Here at Projects Abroad we love to share the stories of our volunteers, and when we hear about families volunteering, they always stand out. Volunteering with your family abroad has grown in popularity and we’re not surprised as to why. It opens a whole world of experiences for both parents and their children. Families can explore new countries, learn about different cultures and understand the importance of helping others. Together, they can find out what they’re capable of while working with staff and volunteers of all ages from around the world.
Family volunteering is not only for parents and their kids. It can also be an incredible experience for grandparents, cousins and siblings alike.
Swiss volunteer, Romana (71) is the perfect example. She just finished her ninth (yes, you read that right!) volunteer project with us. This was also the second volunteer project she completed with her granddaughter, Laurane (20). We wanted to hear all about their experience so we met up with them in Mexico before they headed home.
Inspiring the next generation: volunteering with her granddaughter
This inspiration reached Laurane, her 20-year-old granddaughter. After hearing about her grandmother's experience, they decided to volunteer together in Fiji in 2016.
“I [started with a] two week trip with other teenagers on a Childcare & Community High School Special. We did building in a school, painted the walls and played with the children,” explains Laurane, “Then I joined my grandma on the Nutrition Project, where I measured and weighed people. They were simple tasks, but I worked all the time. I like to be like Romana; busy!”
Even though Laurana started on a High School Special, she decided to live with her grandmother at a host family instead of with the other teenage volunteers. “I wanted to volunteer with [my grandmother], talk to her and stay in the same house. She inspired me, so I wanted to share this experience with her.” Both Laurane and Romana laugh when remembering this. “Sometimes it was hard because she was like my mother. We had fights sometimes but we did get closer”, Laurane added.
In 2019, Romana and Laurane joined us for their second volunteer project together; our Childcare Project in Mexico. Once more, they did a great job: “In Mexico, I felt more responsible because we were in charge of organising everything for the children: the daily programme, the daily activities, the games… I feel I shared more with the children here,” explains Laurane.
Looking forward towards a better future
Although this will be Romana’s last project with us, we’re happy to say that she’ll be continuing her volunteer spirit.
“I’m going to Lesotho to work as a nurse. I worked there for two years previously alongside a doctor friend. He has since passed away and I’d like to help his wife continue his work. I don’t know how long I’ll be there though. I'll probably work a few weeks in Lesotho, then travel back and forth between Switzerland and Lesotho over the next 1-2 years. We’ll see.”
Although Romana won’t be joining us again, she and Laurane always encourage others to take the plunge into the world of volunteering abroad. Laurane: “Just do it! But before doing it, please remember: these are not holidays. It’s work and is a great experience. If you want to study medicine or to take care of children or animals… there’s something for everyone! It’s a very good idea. Just do it!”