The following is the first of a series of postings by Rika Sawatsky. OPIRG McMaster assisted her with some funding for this trip.

Hello everybody,

I just graduated from McMaster´s Arts & Science program and am currently in Venezuela with a team of 7 other McMaster students. We´re volunteering at a few locations in the country under the auspices of Canadian registered charity Global Youth Network. We arrived in Caracas a few days ago and had some time to settle down and begin adjusting to the culture. My Spanish is still horrendous, but the people here are very kind and are helping us learn some things. The city is absolutely beautiful. The people are also very kind here, and our hosts made us some fantastic dishes. Our volunteering really only began just this morning. We moved to our first placement in San Sebastien, just 2 hours out of Caracas. It is a smaller town, with I believe 40 000 people.

We´re staying at a boys´home and will be volunteering between there and a girls´home a few doors down. Again, the people are great. The children have been very patient with our inability to speak their language, and we´ve been having a lot of fun trying to communicate. This is just a short update for now since we haven´t really started any of our volunteer work yet. I will be posting again at the end of the week. We will then be moving onto another town, and then into the Amazon for a couple of weeks.