Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Times in Tanzania

Images by Laura Woolacott GapBreak 2008

Life in Kenya!

Images by Zoe Henry GapBreak 2008

Monday, 10 November 2008

IGS Expedition Photos

IGS have returned from their successful Expedition to India. Here are some photographs by their Antipodeans Abroad Leader Fred!

This is the rest of the post

GapBreak Ecuador Update!

Written by: Ella Fisher, GapBreak Ecuador 2008
Photos by: Ella Fisher and In-country Agent Marcelo

Hola Everybody,
I am loving my volunteer project at the Instituto Fiscal Discapacidad Motriz. I think it will be very hard to leave, the kids and my work colleagues are amazing. So far I have spent our fundraising money on two murals. The first, with an inspirational education quote, is what you see first when you enter the school and is a makes a much happier first impression of the school.

The second on a 20 m wall behind the play equipment is of cartoons, including a kangaroo and Tasmanian devil. There are also areas for the children to do some hand printing, although they have already contributed as the painters were extremely accommodating of the kids. I have managed to only get one set of clothes covered in paint so far. lol. The mural has been alot of fun for the kids to interact with different people in the school and do some painting, and it certainly brightens the place up alot, drawing attention away from the barbed wire etc.

We have also begun a pen pal arrangement with Mum’s kids at Dungog High School, which has really excited the teachers and students of the school. They are very interested in the facilities and technology for disabled people in Australia. They got very excited when they saw ¨The Big Red Switch¨, a big button for children who cannot use a keyboard, to communicate through a computer. So Mum and Dad organised to get some Australian software and the switch. Dad is going to bring it here when he comes over to visit the Galapagos Islands with me. I am also planning to buy a computer for the school, as they only have one for 70 or so students and they just don’t get the opportunities for other methods of communication and learning new skills. Thank you all again for donating money, it is extremely appreciated by the school, they send their thanks to you all.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Guitar Lessons in Ghana

By Nick Ferguson, GapBreak Ghana 2008

Hallooo everyone wo hote sen? How are you doing? As for me, bokooo
(relaxed, life is good, stay cool) It's really feeling like i live
here and am at home around Swedru, which is special because anywhere
else you go, no matter how close, its hard to lose the visitor feeling
with the constant "obruni wohoke?' where are you going? where too?

Kate and i went to church a while ago with our host mum 'aunty' Esi,
and it was really fun - just in a small room in Achiase, with lots of
drumming and singing, prayers and passionate 'amen!'s and
"hallelujahs. The only shoes i had were the hiking boots, which looked
ridiculous i think as anyone we passed broke into laughter and
pointed. But it was fine i liked giving them something odd to be happy
about. Esi speaks virtually no english, bar 'food is ready!' and
'small time, small time,' ; she's such a big mumma, excited grin and
we all try hard to say things through charades. Usually a couple of
mornings a week (like this morning) before dawn she wonders around the
courtyard with a grass broom singing loudly, erratically and
passionately. I'd love to understand the words, but its just as good
anyway to wake up to.

The last week there have been giant rain storms in the afternoon and
night, bringing a fantastic smell and colour to everything, and
sounding veryy bokoo on the my tin roof. Allll good except some goats
tend to choose MY little shelter to spend the night in, and shit in,
for me to find in the morning.

I went with a few other obrunis to Aburi, about four hours and three
trotros away, a small village quite high up with beautiful views
accross the north and also down to accra. We did a 13 km mountain bike
track that wove down through the village, into the bush through four
metre high crops that seemed to hold in massive blasts of heat at our
level, narrow rocky trails past little house and swimming holes, and
into eerily shady and cool bamboo foresty parts. And cold pineapple
when we got back! I like to get some sugar cane for these long trips
and chew/suck through all the green, green hills and small villages.
That day we left at about 4 am, so we everywhere slowly coming alive,
preparing for another day, quietly without the noise and rush that
comes later on. The colors everywhere still always take me back; the
glary, vivid greens and earthy reds seem to change and each day its
like you're seeing them for the first time.

School is going well. It was founders day last friday, so kate and i
joined all the kids in a dancing, drumming and singing parade through
Afransi village. I lovedd it. I'll send some photos soon. Still
playing for/with a few classes a day. Often now its a trade game - i
play one, then they'll sing one of their songs. Feel pretty lucky. At
the moment i like Kate's class 6, they love 'in the jungle,' doing
wimbowehs and im teaching a little guy Joseph the lyrics. He has a
really nice, different voice. Times up

Hope all is good for you, x Love nick

Packing it up in Peru- The End!

