© Guardian photo by Sally Cole
Brooke Currie from Fairview, P.E.I. shows some of the children and volunteers she worked with as a participant in the International Volunteers HQ program. She worked in a childcare centre for 12 weeks in Costa Rica.
Fairview woman transformed her passions into a rewarding volunteer work experience at a childcare centre in Costa Rica
Brooke Currie enjoys travelling.
She also enjoys children.
So when she heard that a volunteer opportunity was opening up at a childcare centre in Costa Rica, through International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ), she filled out an application form and sent it in.
The program provides volunteer travellers with quality, flexible, safe and affordable volunteering placements in developing countries.
For Currie, it felt like a perfect career step.
“I didn’t want to go to (university) right out of high school. I wanted to see the world. I’ve also always wanted to do volunteer work in a foreign country. So I went on a whim,’ says the Fairview resident who left for her 12-week work experience last September.
“It was the best experience of my life. The travelling was great. And the kids were so amazing. The little ones were loving and very happy to see us everyday. They’d run up and give us hugs.
“The older children didn’t like being told to what to do. So that was challenging. But overall, it was a rewarding experience,” says Currie, one of three volunteers who, with two teachers and a cook, assisted in the daily care of 50 children at the centre.
But the experience provided her with even more.
Currie got to give the children some much-needed special attention.
“At nap time, a lot of the children wouldn’t sleep. Instead, they’d ask us to rub their backs or play with their hair. So we would switch it up every day (so everyone would get a turn). They loved it.”
Currie also noticed that attention was needed outside in the playground.
“They had a slide, but it was hanging on (the stand) by a nail. During recess, you had to hold children on it for fear that they would fall off. They were in danger playing there.
“They also had one little bike. The tires had worn down and they were riding on the rims. But the smile while they were riding the bike was so big. I thought about how it would feel for them to have a new bike to ride on,” says Currie.
So when she came back home, she wrote a story about her trip and entered it in a contest in the hope of using her winnings to purchase badly needed playground equipment.
“Although I didn’t win, the experience has impacted my life. I’ve become aware of the things that they need,” says Currie, who was billeted with a host family.
One powerful experience that sticks out in her mind was the day she was asked to accompany a young boy to the washroom during regular class hours.
Standing outside, she waited for him.
And when he reappeared, she asked him if he had washed his hands.
“He said he couldn’t. There was no sink in the washroom. So I took him to the kitchen sink and showed him how to wash his hands. He seemed so happy,” says Currie who, with her fellow volunteers, bought large bottles of hand sanitizer to leave in the washrooms.
They also showed the children how to use it.
Since returning to P.E.I. this past December, she’s looking for other ways to make an impact on their lives in a positive way.
“All I want to do now is make some money so I can donate it to them to give them a better life,” says Currie, who is sending toothbrushes and toothpaste down with a friend who is going on a similar volunteer work experience to Costa Rica in April.
What are her plans for the future?
“In the fall, I’m hoping to get into the dental assisting program at Holland College.
“I’m also considering going on another volunteer trip. IVHQ goes to lots of places.”