Make a payment

Menu

Our Projects

About VESA

VESA’s humanitarian and conservation projects aim to provide direct action support to communities in parts of the world overlooked by traditional charities and aid organisations.

Learn more

Travel Info

From the minute you book your trip we provide you with everything you need to know, so you get the most out of your VESA experience. 

Learn more
What we’ve achieved

Laos 2018 – 2019

Southeast Asia Encountered

Thank you

Please enjoy reading about the achievements of our 2018 - 2019 volunteers which will give you an idea of the vast amount of assistance that you too will be giving to the local communities, through your generosity. And a special thank you to Sophie, Nick, Megan and Noah who have been a fantastic team to lead our volunteer projects in the 2018 - 2019 season.

Group 1

Elephant Conservation Centre

SOPHIE - Conservation

The elephant program follows the same routine each day, however there were some special highlights from this group. Twice, while watching the mother and the 3-year-old baby play by the water, there were guests added into the mix. Once, a 5-year male who the baby played with incessantly – jumping onto his back and getting him into the water each time he tried to leave by using her head as a battering ram. Secondly, the pair were joined by another adult female who acted as an auntie to the baby. She played with her until her patience wore out and she swam away and crawled up the opposite bank, much to the annoyance of her Mahout who had to run through the forest after her! The baby cried, growled and trumpeted at being left which made for an amazing experience for the volunteers witnessing it.

• Each morning the group walks into the jungle with a mahout to pick up their elephant from where they slept the night before, and then follow the elephant down to the lake for the first bath time of the day.
• From this point we hike up to the observation deck of the socialization area, where five elephants at a time can interact without human intervention.
• We visit a second deck in the treetops to observe the whole valley and any elephants seeking shade in the trees.
• The volunteers then visit the hospital where the Vet Assistant provides a biology talk, and target training takes place, so they can experience the process the elephants go through to become acclimatized to the vets’ touch.

Elephant Conservation Centre

NOAH – Construction Projects

This program was very productive for ECC construction, the hard work and dedication of every volunteer really made this project possible to complete in just a week.

A big shutout to Anthony and Tess for helping me carry heavy water jugs from the ECC all the way out into the jungle, as the hike out there is tough, I very much appreciated the help and can’t thank them enough for their hard work.

• Clearing out the perimeter (1500 meters) of the 2nd socialization area at the ECC of vegetation, branches, vines, etc. around the fence poles so the ECC can run the fence line through the poles
• Cleared out the vegetation that grew back over the viewing platform that was done last season.

Sayaboury village School

NICK - Construction Projects

This group was awesome! Got so much done at the school and the forest. Work was achieved so much faster than expected.

• School ceiling was pulled down via claw hammers in multiple classrooms and outside rooftop. This needed to be done due to mould and rotting wood that was leaking and falling apart when it rained. The wood was then carried to the incinerator pit and disposed of. New materials were ordered, and the team unloaded it all.
• New ceiling panels were reinforced with more wood and replaced.
• Walls and shutters were cleaned and sandpapered to make way for a new coat of paint for the front and back of the school.
• All shutters were painted, and the new replacement ceiling panels were painted over as well.

Sayaboury village School

MEGAN – Education coordinator

Each of the four rotational groups were fantastic with the students. They really showed a passion for the lessons and willingly participated in the interactive lessons which often involved a volunteer and a student standing up in front of the class to demonstrate their work.
Those who studied teaching at university, particularly Petra and Grace put forward some great suggestions, involving the student’s pronunciation and learning of vowels. Alongside games which heightened the number of students participating in exercise.

A comic moment came every day when we would do the Macarena with the kids for a good 15 minutes, whilst in the background a few more of our volunteers would either be playing wheel barrows, football or skipping with the children. A bromance really formed with one of our volunteers, Matt, and a group of the male students during play time, so much so that when Matt came to the school on the final day to say goodbye all the students ran and jumped on him, clinging on to his arms, legs, shoulders!

At 9:30 every morning, when year 4 students Bounham and Quansi ran a daily exercise class for the whole school, the volunteers also participated and often put forward some of their own stretches or movements.

Year 5 – Simple conversational and the listing of parts of the body and the understanding and correct pronunciation of pieces of clothing along with objects and places around the school; bench, chair, door, roof, outside and inside.

Year 4 – Again conversational as well as the days of the week, listing of parts of the body and the understanding and correct pronunciation of objects around the classroom and family members.

