Working Holiday Job on a sugar cane farm in Okinawa

We asked Markus from Germany to tell us about his experience working for a sugar cane farmer on the small island of Miyakojima, roughly 300 kilometers away from Okinawa main island. He arrived in May 2020 and worked there for a month. With a smile he looks back at his extraordinary experience in the very south of Japan.

What was the farm like?

(laughs) Funny enough, I actually worked for some sort of Japanese Buddhist cult. I learned that they send the sugar cane harvest to their Buddhist headquarters, which is located near Osaka. Apparently they collect harvest and other goods from all sorts of places all over Japan and then sell it elsewhere. Every morning they’d also have like a morning prayer and at some point I had to join as well. But it sounds stranger than it was, the people were incredibly friendly and nice. I did some research and apparently there are a lot of peaceful Buddhist movements in Japan.

Why did you choose to work on a farm?

I wanted to live and work in Okinawa for a month, because I’d heard many good things about the island. So I contacted World Unite! and asked if it was possible to do farm work there. Eventually I got a job offer from a sugar cane plantation on Miyakojima and I thought: “Why not?”. So on May 26th I flew south.

What did you typical work day look like?

I’d wake up around 4:40am, take a shower and have breakfast. Then I’d talk to my housemates, pack my gear for the day and we’d leave for the fields, so that we could start at 6am. There were two shifts every day, the first was from 6am to 10am, and the second was from 3pm to 7pm. Like this, we would avoid the worst heat during the day. We would get around 40 degrees, which was tough. So every day was eight hours of work.

What I did was basically chopping off sugar cane and making it ready for transport. You could roughly break it down into five steps. The first step was to tear off the leaves from the top. The second was to chop off the sugar cane right above the root. Third step was to collect all the sugar cane plants and pile them up on a heap. The fourth step would be to tear the last of the leaves off and the fifth step was to tie them together, so they were easier to transport.

What did you earn with your work?

I earned 4500 JPY a day (~35 EUR). However, I didn’t have to pay for my accommodation nor for food.

How did you spend your free time?

During my free time I explored the island with my working colleagues, because many of them were there for the first time, too, just like me. Other than that I’d just relax and take it easy.

Did your Japanese improve during your time on the farm?

Yes, definitely. Interestingly, my boss was kind of a Germany-fan, and he knew some words. And one co-worker could speak basic English. But aside from that they only used Japanese. My co-workers were all super friendly, also my boss was really cool. I’m still in contact with all of them.

In general, all the people on the island were really nice, however it was also kind of funny and weird at the same time to be the only “white” person on the entire island. I was kind of an attraction for the people.

Did you experience any lows during your time?

I have to admit, there was one. It was the first day, the day before my actual work started. It was hot in my room, I couldn’t sleep and I knew I had to work outside in the heat the next day – that was when I was quite terrified of it all. But after that, it was fine and it all went well. But of course it was hard at first, and I discovered for myself that I don’t want to become a sugar cane farmer, at least for the long term. But at the same time I was glad that I’d done it.

What would you tell others who are thinking about doing farm work in Japan?

I think people should be aware what they get themselves into. Farm work is hard, physical labour and people should be really sure that they want to do that.

It is important to learn how to control or at least filter your thoughts. It sounds generic, but you have to keep thinking positively. If you have a positive mindset, you’ll have the most amazing time.

In terms of the beautiful island of Miyakojima, I’d say you should be aware that it is difficult to get off the island, especially if you can’t drive or you don’t have a car. I was glad my co-worker would give me lifts regularly, but aside from that there is hardly anything. You definitely can’t rely on the public transport.

Did this experience shape you as a person?

I would definitely say that this experience taught me new ways of thinking. The people on the island were insanely nice. They lead simple lives, but they are so genuinely happy and content, and I think I kind of absorbed some of that attitude. The people are always in a good mood and happy, and it really rubbed off on me. You learn to appreciate the little things, it all really inspired me.

What do you do now?

I arrived in Osaka on July 9th. I’m working in a guest house and izakaya, and I also live there. I’m thinking of working here for at least another month and after that, I’m not sure yet. But I’m thinking of staying in Osaka. My visa expires on April 18th, and I want to stay in Japan the entire 12 months that the Working Holiday Visa provides me.

