If you think you're too old to volunteer abroad then this story about Polly Bailey, a 68 year old retired teacher, will make you think again! Polly embarked on a life changing experience when she began her journey to Livingstone, Zambia, to volunteer on a teaching project with African Impact. During her 3 months in Zambia she was able to draw upon her teaching skills and knowledge to educate the children and adults in the local community. She loved her experience so much she has already been back twice, still touching the lives of the people she helps wherever she goes!
When Polly arrived in Zambia she was overwhelmed by the kind and caring nature of the locals. “It was a humbling experience” she says, because the locals had so little and yet they were so welcoming and high-spirited. The children at the local school, which she taught at from 8am to 12 noon, were also polite and eager to learn, showing up to school everyday even although the Zambian teachers sometimes did not attend. Polly says that this behaviour was understandable because many Zambian teachers are not qualified, not trained and not paid. In some schools there are even as many as 50 students per teacher so volunteer assistance is absolutely vital to give pupils the one-to-one attention which might be necessary to see them develop further. This one-to-one attention alos allows our volunteers to build relationships with their students and understand their individual needs.
In the afternoons Polly then volunteered at an adults' literacy class, making a real impact with the older members of this spirited community. She also visited an Old People's Home in Livingstone where she was brought to tears by the conditions the elderly people had to live in. Like Polly, volunteers may be helping with these two afternoon projects, or they may be volunteering at art clubs, study groups, farming initiatives, or community building/painting/refurbishing projects at local schools and clinics.
Even at 68 Polly enjoyed the same weekend activities as our younger volunteers and went swimming, camping on safari in Botswana, visiting local bars and museums, and visiting the majestic Victoria Falls. With neighbouring countries like Nambia and Zimbabwe only a short distance away other exciting excursions can also be organised so volunteers can see more of Africa! Boat cruises on the Zambezi river, island retreats and helicopter rides are popular activities, as well as adrenaline pumping activities like bungee jumping and white water rafting!
So whether you're 18 or 68 volunteering abroad has something for everyone and it truly is a wonderful experience which helps you to change lives, even your own!
To check out more teaching and community projects in Zambia please click here.