Name: Lovella Pinero
Hometown: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Languages spoken: Tagalog, English (advanced), Arabic (beginner)
Occupation: Staff Nurse at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City
Volunteer Abroad: Caring for Children with Disabilities in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Duration: 2 weeks
Start month: July 2018
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG volunteer?
I’ve always wanted to volunteer abroad, but the timing was always off. It was difficult for me to juggle things here and there. At some point in my life, I felt half-empty and a part of me was calling to be of great service to others. Fortunately, a wonderful opportunity, like UBELONG, came along. Without second thoughts, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and become a volunteer.
What was your favorite memory?
There are a lot of great memories I’ve experienced, but one of my favorites was during my first day at the center. A kid ran onto me, gave me a tight big hug, and seemed so happy to see me. I just couldn’t let go of that moment and my heart was full. The genuine smiles and cute giggles of my so-called “babies” are etched in my heart forever.
What were your major challenges?
I’d say the major challenge would be the language barrier. Though I’ve learned some basic Khmer words and phrases through the volunteer packet I got and during the orientation, it’s still a struggle for me. I think things would’ve been better if I knew the language well. I could’ve expressed what I wanted to say to the kids and caretakers properly. Nevertheless, everything worked out because we’ve shared the universal language of love and kindness to one another.
In a sentence or less, how would you describe local life?
Cambodians live a life full of simplicity, contentment, kindness, and smiles.