Here you can find all information about Markus’ farm work. Register now!

Markus enjoyed his time on the small island Miyakojima to the fullest

Remote tourism internship in Myanmar

As international travel is slowly picking up again, a remote internship is still a good alternative to travelling abroad for your international internship! It gives you the opportunity to gain intercultural experience and can give you a fresh look on your field of interest while communicating with a team from a different cultural background. Rina from Japan completed a remote internship in Myanmar. For 4 weeks, she supported a tour operator in Myanmar without having to leave her home country.

Gain international work experience, without leaving your home!

What did you do in your internship?

Firstly, I was able to deepen my knowledge of the tourism industry in Myanmar. I was getting into marketing research and created buyer personas, which had never done before! That was a valuable experience, that I will be able to use in the future.

I also researched the tourism sector in Japan and then created programs for the Japanese market, helping my internship partner to expand their business in Japan. I also created and uploaded a video to social networking sites. I really liked creating a new program for the tour operator. That was fun and I learned much about tourist attractions in Myanmar.

Did you have any worries before starting your internship? What piece of advice would you give to those who are thinking about participating!

I was worried that I would have problems communicating with my internship partner because all communication was in English. I was actually worried about many things at first, but thanks to the support of everyone at World Unite!, I was able to enjoy the internship and make the most of it! Whenever I asked for advice, they responded quickly and were really helpful.

I would tell anyone who is thinking about a remote internship to just go for it!

The internship allows you to deepen your knowledge in your field of interest and to improve your English skills. If you are thinking about working globally in the future, you should definitely participate!

What else are you taking with you from this experience?

This internship helped me to reaffirm my desire to work in the field of tourism in the future. I know now that I will deepen my knowledge in that area in order to create a future career! I realized that my English skills are still not good enough in order to aspire for an international career. So my next goal is to improve my English skills.

Here you can find all information about Rina’s internship. Register now and use your time at home effectively!

A remote internship allows you to complete an internship abroad without travelling abroad yourself. Your internship supervisor will take care of you online and give you tasks and feedback via Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp and email.

Annika’s experience at the Mother Nature Camp in Zanzibar

Annika from Germany decided to go to Zanzibar during the COVID-19 pandemic in September 2020 and fell in love with the tropical island. She volunteered for 2 months and had a great time at the Mother Nature Conservation Camp. In today’s Blog post, she wants to share some of her experience.

Annika supported the environmental conservation activities in rural Zanzibar

The Mother Nature Environmental Conservation Camp

The Mother Nature Camp, surrounded by giant mango trees, climbing passion fruit plants and tall palm trees, will be my new home for the next few weeks.
Apart from the Safari tents, there is a communal area with a large wooden table and benches, two hammocks and a ping-pong table. This is where we meet to eat our daily meals, play cards in the evening, do sports or drink tea. Those who prefer to spend some alone time can retreat to their tent, which the staff will not enter without asking. The tents are big, each has three bunk beds, a toilet and a shower corner. At night, you might hear the high pitch sound of the Bush babies, who come to visit regularly and climb the roofs of the tents.
Our camp is right next to the small village Kitogani. There are no cafes or restaurants, but there are vegetable stands and a small supermarket at the side of the road where you can get a few things. In the evening, the Kitoganis like to sit in front of old tube TVs on the street, as if being in the cinema, and cheer to the football.
I find it particularly exciting how gardens and courtyards are used intensively. What might appear messy at first glance turns out to be a functioning ecosystem, apart from the plastic waste lying around. The locals create something useful out of every root, bark, leaf and fruit.
It is almost impossible not to feel home in the camp immediately – the volunteers are welcomed warmly like into a big family. I was able to reach out for help about everything that was on my mind and very quickly felt familiar with everything.
Every day, Zainab cooks the most delicious kinds of local specialties. Even those who like to eat a lot don’t need to worry, because there is always a supply. Also vegetarian and vegan options are possible.

