrived on a Friday, so on Saturday and Sunday I could immediately help with English classes for the children.

Saturday morning we were woken early by the children (much too early) ready to start with the lessons. What an enthusiasm! After having repeated the previous lessons, it was time to move on with the next lesson. Then we read books with the children and played some games. The older children were already well on their way with their English, so we were able to make good progress. At first the kids were a little shy and hesitant, but this shyness disappeared very quickly. In no time I gathered drawings and folded paper hearts made by the children for me. Also they tried to enter into a conversation with me in their best English.

In addition to giving these lessons we also visited schools and built-in libraries. It is wonderful to see how the foundation has been able to help so much, and the kids love the books that can be borrowed. Furthermore, it was quite an experience to stay in a community, like going to the market to buy your own groceries and to cook them yourself. Sometimes it is a bit getting used to, but it is certainly more authentic than the rest of my trip. People are so friendly!

With many photos and rich experiences I travelled further, with many new memories. A must for anyone who wants to do something special!