Scottish filmmaker Aidan Nicol shares her experience of volunteering with The Grenada Goat Dairy in the West Indies.
This October I set off to be a volunteer filmmaker for the not-for-profit-organisation, The Grenada Goat Dairy in the West Indies. It was an adventure and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.
The heat was the most challenging aspect of the trip for me. As a filmmaker from the Shetland Islands and resident in Scotland’s chilly capital, walking around the tropics was proving hard enough, never mind getting down and dirty with a troop of fifty goats and my DSLR.
I got my shorts on and headed to the Dairy.
The goats were great subjects to film. Curious, bearded and their tendency to stand and stare or bleat at the camera made them easy to capture.
I soon realised shorts were a mistake though, despite jungle-factor insect repellant I found out the hard way what sixty-five sand fly bites look like on my legs. I bought trousers from a shop in St Georges, and hobbled up for day two of filming. Trousers and long sleeves kept the bugs away but left me having to sit down after ten minutes of filming inside the dairy room where the heat and added layers were making it difficult to stay upright.
Sunburnt and bug bitten, I got into the swing of things by the third day. The local people were wonderful hosts, taking care to get me onto the right buses, putting up with being interviewed and showing me everything there was to know about goat farming. Generous, kind and friendly they really made my time in Grenada, the days off swimming in waterfalls and lazing on white sandy beaches helped too!
Back in Scotland and pining for the 30-degree heat I’ve left behind, I’m now editing the footage for the dairy into four short films covering their work and processes.
I travelled to Grenada to gain some experience working for a not-for-profit, to add to my portfolio of work and to help a good cause. I’d definitely recommend looking around for opportunities where you can help out with your skills too. You can sign up for volunteer jobs through agencies and programs but often for a price. I decided where I’d like to go, looked for interesting charities and contacted the Goat Dairy who got back in touch with me and were very enthusiastic and welcoming.
You’ll get a lot more out of a working holiday than just lying on a beach for a week. Work experience gives you a real feel for a place with the added perks of discount accommodation at The Rainbow Inn and new friends. Just remember your sun cream and pack some light trousers.
Aidan is a graduate filmmaker based in Edinburgh but originally from Shetland. Her background is in community work, specialising in work with young people and charities using film. She is currently employed as a freelancer for the Scottish Borders Council, project producer for Scottish Kids Are Making Movies and this year delivered 3 shorts through ScreenHI for BBC Scotland LAB.