Our gorgeous team will welcome you like a family member

My arrival in times of Corona

I travelled to Tanzania during the corona pandemic and was concerned like many other people! My preparation and the staff of World Unite! – both internationally and on-site – made me feel more at ease and so I started my journey to Africa. My flight was postponed three times before I took off with Qatar Airlines. During the entire flight, I had to wear a protective visor in addition to the mouth and nose cover, but I had a whole row of seats to myself!

When I arrived in Zanzibar, Corona didn’t seem to be a big issue anymore. But it was very clear that the Zanzibari are suffering extremely under the economic crisis because of the lack of tourists.

What were my tasks?

After the first days of settling in, Mr. Mohammed introduced a weekly schedule with various activities that are important in development aid. The diverse activities give you an insight into the life of the locals, the life of the school kids and the animal world. If you are interested in a special activity or field don’t be afraid to communicate your wish – Mr. Mohammed will happily integrate this into the weekly plan. On a typical working day, you will work around 3 hours in the morning and another 2 hours in the late afternoon. Here are a few of the activities:

Turtles

The Turtles & Tortoise Land nearby hosts green sea turtles and land turtles, such as the Aldabra giant tortoise. The tasks of the volunteers include collecting, feeding and cleaning the enclosures and animals. To do so, the sea turtles, which can weigh up to 60kg, are lifted out of the water with the help of the staff and then scrubbed off gently with sand and a brush.

Organic Farming

Most of the time we work on plantations. Here we helped the local farmers to water, fertilize and pull weeds. I learned a lot about plants, including how to plant mangroves. The farm work only happens early in the morning and in the evening because it would otherwise be too hot.

Nursery School

Already as a young girl, I dreamed of teaching children in Africa. This dream has come true. As soon as we enter the class, the 4- to 5-year-olds happily welcome us with waving hands and loud screams of Jambo Jambo.

We were supposed to make the kids more familiar with English and so we taught them the days of the week, numbers up to 20, and songs.

And much more

There were many other activities, depending on the importance and needs of the local community. We helped with the construction of the school toilet or the mosque.

I also paid a visit to the local healer, who taught us on medicinal plants and their effects. We also spent a day with a local family and got an insight into their live.

Supporting local farmers is one of the main activities

The weekends are off – discover the contrasts of Zanzibar!

The weekends are off and begin on Friday afternoon. It’s up to you what you want to do and discover – the options are plenty!

I went on some great excursions that I mostly planned with the other volunteers, whom I befriended quickly. We visited the historic Prison Island, Stone Town and a Maasai village, went surfing and kite surfing, snorkeling, did yoga, and went to beach parties. We also went on a trip to Dar-es-Salaam and even on a fabulous safari on mainland. Most of the time, we visited breathtaking, paradisiacal beaches with azure-blue and emerald-green water. Paje Beach is only 15 minutes away by public bus (Daladala)!

Even on a distance as small as between the rainforest and the touristy beaches, the conflict of the island becomes very clear – the gap between poverty and wealth, simplicity and glamor, tradition and modern tourism. The houses of locals are made of clay and coral or are prefabricated buildings – gifts of Walter Ulbricht from a long gone GDR.

Compared to European countries, life on the island in the Indian Ocean is incredibly cheap. A ride on the Daladala to the beach costs the equivalent of € 0,17 and a visit to a local restaurant starts at € 2. For the Zanzibari, however, a fortune. The nursery school where I work asks for a monthly tuition fee of around € 1 but sadly, many parents are unable to pay this money. The majority have never left the island because of the extremely low income.

To the benefit of the environment, everything is used until it really falls apart and can no longer be repaired: worn out tires serve as fences or seats, old canisters as watering cans, empty rice bags as flowerpots and rags made from clothing scraps. Us, as tourists, should take this form of sustainability as an example.

The tourists can be found on the beach. Magnificent hotels with pools line the coast. The life of the tourists rarely mixes with that of the locals – rather they run parallel, except for when they come together in the exchange of fruit, clothes or handmade jewelry. You can see female tourists in skimpy clothes, while the majority of native women wear headscarves. Tourist attractions such as water sports are even rather expensive for us.

