At a staff conference in 2019, the opportunity to volunteer in the Philippines was announced. After a global pandemic, which included two cancelled trips and travel bans, the time finally arrived for the four Calico staff to take on their volunteering adventure after working hard to raise funds for their trip.
With the location now changed to Ubud in Bali, Amber Howarth, Samantha Warren, Maggie Kelly and Dawn Cardwell started their three weeks of volunteering on 7th November in villages around Ubud. Communities here can live in extreme poverty and there is a lack of access to clean water, electricity and education.
Amber and Samantha both worked on a construction and renovation project to build a much-needed new kindergarten for children in local villages outside Ubud. Both learnt new skills such as plastering walls to support these initiatives which needed hands-on help from volunteers to build new facilities to continue vital work to support the local community.
Dawn and Maggie worked on the kindergarten project by assisting with early childhood education and teaching the students English skills, albeit with a Lancashire accent. Maggie and Dawn were helping children whose parents couldn’t afford to send them to nursery.
The team shared the Calico t-shirts they had taken along with them with their co-volunteers of who came from all around the world.
Whilst there was much joy on the trip, it was also met with challenges. The team’s fear of critters was tested with beetles “the size of a small bird” greeting them on the way to breakfast. There was also the weather, with mornings being very hot and humidity at around 94% each day. The team were not met with the sunshine they expected and instead with daily storms which the team described as “spectacular” with thunder and lightning like they had never seen before.
The team loved every minute of their trip and were grateful to have such an experience and learn about Balinese culture.
Samantha Warren; ‘The experience was humbling, how Balinese people live their lives and their karma approach, it is something I take on board each and every minute of the day.’
Dawn Cardwell; ‘It made me realise it is not about what you have but who you have. The sense of community is so important in the villages we visited. Each member of the community has a part to play and does this without a second thought. Everyone contributes in their own way.’
Amber Howarth; ‘The whole experience completely surpassed my expectations, the community spirit, kindness towards each other and the way they are so grateful for everything was humbling. My pledge is to now be ‘more Bali’.
Maggie Kelly; ‘The experience exceeded all my expectations. How Balinese people support each other and work together as a community is humbling. I loved the ethos of how they believe in karma and how it could impact the future, for this reason they always try to do the right thing, nothing is taken for granted.’