CONGRATULATIONS to all the Challengers on our first six Charity Challenges of 2011, biking from Guatemala to Honduras, the inaugural Nicaragua Volcano Challenge, Brazil's Chapada Diamantina Challenge , Guatemala's first Caribbean Kayak Challenge, Perú´s Cerani Pass and Ecuador's Volcano Challenge. Nicaragua's second volcano Challenge is set for 3rd-6th November and the third Guatemala Volcano Challenge dates are set for 27th November -2nd December.

Click on the following for our most recent official project reports for Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Perú and Brazil.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

From GVI Phoenix volunteer to project manager - Carla Haylor

GVI Phoenix is always on the look-out for potential project interns and managers. Carla Haylor, 30, from the UK and current project manager in Perú, started as a volunteer with GVI Phoenix in Guatemala in 2005.

"I’d always wanted to do some charity/volunteering work, but found myself straight after University sucked into getting a job and then building my career within the Logistics Industry. In 2005 I was lucky enough to be able to arrange a sabbatical from my job, and in the March as part of it, I headed to Guatemala with GVI to volunteer on the working with Indigenous children project in Santa Maria.

My Spanish was non-existent (seriously!) so I threw myself into the Spanish lessons and into trying to teach something to these kids! I’ll be honest in my first week I thought I’d made a mistake and should never have volunteered, it was tough, tiring and heart breaking seeing how these children lived.

I found that things started to click in my 2nd week and I was actually teaching the kids something!! By the end of my 6 weeks I was devastated to leave; I had loved my time, made some great friends and felt that whilst only for a short time, I had actually helped these kids and learned a great deal from them.

I then returned to England and back into my life and job, but I had the nagging feeling that I could be doing more, and I missed Latin America and those crazy kids something rotten.

Then in 2007 I’d had enough of wondering what if, and decided to follow my heart and jumped at the offer of a full-time job with GVI Phoenix. I was initially due to return to Guatemala to work on the projects there, however 2 weeks before I flew out Dom asked if I’d mind going to Peru instead as they needed someone to take over the project managers role. I thought why not, in for a penny in for a pound and all that!

I spent 7 months in 2007 managing the projects in Arequipa, Peru. It was tough and challenging, but if it wasn’t we really wouldn’t need to be there! It was also an eye opener for me, in terms of how people live, the differences between my childhood (which I now view as privileged) and the live’s of these children and the responsibilities they have on their small shoulders at such an early age.

How the kids are so loving, welcoming, eager to know you and learn from you, I saw the real difference that the Phoenix projects have in education, health, nutrition and self-esteem on the children.

It broke my heart to leave them in December but I’d already signed up to return in 2008 so it wasn’t adiós only hasta luego. In January 2008 I returned to where GVI Phoenix first found a place in my heart, Guatemala!

This time I was working on our San Andres Itzapa project, managing the vols and the daily running of the school. It was very different to Peru, for a start there were over 3 times as many children and no local teachers (pros & cons to both!), and there was a team of GVI staff to work with.

It was fantastic! The kids were great, I spent a lot of my time teaching multiple classes, so I really got to build up good relationships with a lot of the kids. I worked there for 5 months and was exhausted when I left but had loved every minute, and know that one day....I’ll be back!

GVI Phoenix have just started a new project in Nicaragua, so en route back to Peru I helped for 2 weeks there. Wow! Entirely different to both Peru & Guatemala!

With most of the children going to work at the local rubbish dump searching for cans to sell. Again heart-breaking and warming all at the same time, as the kids and their families are all so welcoming and eager to talk to you and learn.

The project there has fantastic scope for development and making fantastic improvements in the education and live’s of our children.

And now here I am again in Peru, it feels a little like coming home! I’ll be here for a year as I really want to spend a longer time on the project in order to aid continuity of our plans.

We now have more children in our schools due to the great reputation we’re building; we ensure consistent education for the children through well planned and executed classes carried out by the vols;

We provide the love and attention the children deserve and need in order to build their self-esteem; we now run a daily plan ancianos where we feed over 80 elder members of the community; we run health & nutrition schemes for the children and have many more plans in the pipeline! It’s fantastic here and I’m extremely proud to be part of it.

GVI Phoenix has allowed me an in depth experience of different cultures, to participate in a variety of different activities, make fantastic friends, and experience a sense of achievement and happiness I never thought possible, through seeing the difference we really do make in the live’s of our children."


Anonymous said...

We just want to say we are so proud of Carla. Although we miss her dreadfully and can't wait to see her at Christmas we are so happy for her - Russ and Sheila Haylor, her parents.

Davo said...

Go Carla! You are the best! Loved by the kids and volunteers alike.

Anonymous said...

I see your maths hasnt improved - Getting younger by the day! Shouldn't it read 35.....?

Who would have thought Carla Marie in a kitchen as well - Clearly the children have been giving you an education!

Have a Pisco Sour on us (would send you the money if we could of course)& see you soon

Hannah & James (Gist)

Nice dress BTW...

How does GVI Phoenix make a difference?

The following film was made in Guatemala, though the message is the same across all GVI Phoenix projects