Our means of transport from camp to beach: Daladala

A Daladala is never too full!

Since only a few Zanzibari have a motorcycle, let alone a car, the locals are dependent on the local bus – Daladala.

On the roofs of the truck-like vehicles, they transport everything from sacks of flour to bicycles. It’s also turbulent inside – there are banana plants, potato bags and canisters in the passageway while the driver often waits until all the seats are occupied. A bus is almost never considered to be too full. No matter how many people and sometimes chickens are in the Daladala, others who still want to join can squeeze in.

When I got onto the Daladala with my new girlfriend on a Saturday, everyone cheered and the driver played loud music. As soon as we set off, half of the passengers started dancing and made the bus shake. Among them, a group of teachers who were supposed to be working, but took the day off with the excuse to refresh our mind. They were a wild bunch who asked to be taking selfies with us afterwards. What a zest for life!

While I’m in the middle of the Zanzibari, the wind blowing through my hair and the sun setting outside, I can’t help but feel grateful for this unforgettable experience I had on Zanzibar!

Pole Pole

When I came across the most important words in Swahili in my travel guide, Pole Pole (slow or easy easy) was listed among the top 5, which at first seemed random, but the I got it the day I arrived!

In Zanzibar, everything is very relaxed. Compared to hectic Germany, stress seems out of place in the life on the Tanzanian island. That also makes Zanzibar the perfect place to relax. You might get annoyed by long waiting times in the beginning, but I am sure you will soon notice how good it feels to slow down and understand the true meaning of sayings such as strength lies in calmness. My Zanzibar travel guide hits the nerve: Everything works fine – just differently.

Here you can find all information about Annika’s project.

We are sure that Annika is dreaming of these sunsets sometimes!

Remote Internship Microfinances in Tanzania

How can you spend your time at home most efficiently during the Corona pandemic? Nicolas from Germany completed a Remote Internship in a Tanzanian microfinance organization. Read about Nicolas’ experience as a remote intern, in times when international travel is not easily possible.

Nicolas from Germany completed his remote internship at WEECE, a microfinance organization in Tanzania. The organization supports so-called “Village Community Banks” (Vicobas). These are an important instrument of development work, as they enable people who do not have access to conventional bank accounts and funds to finance their agricultural, small business and education projects for their children.

“The internship was a total success for me. First of all, I was able to improve my English language skills. I attended Skype meetings three times a week and worked with various members of the organization on topics related to microfinances (introduction to the country of Tanzania, profile of the organization, goals, challenges of the organization WEECE etc.).

I learned about the principle of microfinances and the importance of VICOBA organisations. We held small discussions and exchanged experiences at all of the meetings.

Due to the current situation (Corona), I was unfortunately not able to intern on-site and take on larger tasks. However, with the knowledge I acquired during my internship, I think I can effectively take on tasks on site in the future. Therefore, I plan to do an internship in Tanzania as soon as possible, once the current situation has improved. ”

Nicolas from Germany

Here you can find all information about Nicolas’ internship. Register now and use your time at home effectively!

Medical Elective Abroad on Zanzibar Island, Tanzania

Pia from Germany completed part of her medical elective at the Mnazi Mmoja Hospital in Zanzibar. Here she reports on cultural differences in medicine, a typical daily routine in the hospital and how she spent her free time in Zanzibar.

Pia wanted to do her medical elective abroad in order to gain practical experience in medicine and to develop as a person.

Which internship did you do abroad and where?

I completed part of my mandatory elective at the Mnazi Mmoja Hospital in Zanzibar, Tanzania. I went to Zanzibar together with a lovely colleague of mine whom I met in med school. I worked in the hospital for fifteen days and completed the remaining one and a half months of my elective in German hospitals. At German medical universities, we have to complete electives in medical outpatient facilities, which I chose to completed in Germany as well. At the Mnazi Mmoja Hospital in Zanzibar I spent most of my elective at the pediatric ward but I also got to observe the work in the maternity ward every now and then.

During which semester did you do your medical elective abroad?

I did my medical elective during the term break of my 6th semester.

Please describe why you decided to do a medical internship / elective abroad.

