An enriching volunteer trip

volunteer panama

My name Monica and I’m from Barcelona, here share some of my volunteer experience with children with special abilities. I decided to do this volunteering in another country, to live a different experience. What I didn’t know was the impact 3 weeks there would have on my life.

I have always traveled in the tourist style

With very expensive guides, excursions to the most typical places, hotels in the center of each city and other comforts and topics of tourist travelers. I did not know any other way to travel nor did I think that there would be. However, whenever I returned from my trips I had the same feeling; a bittersweet feeling of happiness for what is known but a strange emptiness for what I had to know.   

So after my last trip in summer 2016, I promised myself that my next experience abroad was going to be focused on immersing myself in local life and interacting with the locals, making sure I get to know my better destination and become aware of other realities. 

I wanted to be a deep traveler and I also wanted to help children, who have always been my weakness. After thinking about it, I thought that a volunteer fit into this type of trip, so I contacted Adventure Volunteer, who worked with with children special needs.

Planning my volunteer experience

Planning the trip took me several weeks. I wanted to be sure that I had everything I needed to help me and to be able to live in a country with very different conditions than what I was used to. I informed myself and packed what I thought was necessary to survive 3 weeks of Panamanian adventure. 

  • Chame, the town where I volunteer, is very nice, simple and calm. The neighbors are charming and greet you with a smile every time they come across you, even if they saw you 5 minutes ago. 
  • At school, children go out of their way to steal 5 minutes from you to play with them. 
  • In the houses where I give private classes they are so happy to have me that they offer me everything they have so that I can stay a little while longer. 

The most unforgettable moments of my volunteering experience

It is simply unsurpassable on a human, spiritual and even material level, it is liberating. It is true that they are children with difficulties, especially at an academic level, but they are happy little people. They give you what little they have they offer you without batting an eye.

I have learned that there is no ego, no envy, no judgment. They help each other and they flatter each other constantly, always trying to make the other feel good.

I focus my classes, with games, dynamics, jokes and a lot of conversation. That allows them to feel comfortable with me and at the same time that I can know what emotional deficiency I must reinforce with them so that they recover their self-esteem.

I end with a phrase from my princess Dianeysi, 14 years old and with Down syndrome:

«I am happy when I am with you because I see that I can»

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