Have you ever wondered how is the daily life of a volunteer? In my case, even before reaching Madeira just had no idea how would my daily life. Now, just three weeks after arriving, I feel sufficiently integrated into the environment to tell what all, tuned!
First, that the Portuguese and Spanish languages have some similarity -less than I expected- has been crucial to integrate fast, although I find it hard to express myself in this language beyond the typical and common phrases. I’ve registered for basic lessons of Portuguese and I go to academy two days a week, a total of 12 hours per month, as part of the learning of volunteering. However, I have the opportunity to receive intensive lessons and I think that from next month I will change to this type of lessons, as the basic course was started in October and I missed half course. But surely, where the more you can learn is by listening and interacting with people on the street: at the supermarket, in stores, on the beach or in bars.
As my host organization, SPEA, I am delighted with them, with how to treat me and the activities we undertake. As I said in other occasions, it’s a society for the study and conservation of birds, and thus our work is focused on that line. We are currently working on two projects, one at Madeira’s airport and other in Porto Santo Island, in which we combine field work – observation and data collection, with activity in the office – data processing. We have a small office in the heart of old Funchal, cozy and quiet place within 5 minutes from the house, in which I and my fellow volunteers, along with Elizabeth and Cátia (the “heads”) spend about 8 hours a day to office work. However, times are flexible and when you need to be a little late or leave early, there is no problem.
On economic issues, I have not had any problems. Each month I receive from coordinator hands an amount of money as a floor rental, transportation, telephone and pocket money. We’re writing down everything and I have to sign some bills, besides keeping the bills of expenses on behalf of the organization. Normally this budget is enough to live quietly, eating, moving and do some night life, but getting around the island is usually something expensive, so I can not move as I would like. Additionally, the Portuguese lessons are also funded with project Island Shake’s money.
Otherwise, life here is very quiet and pleasant. After work, about 5pm, I have time to walk or go surfing. Weekends are used for get out of Funchal and visit other towns or areas of the island in the company of friends I met upon arrival, including my roommates, the twin sisters Martha and Miriam. Also responsible for the organization, my coordinators, are very nice and close, and I felt comfortable working and being from the first day, because I know they are there for anything I need.
That’s all for now. Remember that this blog is intended as a window to information, so you can ask the questions or comments you want. That’s what we are all volunteers!