I decided to do part of my mandatory elective abroad for many reasons: On the one hand, my friends in med school who had already done a medical elective abroad totally recommended this experience to me not only to develop my skills from a medical but also from a personal point of view. Some of these friends had completed their elective in Zanzibar and were absolutely thrilled about the experience. I’ve always wanted to get to know the medical system in another country and Africa was particularly interesting for me. I wanted to learn about the different health systems worldwide and be able to draw a comparison between Germany and a (developing) country. Another aspect that encouraged me to do my elective abroad was that I wanted to learn to be more independent and to improve my medical communication skills in English. And last but not least I was hoping to meet new people and to make international friends.

How did you come across World Unite!?

I found World Unite! on the internet. Their informative website spoke to me and after I had sent my inquiry, I quickly got a response from a team member who answered all my questions. I liked the fact that I could reach my World Unite! contact on WhatsApp and never had to wait long for a reply. Two friends of mine had completed their electives in Zanzibar through World Unite! before and I knew the organization was trustful and that everything had worked out well for them. Furthermore, I did not find many agencies offering electives in Zanzibar and I definitely wanted to go there, so the decision was easy to make!

Which departments of the hospital did you work in? Did you stay in one department the whole time or rotate through multiple departments and why?


I chose not to rotate through different departments and spent my entire elective in the pediatric department. However, the hospital staff encouraged me to visit the maternity ward and the delivery room from time to time to get even more exposure. I’ve also heard of other medical and nursing students or who rotated through various departments during their stay. However, in my opinion this does only make sense for a longer stay. For me, the best way to spend my 15 elective days was to stay in one department. The pediatric ward at Mnazi Moja Hospital has two floors which means that you can still somehow rotate from floor to floor internally. For example, the children in the monitoring room and premature babies were downstairs. The children with malnutrition and diarrhea were on the 2nd floor. I was able to see and experience a broad range of diseases and illnesses. Every day, there was an open consultation hour for children with acute diseases where a different specialist was present every day. Overall, I can really recommend pediatrics for an elective abroad!

Describe a typical day at the hospital, including your work days, working hours and your tasks.

Working in Zanzibar is more relaxed than in European countries. The doctors are very flexible about the working hours and won’t tell you how much time you need to spend at the hospital. It’s not a problem if you would like to leave earlier on some days, but it’s also totally possible to stay for the entire day, to observe the routines of the health care staff and also to carry out some tasks independently.

The day starts in the morning with an early meeting with the pediatricians. I was welcome to join the meeting and to actively involve. After the meeting, they would go back to the ward and start their morning patient visits. I usually accompanied the doctors to all rooms where they would take a close look at each child and do examinations, if needed. Blood sampling and venous catheters are usually done by the nurses. The doctors then make a diagnosis and suggest how to continue the therapy. The doctors usually take a lot of time for each child and the parents. I was lucky to have a great supervising doctor who was always happy to answer and translate all questions. Most patients only understand Swahili and no English, which made it difficult for me to get a detailed medical history from them on my own. Med schools in Tanzania teach in English and local students therefore speak very good English.

Mostly, the morning visits ended between eleven and twelve and depending on how you felt, you could either spend the rest of the day at the beach or stay at the hospital a little longer and see if you were needed for more tasks. I have rarely stayed longer than noon, since there are fewer medical activities in the afternoon.

What did you learn during your elective abroad?

I learned a lot from my medical elective. It was less of technical knowledge for my studies, but a lot of knowledge for my future life that I gained. As I had hoped, I made many new friends and also improved my English skills a lot. Honestly, I was quite proud of myself being able to manage my elective and everything related to it on my own and in a foreign country.  African culture and life in an African country have made me appreciate a lot of things here in Germany, for instance not to take seemingly normal things for granted.

What cultural differences have you observed between the medical systems / treatments / doctor-patient relationships etc. in your host country and your home country?

It was very exciting to see other diseases compared to Germany. For example, there were several children with sickle cell anemia in the pediatric ward, a disease which we rarely have in Germany. Another common disease for children in Zanzibar is malnutrition, whereas in Germany we struggle with obesity and high blood pressure. I also learned how different our medical resources, diagnostic and therapeutic options in Germany are compared to Zanzibar.