Year 3 – Basic conversational sentences as these students were a lot younger than those in years 4/5, with less experience practicing English. A lot of focus was given to “Hello, what is your name?”, “My name is….” – The listing of block colours, such as white, black, blue, pink, green, orange, yellow, brown etc.

Group 2

Elephant Conservation Centre

SOPHIE - Conservation coordinator

The elephant program follows the same routine each day, however the first group to visit the elephants was the most enthusiastic and excited we’ve ever had – there were even some tears!! We are starting to see the 5-year-old male come down to bath time in the morning – exposing him to adult females and humans. He is part of the pilot release program that is going ahead this year!

• Each morning the group walks into the jungle with a mahout to pick up their elephant from where they slept the night before, and then follow the elephant down to the lake for the first bath time of the day.
• From this point we hike up to the observation deck of the socialization area, where five elephants at a time can interact without human intervention.
• We visit a second deck in the treetops to observe the whole valley and any elephants seeking shade in the trees.
• The volunteers then visit the hospital where the Vet Assistant provides a biology talk, and target training takes place, so they can experience the process the elephants go through to become acclimatized to the vets’ touch.

Elephant Conservation Centre

NICK - Construction Projects

We were bouncing back and forth from working in the jungle to working at the ECC’s main area (being there office, the elephant hospital, the dining room, etc.) due to rain that kept us out of the jungle. We spent two days working at the elephant hospital and three and half days in the jungle.

In the jungle the focus was on digging six holes for posts at the two observations areas at the second socialization area and getting the materials out there for the builders which was very difficult due its location. We loaded the building materials (which includes the re-bar brackets, and about 250 kilos of rock and sand that we shovelled into bags) onto a truck to get it out there and then had to clear a path for the truck of about 200 meters to make it to the work site. The builders started building the observation decks after we left.

At the ECC’s main area we worked at the elephant hospital doing maintenance and remodelling on the building such as removing old rusted/rotten guttering, painting the last room of the hospital, mixing concrete and putting down floor tiles for a bathroom, and painting an elephant Skeleton with wax which protects it from the weather and keeps it in good condition.
Also we carried large pieces of bamboo to the edge of the jungle to be used as handrails. Around 60 meters of bamboo in total.

Sayaboury village School

NICK - Construction Projects

Excellent program that overcame many unexpected bumps in the road with extreme enthusiasm and positivity. Can’t express how proud I am of the volunteers that got sick and bounced back to take advantage of all their time in country. Legends!

The volunteers finishing the exterior painting while those indoors finish another classroom. Each classroom must be cleaned out first and walls sandpapered before painting can begin.

• Finished reinforcing and repairs/replace on ceilings for 4 different classrooms
• Finished painting the exterior of the school
• Finished painting the interior of the school (4 different classrooms including the new repaired ceilings)

Sayaboury village School

MEGAN – Education coordinator

We had four of our largest rotational groups this program each of which were fantastic with the students. The male students often seemed to have a soft spot for our male volunteers, in particular Tom who they renamed Hom. This bromance also resulted in the students tackling it out between themselves to ensure Tom sat next to them during lessons.

A couple of positive achievements that came from this program were the ‘recycling’ and ‘toothbrush’ initiatives. The toothbrush scheme was excitedly adhered to by the students every day after their morning exercise class, when they would queue up with their donated toothbrushes to receive toothpaste from the volunteers and then commence to brush their teeth.

The recycling scheme came every lunchtime and involved volunteers and students picking up rubbish, taking it to the compost area, washing hands and then those students that helped would receive stickers for their efforts as a form of award.

Teaching was given across year 3, 4 and 5 students. The following list shows the work achieved with each class.

Year 5 and 4 (both years were combined as they were at similar levels in terms of English) – Revised words, revisited the conversational sentences taught in Program 1, introduced vocabulary which coincided with the ‘toothbrush’ and ‘recycling’ initiatives, followed by contextual sentences such as “What is this?” “This is my toothbrush”. Other learnt vocabulary included types of buildings, animals and emotions. – Learnt contextual sentences to increase a higher understanding between students and volunteers when leaving for lunch and after the working day. This included “See you again” and “See you tomorrow”

Year 3 – Listed building types, such as hotel, house, school, bus station, restaurant. – Learnt classroom objects such as table, bench, chair, chalk, chalkboard, pencil and pen.