The best thing I've ever done

I can honestly say that volunteering in Santa Tecla, El Salvador with Joaquin is the best thing I have ever done. From the minute I arrived in El Salvador, Joaquin made me feel right at home. He was so grateful for me being there, he did everything he could to ensure my stay was as comfortable as it could be, and he was just a great friendly guy. He made sure I saw all of the best tourist spots in El Salvador while I was there, from hiking up volcanos, zip lining, and a Guatemala road trip. He even organized a beach party for my birthday, fireworks and a band included! More importantly, you could see the passion Joaquin had for what he was doing. He was touching the lives of the Santa Tecla girls in a big way without any expectations or agenda. You could see how much he cared about the girls, their education and their future, but also making the girls feel special. Helping Joaquin get ready for the girls’ graduation, I saw how hard he worked to make sure every detail was perfect for the girls. He really cares. And the girls are special. Never before have I seen girls who were more grateful, kinder and giving, and more eager to learn. I received more little homemade gifts and heartwarming hugs than ever before.

Some of my favourite memories were playing basketball with these girls, and being on the brink of tears over heartwarming graduation speeches – even though I could barely understand them! But the hard truth about the girls is that they are normally pulled out of school after grade 9 to work full time. Up until grade 9 graduation, they only go to school for half a day, the other half they would work with their parents who are having it tough. So the short time they have is critical for their future. Just walking the streets of El Salvador you can feel the country’s incredible charm. The smiles and laughter on the locals’ faces, and their endless generosity. But you also see cute trays filled with dozens of people, people carrying heavy containers long distances, people selling things anywhere they can, and people who are always more than grateful to receive even leftover food from your meal. And the magic of the trip doesn’t end when you go home. I regularly use Google Translate to decode beautiful letters or message on Facebook from the girls sending to me through Joaquin. Even basketball, which I played with the girls as a way of breaking the ice and putting smiles on their faces, in the end, it became much more. After I left, the girls decided to start up a team. And the biggest honour of my life was when Joaquin and the PE teacher decided to call the team “The DJs”. No act or gesture could ever match this one. So why volunteer with Teaching You? If you’re anything like me, you’ve been incredibly lucky with your life and you’ll be ready to give back. By volunteering with Teaching You, you’ll give your all and help the community in a big way, but you’ll still get more out of it than you give. You’ll have an awesome adventure, loads of fun, you’ll see their beautiful country, you’ll experience their heartwarming culture, and you’ll learn more about yourself. If you’re even considering it – say yes – you won’t regret it!