If you break your leg in Germany you might be able to play soccer and do sports only a few weeks after. Locals in Africa say that they don’t dare to play football because if they break their leg they may never be able to walk again. On the one hand because the standard in the local hospitals is very different and on the other hand many cannot afford the therapy.

How did you spend your free time in Zanzibar?

There are endless opportunities for leisure activities only in Stone Town/Zanzibar Town. Locals will be happy to give you recommendations, so I’d like to encourage you to speak to people and to mingle with the local community. Always remember to bargain if you want to shop on local markets. If you want to travel on the island, my recommendation is not to book the standard tours for tourists. Zanzibar Town has a Dala Dala (public mini bus) connection to almost everywhere on the island. From here you can do a spice tour, visit the Jozani Forest or take a boat to Prison Island. I highly recommend the night market and the numerous bars in Stone Town where you can even sing Karaoke. Once per week, World Unite! arranged a joint event for all volunteers and interns from their different projects, e.g. a meet-up for coffee in the afternoon or a pizza dinner. It’s not mandatory to join, but great fun! I highly recommend you to plan in some extra time after your placement and to travel the island. I would totally do my elective on Zanzibar again at any time and recommend it to anyone!

Visit us on our website to read more about Pia’s placement on Zanzibar and how you can apply!

English course on the paradise island of Zanzibar

Taking an English course in Zanzibar – is that even possible ?! Certainly! Tilmann from Germany took a 30 hour English course on this island paradise and enjoyed his stay to the fullest. Here he tells you about his experiences.

The tropical island of Zanzibar has a lot to offer. With World Unite! you can even learn English here!

Tilmann from Germany about his stay:

The support from Abdi, my World Unite! Coordinator in Zanzibar, was excellent. He picked me up at the taxi stand, took me to my host family, took me on a tour through Stonetown, and then introduced me to my language teacher.

I really appreciated the SIM card that I got from Abdi right at the beginning that allowed me to use the internet and to make calls. Throughout may stay Abdi was always available and – if we happened to meet in Stonetown – ready to talk. I felt very well looked after by him.

Sarah, my language teacher, totally adjusted her teaching to my needs. She found out about abou my strenghts and weaknesses in English very quickly and took it from there. Sarah is a very pleasant person, is incredibly flexible in terms of times, meeting points and learning content. And most importantly, the lessons with her are so much fun, so it was never just studying vocabulary and grammar. In addition, she has an incredibly extensive knowledge of the island, the history of Tanzania and Zanzibar and also about the current political events there. So the 30 hours with her were much more than “just” learning English. I can only say thank you again and warmly recommend her as a language teacher.

I had my accommodation with Mama Munna in Stone Town. An incredibly nice family and very interesting woman. The food was simple, but absolutely top notch. The insights into family life were unique and unforgettable for me. The room I stayed in was very simple. Ultimately, however, completely sufficient, because in the end you only sleep there. If you are looking for Western European comfort, you should better go to a hotel, but then miss a very exciting and above all unforgettable experience of living with a local family.

Last but not least, I want to thank World Unite! for the very good care before and during my stay. The arrangements with you worked perfectly and the instructions and information on the homepage are complete and accurate. At no time did I feel that there was a lack of care or information. Thank you very much for the great work. I will recommend World Unite! to anyone who’s looking for a learning experience abroad.

Sincerely yours,

Tilman


Here you can find out how to register for an English course in Zanzibar.

Volunteer at the Wildlife Reserve in South Africa

Can you imagine volunteering inmidst of the fascinating nature of a South African National Park? Manuela from Germany
set out on an adventure into the wild!

Can you imagine to live inmidst of the stunning nature of a South African National Park? To join the only exclusively female anti-poaching unit wordwide to protect the animals in the park? Or to monitor the fascinating animal and plant life of South Africa? Manuela from Germany did exactly that! Read about her experience volunteering in a South African National Park below.

