Name: Irapua Santos Ribeiro
Hometown: Minas Gerais, Brazil
Languages spoken: Portuguese, English (fluent)
Occupation: Former Project Manager at Namisa
Past travel experience: Avid
Volunteer Abroad: Teaching English in Vang Vieng, Laos
Duration: 8 weeks
Start month: April 2016
Claim to fame: Irapua has visited 37 countries since 2010. Fantastic work, great to have you in the UBELONG Family, Irapua!
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
In the past years I have done some volunteering work in my former company and for other non-profit organisations. Then last year when I was studying in Australia I met a friend who was engaging in a volunteering program in Cambodia through UBELONG. Then I was inspired by her to do the same and I started searching about volunteering opportunities in developing countries. UBELONG turned to be my best choice also because I wanted to work in SE Asia or Africa. I read about the organisation and about the projects then I decided to take part on it.
Tell me about somebody you met who impressed you?
I believe that I had more people who impressed me than just one. Suzy was one of them. She is on her late fifties and so full of energy! She also has an amazing background and experience and was always sharing knowledge with the other volunteers. She was the one who encouraged me to do my first class, which we did together and was really exciting. Another one was Onkeo, the local team member who oversees at the organic farm. When we were implementing the irrigation system for the farm he always had great and simple ideas to solve our construction problems.
What was your impact on your volunteer project?
I developed and implemented together with the local team the irrigation system for the organic farm. It’s a system that is connected to the well pump and the rain water collected from the roof of the hut. It’s a flexible and sustainable system that can be used for both the raining and dry season. And the system is simple to be replicated if they need to expand it.
I also left a message of resilience and persistence during my English classes. My first class we started talking about what the students wanted to be and why they were learning English. By focusing on their motivation I encouraged them to be responsible for their own evolution and future.
In a sentence or less, how would you sum up your experience?
It was a time for giving back to the world part of the much I’ve gained in life so far, both personally and professionally.