Amy Salmons volunteers for the BMT Giveback project
BMT volunteers for the BMT Giveback project ‘Bridge of Hope’, spent a week working on social projects in a rural Indonesian community. These projects provide additional support to the communities connected by the new bridge. Amy Salmons, one of the volunteers for the project, tells us about her experience.
Why did you decide to volunteer for this project?
I really wanted the chance to go and do something that would make a difference to other people’s lives. I’d never done any volunteering on this scale and it was such an amazing rare opportunity I couldn’t not apply and I’m so grateful I got to go.
How did you prepare for the trip?
By reading any information emails that we were sent, all of the details on our company intranet, NAVIGATOR and lots of google mapping the locations. I researched the local partner (Relawan Kampung) and the work that had taken place so far and generally just tried to gain as much knowledge as I could in the two weeks I had to prepare prior to travelling. I got all of my vaccinations, checked visa recommendations and went shopping for things to take for the children and an all-important mosquito net!
Can you tell us what activities you took part in during the week?
I was part of the Education team, improving the preschool facility. The main activity I took part in during the week was painting the inside and outside of the school. This included painting the tree on the back wall of the classroom and around the exterior of the room. Everyone got involved including the school teachers and locals who used their hands to create the leaves of the tree and the children of the school who will eventually add their hands to it too.
The volunteers were split into two groups working on an Education program and on a Health program – can you tell us about this?
The Education program team spent the week improving the preschool facility in Desa Sukaresmi. We decorated both the inside and outside of the school and also constructed a playground complete with a caterpillar sand pit for the children.
The Health team visited a few different schools during the week conducting things like eye tests, height and weight tests and lessons on hygiene (teeth brushing, hand washing) with the children.
What were the greatest challenges during the week?
The greatest challenge of the week was probably communication, we couldn’t communicate with the locals without our translators and we would have been so stuck without them; they were brilliant.
What were the highlights of the week?
Finishing the school and seeing the reactions of the locals, children and organisers was absolutely the highlight of the week. There were so many tears from everyone and you could tell how much appreciation they had for what we had done; it was a really great feeling. After all of the work I have to say the other highlight of the week was swimming in the sea at the Eco Resort (Pulau Penucang) on the last morning. Bliss!
How did the team work together?
Amazingly well, we gelled together straight away and by the end of the week we were all incredibly close. Everyone on the trip was very likeminded. We all worked really well together and have all stayed in touch since the trip.
How did the locals react to the volunteers?
They were really welcoming and friendly and couldn’t wait to help, they got stuck in with painting and the construction of the sand pit in the playground to the point where the sandpit volunteer team were actually made redundant, whilst the construction took place and they did an amazing job!
What was involved in the ‘opening of the bridge’
There was an opening ceremony attended by all of the BMT volunteers, the locals, children and Peter French and then we all got to cross the bridge together for the first time which was amazing (and terrifying at the same time). Once we’d crossed the bridge we took Peter to see the school which the Education Programme team had worked on, Peter, Afta (BMT Indonesia organiser) and Arif (the man responsible for organising the build of 100 bridges in Indonesia, to connect villages) got to add their handprints to the tree. We then all said goodbye to the locals and children of the village (more tears!!). We also went to the main school which the Health team had been to during the week and we got to present all 250 children with a goodie bag containing note pads, pencils and other stationery for school which we had brought and prepared in the hotel when we had first arrived in Indonesia.
How do you think this experience has changed you personally?
I think the experience changed my appreciation for everything that I have, I got to see just how contrasting life can be and it made me really thankful.
Would you do the experience again?
1,000% and I would recommend it to anyone thinking about volunteering for future BMT Giveback projects.
For more information and to watch a few videos on the week the volunteers spent in Indonesia, please click here.