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Volunteer: Volunteers' Experiences

This will be my second trip to Vietnam with Buds to Blossoms. The last experience I had was incredible. It has inspired me to go back to school to further my education. My plan is to become a Doctor of Osteopathy. I feel that Buds to Blossoms has shown me my passion in life and I will continue to strive to be of assistance where I can to others.

Larissa Fischer

The size of the groups is perfect. We are all held in a space of support and caring while doing the work. I felt prepared, safe and listened to, and therefore able to give my best to the children. It's beautiful to be part of a process that not only helps the kids but gives so much to the volunteers. Thank you for yet another life changing experience.

Robbyn Storey

From the moment of signing up, volunteers are given a wealth of information which is presented in a very coherent and easily accessible way. This gives us all a safe foundation to work from, and fosters an early feeling of inclusion and understanding. This programme clearly impacts positively on the children. You can see this reflected in their eyes, faces and body language. Eyes shine and smile, muscles relax and the children make it known in their own way that they really want to share this experience with you! You can feel any tensions falling away from them. The one on one attention, care, love and space they receive from the volunteers have such a hugely positive impact. I just wanted an opportunity to be able to give, and that was what I was allowed to do. It is such a privilege to be able to do that – to give and share with those who really need it.

Celeste Taylor

The program is an eye opener. Working with children with disabilities and HIV/AIDS and just caring for them makes so much impact on their lives. A little of our time brightens their lives, and they bring so much joy to the volunteers too. I am personally going home with a bigger heart and lots of memories. So grateful to be here.

Anjuli Sethi

Initially, I struggled with how confronting it was meeting the disabled children. But soon realised it was my thinking and I soon gained confidence and was able to provide the care they needed. Getting a child's clenched fist or contracted arm to extension, even for a few minutes and seeing their priceless smiles of amazement (look i can do this)... wow, powerful stuff! Seeing the faces of the children and staff, and their receptiveness to us, is testament to the benefits of our work. Working with the children was more fulfilling than I ever imagined. I was touched like never before. Simply beautiful for mind body and soul.

Noel Peters

This was an amazing experience! It's such a beautiful opportunity. I take with me lots of laughs, smiles, great moments and friendships. Nothing can describe the feeling of giving and receiving so much more in return.

Eliane Fallenbaum Gateno

The experiences I've had in this program have helped me grow as a person and step outside my comfort zone. The experience of a lifetime.

Michelle Fleming

A massive impact on children's health and wellness. An absolutely breathtaking experience which will be remembered for life. To give so unconditionally, to nurture children by touch alone and positive regard. I felt the children connect and "come alive" under the warmth of my hands — an indescribable emotion. It was beautiful to role model positive touch to the carers, and I can see the benefits of this to the children and staff. Personally I'm looking forward to the next challenge. If I can do this, I can do anything!

Marianne Baker

This is probably the most humbling experience of my life so far, and at the same time, the most gratifying.

Emily Cohen

The program impacted me in such an amazing way. It was amazing that I got to be there and just give my love and attention to these kids that want so little and see how much joy they get out of us being there. It humbles me to see that we can survive on so little but that touch is such an important part of everyday life. It opened my heart to so much more. I enjoyed the program very much and would love to do it again. It truly changed my life.

Randi Morrison

I've grown leaps and bounds this week, realizing I have a "gift" with children, developing my confidence working with them. I feel I've touched lives and they've touched mine. This has been the most moving experience of my life so far.

Julia Wyatt

The benefits could be seen instantly with the children, and I know there will be long-lasting effects too. It has been a great experience spending time with the other volunteers and growing together as a family. I am excited about sharing my memories and using my experiences in following my passion for helping others. This program has taught me that effective altruism can be achieved through a nurturing touch, a gentle smile and a warm heart.

Luke Campbell

I felt that both the children and the volunteers opened up through the massage activities. I could feel the children relax more during the massages. They clearly enjoyed the massages and got relief from them. I also became more relaxed, understanding and open with people who have physical and mental disabilities and HIV. The children brought me a lot of joy.

Cai Xiaodan

I left the program with so much. I had a greater sense of my own self-worth and ability to impact others in a positive way. I had a greater sense of my own humanity, of who I am when the need to earn a living is taken out of the equation. I was free to explore the full extent of my ability to nurture others. In doing so I nurtured myself.

Tim Clark

It was nice to see how much the children wanted massage. Some of them would come back for a second or third massage. I never caught on to the Vietnamese language, but it didn't matter, since it is easy to understand a yes to massage, care and attention.

Johanna Waters

Buds to Blossoms is a life changing experience. To give the gift of touch, engagement and connectedness to these special children has been a treat. The impact of caring touch was noticed immediately. The thought of how this may blossom in the future is so exciting. I am in awe of how deep this experience has been for me.

Dawn Averitt

For me personally this program helped me grow. It was intimidating, at first, to work with children who have illness or physical limitations. Working with them opened my eyes to how much touch can affect. I had such an amazing experience. I'm so grateful for my amazing team and the calm power of the leadership. I appreciate how loving and caring everyone was towards the children and each other.

Larissa Fischer

Clearly this work is very valuable for the kids and the volunteers. It is a privilege to be able to give and receive so much love — a reminder of what's really important.

Jonathan Whittle-Utter

I enjoyed the consistency of going to the same places to get to know the kids and build relationships. Plus having everything planned out well and "paced" with breaks really helped keep my energy level up. This trip exceeded my expectations.

Amy Ortiz