We have hundreds and hundred of young volunteers embarking on life changing experiences with us every year. But we also have the pleasure to have Mothers join our volunteer trips too!
Today we wanted to celebrate the Mums of our volunteering community but also give some insight to the Mums who are looking to volunteer overseas... Have a read of what 3 Mothers who volunteered with us said about their experience! We hit them with 3 questions:
1. What did you do prior/during the trip to help you cope being away from your kids?
2. Do you think being a mother impacted you differently on the program? Do you think it made the experience different for you?
3. What was your favourite part of the project?
1. To cope with being away from my four school aged kids, I had to know that my absence wasn't going to negatively impact them while I was away. So, for me, carefully choosing a time of year that they were in a good routine at school and without major events on was important and made it easier for those taking care of them while I was away.
2. Being a mother makes you look at the world from a different perspective. Having life experience allowed me to have a deeper appreciation and understanding of the program than if I'd had this experience in my early 20's.
3. My favourite part of the project... That's a tough question! It was both a privilege and an honour to be involved in the education of the children knowing that we have made a positive difference to their lives by empowering them with knowledge to make better choices for their future. As for a specific part of the experience, I cannot be more grateful for the experience of travelling through some of the hospitals and seeing how the Cambodian healthcare systems differs from our own in Australia. That experience and knowledge is something I take forward as a huge benefit for my nursing career, but I also bought home a far greater appreciation of how blessed we are to live in Australia.
1. I prepared cooked meals for my family as this made me feel like a better mum, like l fed my kids while l was l away. Eased my guilt. I Face Timed my kids every day, sometimes twice a day.
2. Being on the trip did impact me differently. When my kids were having a bad day at home, l wanted to get on a plane and go home. I almost did that once. I missed cooking for my family (being a mum) and felt a burning need to cook for the team (but controlled myself). I don’t feel that my interaction with the clients differed.
3. Teaching first aid to the kids in schools.
1. To help prepare my children, and myself, for this almost month-long separation we spent a lot of time together before hand connecting, setting up video chatting on devices and held long discussions about what we each would do when we missed each other. I left some small activities for when I was gone and I was blessed to have friends who extended their love to my family by inviting them to dinner or dropping treats around while I was away. As this was my first time away from my family and overseas, this was a massive brave adventure to undertake this experience. I was so grateful for modern technology that allowed me to connect each morning with my family as they started their day back home in Australia. Preparation was key to having the courage to leave them. I missed them every single moment and was so thankful to have family who encouraged me to fulfil my dreams.
2. I feel being a Mum impacted my experience greatly, not only with the children but in the group, I shared this experience with. My motivation was purely to give service and experience another culture while helping others. Mother's do that best I think serving others every single day. But I learnt so much from the other people I worked alongside, sharing in their passion and experiences. I believe I was challenged in many areas and I learnt so much about myself, especially how strong I am to have undertaken this experience alone and without support around me.
I believe being a Mum gave me a slightly individually tailored experience, and this also really pushed me out of my comfort zone as I soaked in the different cultural aspects of Cambodia. I went with an open mind to have many new experiences and to happily draw on my maternal side to connect with the children. Developing a sense of fulfilment, a deeper purpose in my life and gratitude I had not yet experienced was really amazing. I know I came home a changed person and I look forward to doing this again one day with my family.
3. My favourite part of the program was the children and the people. Their hearts and smiles were so big and they willingly shared so much of their lives with us. I think about them so often in my daily life and wish I could have done more for them. I am so thankful to have had skills and talents that I could use to guide me in how we could teach conversational English and extent their knowledge. The humble gratitude of the people overwhelmed me so many times, the excitement in their eyes and laughter was just golden. I felt blessed to be in their presence and feel of their happiness.
WOW! What 3 amazing women we were lucky to have on 3 of our different programs! From personal experience, getting yourself ready to travel can be challenging... But to prepare yourself and get your family ready for the experience is a huge process! We see that this is difficult and we want to support you through all the challenges that may occur before or during your trip with us.
Thank you Amanda, Lista and Kathy for sharing your coping mechanisms and opening up about the challenges and amazing experiences you had. Being a young volunteer myself it was inspiring to read how you each prepared yourselves and your families, embarking on a journey to help change the lives of others.
Thanks to you and all the mothers who have volunteered with us and those yet to join! Happy Mother's Day!