The Balule Camp is a wildlife reserve which is part of the Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa. It is known for its abundance of wildlife, including the “Big Five” (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo). Tourist safaris are organized within the wildlife reserve, but it is largely used for research work and so you will find many doctoral and master students there as well.

The projects’ main tasks are connected to collecting data for their research. During my time, these included looking for snares, finding rhino clues in the reserve and attaching cameras to marula trees.
What I liked best was the simplicity of the camp and the closeness to nature – I would return there anytime!

I really enjoyed my time there and I am still missing the camp today.

Best regards,

Manuela from Germany

Join us at the Balule Camp in the Greater Kruger National Park and apply now!

Love the Mother Nature Conservation Camp in Zanzibar!

Isabel from Germany totally fell in love with our Mother Nature Camp in Zanzibar! We can totally relate! Setting out on an adventure in the tropical rainforest and helping to conserve the local nature and the environment on Zanzibar at the same time, is something truely amazing to do! You can read Isabel’s review here.

Set out on a travel adventure to the tropical rainforest of Zanzibar!

Isabel from Germany:

“I really liked the atmosphere at the Mother Nature Conservation Camp and that you build your own little community of local team members and foreign volunteers there. During the day you work, in the evenings you talk, play cards or other games, or stay in your tent and have some time for yourself.

The staff was extremely helpful. They even help you organizing tours, trips and excursions for your leisure time. The food in the camp is quite good.

I like that you also work together with locals and get in close touch with the local community. Everybody in the camp cares about the environment, nature, wildlife, children and the neighborhood. It’s interesting, that each day is a little different, depending on the volunteering activities that you’d like to involve in. It helps when you stay flexible, open minded and watch World Unite!’s preparation videos to get a good feeling of what to expect.

I would totally volunteer at the Camp again! 🙂

Isabel, from Germany

As a Volunteer in India During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Carin and other volunteers distributing food donations to families in India whose income is affected by the Corona pandemic

Be part of Sambhali Trust: We act and make a difference! Carin from Germany actively decided to continue her volunteer work in India during the Covid 19 pandemic. In our blog she speaks about the effects of the pandemic on the lives of people in India and why her work as a volunteer is particularly needed now.

It is late in the evening and I am sitting in our volunteer home, the Dev Bagh Ressort, in the middle of the Indian desert Thar in Rajasthan (approx. 1.5 hours by car from Jodhpur), under the beautiful Indian sky and under thousands of shiny stars. My heart is still pounding and there’s an almost mysthical atmosphere all around the place, with the full moon seeming within the reach of my hands.

We have just returned from our first basic-food-distribution. Our minds are still full of these experiences, but we can’t yet talk about them because this ride through desert has touched us so deeply.

We just visited the poorest families of Rajasthan in their little huts. Huts with only a fire pit and some firewood. In some there might be a couple of blankets hanging on the walls, which will be spread out on the floor at night to sleep on. When I entered one of these huts, my hair accidentally touched a toothbrush neatly tucked into the thatched roof, waiting for its owner to use it in the evening.

Some families might have a few goats which can give milk to the children in the mornings or a dog that guards the night sleep. The heat is everywhere and the storms blow the sand over your body, face and eyes.

Here in rural Rajasthan, the COVID-19 pandemic immediately had an existential impact:
The quarry was closed for weeks due to the lockdown. Many fathers who provide for their families lost their jobs and there are no such things as unemployment aid or short-time work. The children cannot longer help to generate income, so their low earnings are also lost. Families were deprived of their livelihood overnight.


Sambhali Trust quickly recognized this critical situation in the Setrawa desert region and sat down with the local officials. The poorest families were identified by field workers and a mission to provide basic-food-packages was started. A team of foreign and Indian volunteers acquires flour, lentils, sugar, salt, tea and spices every day and packs them in 14-day rations. A food-package costs around 15 € and provides for a family of 5-6 people with the most important basic food for half a month.

Let’s look back a couple of weeks ago – our live in India before Covid-19:

Before Covid-19: Carin taught English at local schools in a playful and interactive way

In the middle of January I traveled to India / Rajasthan to support underprivileged children and women as a volunteer. Sambhali Trust welcomed us like a family. Sambhali Trust’s projects in rural Rajasthan are called “SETU” and consist of several missions which we want to build up.

