A Parent’s View: Parents of Jessica Norton – South Africa
1. What were your initial concerns when your daughter suggested volunteering abroad?We were initially worried about her personal safety; certain destinations have bad reputations. We were also concerned about the credibility of the company, as we hadn’t heard of them before.
2. How did Projects Abroad handle your concerns?We researched the company and destination on the internet. Jess gave us a lot of the information after phoning the Head Office and discussing everything.
3. Did you have enough phone or email contact with the office staff prior to applying for the project?Projects Abroad didn’t contact us, but Jess was 20 at the time so didn’t need us to be as involved in the application process as a younger volunteer.
4. Did you feel reassured that your son/daughter could reach support from our staff throughout their time overseas?Yes; we knew there would be staff at the destination who could help her out if something went wrong.
5. Did you find that your daughter had enough opportunity to contact home whilst away?Yes, we heard from her via email every week and spoke to her on the phone once or twice. South Africa has internet cafes which are easily accessible.
6. Whilst away did your daughter have any issues which you needed to get involved in and if so how was this resolved?Running out of money - maybe Projects Abroad could organise deals with pre-paid card companies? It ended up being more expensive than expected. This wasn’t a major problem but possibly something to warn volunteers about in the future; just to make sure they have a suitable amount of money for their stay.
7. How did the trip affect your daughter? For example has their experience helped secure a job or university place?No, but great life experience. Jess has been very proactive since she came back to raise money for the school she worked for.
8. Would you recommend Projects Abroad to a friend?Yes. They came across as very professional, there was plenty of contact whilst she was out there and all went smoothly. It was fantastic that she stayed with a host family; we felt that she had more protection. It was more comforting for us that she was with a family and getting to know what local life is like.