When did you come out of your Mummy’s tummy?
By Rachel Bagnall-Bray and Rob Bagnall
Cartagena is a magical city. Full of life and adventure, but also full of contrasts. Through Domino Volunteers we were lucky enough to experience the full variety of Cartagenero life.
Volunteering with Domino Volunteers was an unquestionable highlight among our adventure of a lifetime: a 100 day honeymoon around Latin America. While we climbed an active volcano in Chile, trekked the Inca trail to Machu Picchu and admired wild sloths in Costa Rica, hearing children screaming with excitement simply because we had come back to play with them again was really moving.
We got in touch with Domino Volunteers as they are a social enterprise who matches volunteers from all over the world with small projects across Cartagena. What a great way to meet many different people and have wide-ranging experiences. We were thrilled that for us this absolutely was the case, all the time we wanted was filled with volunteering and we were offered such varied volunteering opportunities in teaching, community sports activities and a beach village clean-up.
We stayed with Domino Volunteer's Alex in Olaya, and the locals were pretty surprised to see us “tourists” there. This really was such a wonderful part of our experience as we quickly felt at home and often practiced our Spanish with the kind and caring family.
Our volunteering time was split between three foundations: Project Corajem, Yo Soy Olaya and volunteering directly for Domino Volunteers' English conversation club. What an easy win for us, charming cartageneros wanted to chat with us to improve their English, great!
Project Corajem offers English classes in the beach village of Marlinda. We assisted with an adults’ English class and led a revision session which prepared them for an upcoming exam… of course, including the traditional revision techniques of basketball and hangman to make sure everyone had a great time too! We also volunteered for a Project Corajem Marlinda community clean-up. Alongside our army of little helpers from the village we gathered tonnes of rubbish, and interacted with so many kind children who were really committed to improving the local landscape.
Yo Soy Olaya holds free, drop-in children’s activities in their neighbourhood park. This really was a full-on, unforgettable experience! We read fables to the 100+ children from 3-14 who came to join in, created prize-fuelled quizzes, facilitated fable-related colouring and then helped to run an action-packed sports day for the children. The sports day included really creative games that made use of the local facilities such as obstacle courses, ball games and sack races. The project’s founder, Osmairo, wanted the children to learn about our culture and so they quizzed us a little over the microphone. This was a real test of our Spanish as they spoke like most children do, with strong accents, using slang and with mumbled delivery! After numerous questions solely about our age, the year we were born etc, one boy proudly asked us “when did you come out of your mummy’s tummy”! Very sweet… not sure how much they now know about the UK, but surely the fact that we’re 27 will have stayed with them!
A heart-felt thank you to Alex and Christina who not only provided us with a memorable stay, but also welcomed us with open arms, making Cartagena truly feel like home.