Just like what I mentioned in my previous article, I will share my first experience with Workaway.info on this post. For those who don’t know what Workaway is, it is an organization where you could volunteer worldwide and have meaningful travel experience. Their website was set up for budget travelers, people who want to learn a new language, and for those who want to explore a country’s sights and finding out about its culture. Workawayers can stay with individuals, families, and communities that are looking for help with their projects or activities.
How I found my host in Bali?
I came across this site through Google Alert. I read an article from a newspaper site (I think it’s from Huffington Post) about a girl who volunteered to a surfing camp in Costa Rica for over a month. I like the way she narrated her experience because she gets to surf in the morning, eat breakfast buffet and help with the guest in the afternoon. After reading that article, I hurriedly clicked on the link and studied the site. After doing a lot of research and verifying that the site is legit, I signed up for an individual account for 29.00 USD for one year. I picked Indonesia because my best friend and I have been planning to go to Bali. She works in Kuala Lumpur and I live in Manila, choosing Indonesia is convenient for both of us.
I contacted several hosts in Bali that matches my skills, but the majority of them are not accepting volunteers at the moment. I was about to lose hope then a digital marketer guy replied to my message and said he’ll have a slot open for March. He has a startup company in Bali and needs some help with internet marketing. After reading his reviews and conducting a reference check, I booked my flight tickets then sent the itinerary to him for confirmation. I asked for his number and exchanged text messages through Whatsapp for faster communication.
from left to right; Toni, Wahyu, me, Yanuar and Mitch
Arriving in Bali
When I landed in Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar), Air Asia lost my check in luggage. All I have with me was my laptop and camera. I filed a report and they said I will hear from them after 24 hours. Instead of complaining, I called my host and he said that he can’t pick me up coz he’s at the city hall. He advised me to get Uber instead because airport taxis cost more. FYI, Uber is not allowed at Denpasar Airport arrival hall so you have to cross the street and set the pickup location near the mosque.
When I arrived at the house of my host in Canggu, a group of young people welcomed me. I met another workwayer from Germany, her name is Toni. She will be staying in Bali for 3 months. We hang out on my first day and just chill.
My role as a Volunteer
My host, Wahyu, runs several websites. He knew that I have a background in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and internet marketing, so my task is pretty related to it. He asked me to add some descriptions on the products he’s selling online, look for affiliate marketing sites, posted some pictures on his two e-commerce sites, look for small businesses in Bali where we can offer his service, emailed some SEO companies and ask about their rates. After 4-5 hours of working online, I would ride a motor bike with Toni and Yanuar and explore Bali together. That’s pretty much it.
Helpful tips for first timers
- Come with a clean slate
– it’s good to have a little background info for what you’re about to experience. Google is gonna be your best friend but always keep an open mind and embrace the culture.
- Step out of your comfort zone
– don’t let life or frustration immobilize you, be open to any possibilities you might never have considered. Step up. Step out of your comfort zone. Consider saying ‘yes’ even when ‘no’ feels much safer.
- You are here to volunteer
-do your duty before exploring the country. Be responsible because your performance will reflect on you and your country. So get your work done and step up your game.
- Always have an exit strategy
-I read some horrible stories when the host and the Workawayer don’t get along well. If this happens to you, be prepared to check-in to the nearest hotel or look for another Workaway host. It’s important to save your Uber or taxi driver phone number so you can call them and pick you up when needed.
- Embrace now, forget tomorrow
-Live like there’s no tomorrow. It’s time to stop worrying about things you can’t control and focus on the things you can. Doing volunteer jobs abroad is a fun experience, EMBRACE it and LEARN from it.
Have you tried volunteering abroad? How was it?
Feel free to post your comments below. Ciao! =)