In the morning we taught English in government schools – in a completely different way than the Indian school system usually does it. We tried to spread the joy of learning with songs, games, learning videos and workshops every day. We would also meet our students on the way to school or in the afternoons during the sunset walk to the dunes. Here, too, we would play “English” and explore the environment of the Thar desert together.

It’s touching to see that most people here can only live a very simple live or even live in poverty. I didn’t picture it like that before coming to India. The children are pure bliss: lovely, eager to learn and full of laughter and joy.

In the late afternoons we always offered additional English lessons for all children and teenagers in the area at our volunteer home Dev Bagh. The students walked several kilometers to get to our place right after school. In groups divided according to age, we practiced English dialogues, played educational games or watched motivational movies (e.g. “I am Kalaam”, Nelson Mandela) and discussed them in English.

During the golden hour, our field was always transformed into a sport and activity community-ground. We played cricket, volleyball, football, organized races and learned Indian dances with the boys and girls.

With the lockdown, all of this could no longer take place and the Sambhali Trust projects had to be shut down. For us volunteers, one question had to be answered: How do we personally want to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic?

Why I decided to stay in India during the Corona pandemic

One thing is for sure: during a crisis, you need a family that stands beside you – a family were people care for one another and support each other. Therefore, many European families have recommended the volunteers to travel back home. However, a team of more than ten of us decided to continue supporting the Sambhali Trust missions on site.

Govind Singh Rathore and his (extended) family treated us volunteers as if we were part of the family right from the beginning. With the beginning of Covid-19, we all moved into self-isolation at the Dev Bagh Resort in the Thar Desert where our community was even strengthened.

We are provided with the latest information at all times, we play and laugh together, we have conversations in up to five languages, we cook together and share the housework, we exercise together and enjoy nature – and we fight together against COVID-19-Pandemic.
Side by side, from heart to heart.

Hygiene and safety measures for us and others

We take good care of ourselves and stick to the common hygiene and safety measures: keeping physical distance to others, wearing a mask, washing and disinfecting hands, no coughing or sneezing at each other.

In addition to the basic-food-distribution for 251 families, Sambhali Trust also provides the residents with information about preventive health care and has e.g. soaps distributed to 810 families. The national press reports intensively on our projects.

We have now provided the families with the food-packages for the third time; we are grateful for international support and that we can help personally on site. Every day after lunch, we pack the food-packages together in the resort and send out our daily changing team with good blessings.
At sunset we are waiting for the returners, receive them with disinfectant (insider joke: our joy, our fun cannot be taken away through COVID-19) and spicy masala chai and hear, while sitting in the warm sand, the reports about the gratitude and open hearts of the locals in our area – the friends, families and relatives of our laughing students.

I am grateful to be part of Sambhali Trust: We act and make a difference! Fighting against COVID-19-Pandemic globally – connecting internationally!

Carin from Germany, in India

Here you can read all about Carin’s volunteer organisation.

Promoting a Reading Culture in Nicaragua

Lina felt very comfortable during her time in Nicaragua. In her host family and in her volunteer project she was warmly welcomed.

Lina from Germany has decided to volunteer in the picturesque city of Léon in Nicaragua. Today she talks about her tasks and why she would like to come back to Nicaragua soon again!

Even though my stay unfortunately ended much earlier than I had planned due to the current circumstances caused by the corona virus, the three months that I spent in Nicaragua were a great time. Of course, when I arrived I was very nervous both in the host family and in the project, but I was warmly welcomed everywhere and felt very involved after just a few weeks.

Lina volunteered in the “Minibiblioteca”. This project is committed to making children and adults want to read, and offers pre-school tuition and afternoon and free time programs for children whose parents work full time.

One of my tasks was to help out at the Montessori preschool in the mornings, which is attended by 3 to 5 year old children. The children and I got on very well and I learned at least as much as they did in the 3 months I was there.

I will never forget this great experience and will try to come back to Nicaragua soon.

Best regards,

Lina from Germany

Here you can find all information about Lina’s volunteer project.