Volunteering in Europe
“A New Zealander volunteers at La Giraudiere”
Hi, my name is Joy Webster and I live in the north island of New Zealand. I have lived there since 1973.I have always wanted to travel in Europe especially as I was born in the UK. Rather than being a holiday maker I found that volunteering in Europe would both immerse me more in the local culture and at the same time be easy on my budget.
I do volunteer work for the Red Cross back in New Zealand which I find is a good way of meeting people and enjoy the general social interaction. So I started to search the web for a volunteering project in Europe and this is how I found Paul’s website in France. La Giraudiere’s website and programme was the most interesting so I applied. His response was so welcoming and positive that I knew that I was making a good decision.
As I would now be travelling to Europe, I decided to spend some time in England before starting this adventure in France, so I visited family and friends in Oxford, Birmingham and Southend-on-sea, which is my old home town.
On 15 May I flew to Bordeaux airport then took the shuttle bus to Bordeaux station (St Jean) where I then took the cross country train to Chalais, where Paul was there to welcome me.
Two volunteers from Australia, Sean and Robyn had prepared dinner and a glass of wine and my stay began. Sean and Robyn were leaving the following morning so I did not get a chance to get to know them.
It was early to bed for me that night but the next morning the bright sun shining in my window woke me. Breakfast first, then a guided tour of this interesting project. Much work has been completed but there is still plenty to do for future volunteers. 7 days have gone by since that day and each packed with good company, food, social occasions and just a little better understanding of the French language, of which I catch about two words in every ten but I am hoping the weekly French lesson will improve that score.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays are volunteer work days. The rest of the week is free to do as you please or join in a variety of trips out. So far, I have played petanque for the first time with the local Brossacaise, shopped at the local market, visited the supermarket to stock up on food, big time, visited the very old Notre Dame of Brossac and drank with the locals at the local bar.
The weekly market in Chalais was full of surprises and, I think, bargains. More delights to follow. If you are thinking about volunteering in Europe or more specifically in France, this is the place to come.