Images by Rebekah Thackray and Zoe Edema, Peru 2008
Words by Rebekah Thackray, GapBreak

Well I have officially finished my volunteer placement here. At the school we had parties with our classes which was really lovely and really precious for us and the kids. On our last day the students, teachers and parents surprised us by putting on this big performance for us. Each grade did a performance of some kind either a traditional dance, a song, a drama or a poem. It was really sweet to watch and the kids looked beautiful in their traditional clothing. It was also really touching that they worked so hard to prepare these performances for us.

The directora (the principle) then thanked us which was really lovely especially seeing as I think we gained so much and learned so much more from them than we taught. The parents and teachers surprised us witht these gifts of a beanie and a scarf each and they put them on us. It was a bit funny because they couldn't actually fit my beanie on my head because of my dredlocks haha. We then had the inauguration of the toilets. What they did was they tied champaigne bottles to the doors and they got us to smash them with hammers to signify opening them. It was fun and also a bit of a spectacle.

The parents then had one last surprise, they had cooked us this big lunch. It was yummy!! I tell you what Peruvians sure do know how to cook. We said goodbye to the teachers and students. It was really hard to say goodbye especially when we had really started getting to know them individually. I think I am missing my year 6 class the most, they were very cheeky but also very bright and sweet.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Final GapBreak Peru ICA Update!

This is the summary

Final Update from Guille, In-Country Agent in Peru.

Houses and families- All of the volunteers are happy and sad at the same time to be leaving their families. All of the reports are really good and there are no complaints. It has been a very good experience for them (the volunteers) as well as for the families and everyone is very happy.

Classes in the School- The volunteers have overcome all of the challenges that they had; they gave very good classes with good teaching methods. They also left a lot of information for following groups of volunteers (folders with all of the work, drawings, etc from the children). The teachers did not have any problems with the volunteers; the contrary, they really enjoyed working together.

Construction project (Toilet Block) - the toilet blocks were finished and now they are bigger, hygienic and safe – something that is really good for the children in the school.

Farewell Ceremony – There was a ceremony to say good by to the volunteers. It was very nice and emotional. The entire institution was present, including parents of the families, people from the community, teachers, etc.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Time flies in Thailand

by Stephanie Dodd – Thailand GapBreak 2008

The weekend we wanted to go to the Golden Triangle but it didn't happen because we had to do a visa run! We went to Mae Sai, the town on the Thai side of the Thai/Myanmar[Burma] border and then crossed over for a bit. On the other side there are markets where every thing is really cheap and you can buy stuff that's illegal in Thailand such as playing cards. We bought some DVDs and stuff.. It was certainly strange for me to stand in that country because I did a lot of research on the polical state of Burma in Year 11 at school. Trust me, it's far from pretty. Well the political side of things anyway. It was quite an odd feeling.

After that we headed to Mae Salong, a town settled by Chinese anti-communists who feld the 1949 Revolution. It's a town built up on a mountain ridge and the ride up there was absolutely amazing. By complete fluke it turned out that we drove up just as the sun was setting which made for beautiful scenery in amongst the mountains. ] It was lovely up there and very calm and quiet. Also quite cold! The place we stayed at turned out to be a bit dodgy, but it made for a few laughs looking back on it. On the Sunday we trekked up 718 to the Wat [Temple] at the top of the mountain. It was AMAZING up there and definitely worth the climb. We all took plenty of photos and took in the view. Then we got silly by taking photos using the self-timer setting on our cameras. Very funny.

Then another week volunteering when we finished the last English camp for the scholarship kids. Last Wednesday night we had a party to celebrate the end of the camp. It was fun and at the end a few of the girls wouldn't stop hugging us. I felt very special to have made such a different and to have had such an impact on their lives. A few of them have come back this week to help with the camp we're currently running for younger kids.

Last weekend Paul [our in-country agent] took us to the Golden Triangle for the day. The first stop was at a monkey cave where we fed monkeys and laughed at them and stufff. Then visited the Hall of Opium and had a crash history lesson in opium and the trade and wars over the plant/drug involving Britain, China and Siam [Thailand's former name]. It was very interesting and I learnt a lot. Then had lunch sitting on Thailand whilst looking at Burma and Laos! And got in a speed boat [don't worry Mum I was wearing a life jacket] on the Mekong and went to some markets in Laos! After that we headed back to Chiang Rai just to chill out.

This week we started the new camp, as mentioned earlier! There are about 24 kids aged 10-13 with varying english skills. Although, I have been teaching Maths! And enjoying it. They kids are understanding what I'm teaching, but the boys can get very restless and disruptive. They mainly just want to climb trees and play soccer... But that's to be expected. We're all getting pretty tired from the work we're doing so when this camp finishes [next Friday] we'll all be relieved! But then school starts again so hello to being busy again!

I'm having a great time and not missing home all that much [sorry Mum/Dad/Kate/Claire/Mischa/Darren]. And today is exactly 3 months until I'm home! wow! So far it's been a really fantastic experience and I'm learning so much about Thailand, teaching, myself and other people.