WOW!kate and Harold wedding ceremony

Look what  Kate, our Volunteer Programme Director and   Harold our Co-Founder and   Non Exec Chair went and did last Friday!

It was a well kept secret – you should have seen everyones faces at their annual summer party….when Kate mentioned “my husband and I”

What fun!!!!!!

wedding cake

Seems to be a ‘media day’ …  this article in The Guardian today asks, yet again, whether ‘voluntourism’ does more harm than good …

“If volunteers are truly to help communities overseas, charities and NGOs must take the time to match their skills with the right projects,” says Matthew Jenkin, editor of Guardian Careers

mutual learning, sharing, hugging!

mutual learning, sharing, hugging!

Key word: “MATCH” …

Our own approach here at ‘people and places is – and always has been – to begin with an understanding of local need in order to match each volunteer’s skills and experience to local need. This matching process – vital in facilitating mutually rewarding and beneficial placements – takes time and is paramount!

Sallie gives a brief synopsis of our approach:

“There are a number of cultural issues – will the local community be comfortable with strangers in their midst? How will they make sure that their culture is protected and respected? They need to make sure that the recruitment organisation has devised a code of conduct and, if there are children present, a child protection policy. A needs assessment must be done.”

Read about our matching process here

Really useful tips, advice and pointers in this article to guide your research when you’re beginning to think about volunteering in projects abroad … how to find the right project for you …

tips & advice



“short-term volunteering – how to do it well”

Begin by asking lots of questions … and expect full answers !

Sallie is quoted, as is Michael, our local partner in Cambodia, where our volunteers work in this community project in Siem Reap.

Michael’s question 1: “Does the project where you’ll be working meet a real need, and is it the appropriate response to that need?”
and from Sallie: “Would I be allowed to do this work in my own country?”

An article in the ‘Nepali Times’ yesterday … certainly the right way to go in the wake of the inevitable post-quake disruption …

We know there are some institutions which are well-run, and organisations which concentrate on re-homing children with their extended families and communities … Here are some links to research more thoroughly:

OCCED – Naxal, Kathmandu

ChildSafe Network


Family for Every Child 

check out this Facebook page for recent posts, resources and information about Better Child Protection

Go well Simphiwe

By Sallie | Filed in project news | No comments yet.



We learned today, with much sadness – that Simphiwe – who many volunteers to South Africa will remember for his work at Calabash Trust – collapsed and died suddenly over the weekend.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends – Travel Well Simphiwe – you will be missed


As promised, we are writing an update to our blog post  on 27th April            Nepal

News is still very sketchy as you can imagine -

but below is the latest we have and also details of how you can donate -

- if you wish

- thanks to all of you who have asked.


We have talked with our partners in Nepal and the suggested charities for donations have come from them –  they and we  trust that these mechanisms are the best way to ensure they recieve funds ASAP.



Shermethang and Yangrima School

The village has been devestated and only yesterday did real assistance reach them – through childreach international – thier incountry director is one of Nima’s brothers and he with Nima was one of the founders of Yangrima – read a very  recent article about him here .

There are a number of photos of the state of Yangrima on our Face Book page these are just a few










Tshering posted this today May 1st on his Face Book page

“This is Yangrima school in my hometown – Shermathang. The school was closed for 8 years because of the civil war. I promised my people that I would do anything to re-open the school. I was fortunate to started working for Childreach International to raise fund and managed to re-open the school 6 years ago. I was in tear in the first day we re-opened, I was in tear because of villager’s smile, I was in tear seeing children runing around the school yard. This place is not only dear to my heart. It is where my soul lay,it was the reason why I wanted further education, it was the reason why I am who I am today. My heart broken seeing everything we done all gone in a flash. BUT – WE WILL REBUILT THIS SCHOOL, AND MANY OTHER SCHOOLS THAT HAVE COLLAPSED. Like what I promised to people of my village many years ago, today, I promise I will do whatever it take to make this school rise again !”

Nima recommends that you donate to childreach at the moment ( he is unsure when Yangrima will be able to access funds through thier own account. ChildReach has worked closely with Yangrma for a number of years and Tshering is the In Country Director. Childreach is on the ground giving emergency support

click here to donate

If ,however, you would like to donate directly to Yangrima you can donate here – and Yangrima will access the funds as soon as they can – they will need a lot of help rebuilding


The orphanage has been seriously damaged but all the children are safe. Dot Coupe ( a long term visitor and volunteer at Naxal is in Kathmandu with the children of Naxal – she was there when the earthquake happened and has stayed on.

The  children….and Dot….. have been sleeping under tarpaulin and even studying!
















You can read an interview – post earthquake with Dot here 

Dot and other volunteers have been fundraising for a new premesis for Naxal and they are nearly at their target – Naxal have asked, if you wish to donate, that you support this initiative – they have found the property – it is safe .

You can donate to Naxal here


Tiger Mountain and Amar Jyoti,

Here we have good news! There is no damage at Tiger Mopuntain and no damage at Amar Jyoti  to Amar Jyoti  – but Marcus tells us that Thuloswara village ( home to some Amar Jyoti children) has had  houses destroyed  - so although Pokhara appears to have been very lucky, many  families in the country around Pokhara are homeless and safety  is the most important issue given that the rains are only a few weeks ago. He has asked that if you wish to donate you donate to



We have heard little news but we do know that it was not a school day – so very few children were at school and the bamboo ensured protection. In fact  Uttam has opened the Samata schools as a refuge to those that have lost thier homes.

If any volunteers have managed to make contact please do let us know – you know at the best of times Uttam is not easy to contact!


















Raj and the Social Tours team are working tirelessly to help people in remote areas find shelter – Raj has set off today to Gati to deliver emergency aid including tarpaulins

If you would like to support Social Tours work please follow this link – again due to lack of clarity about when they can access  funds he has asked that you pledge funds and they will contact you when they have clarity.

Here is the pledge form

If you have even limited computor skills and you want to help but do not know how this is a wonderful initiative – where you can help with some time at your own computer 

There will be many many displaced children during this tragedy – we highly recommend supporting Next Generation Nepal – we know them personally and thier work is so important – they work to keep children in Nepal out of orphanages and in thier families and communities. They are a small NGO – the work will be huge – if you can spare a few pounds for them too it will be well used. Donate to them here

Finally – thankyou everyone – for all your support.

please follow us on faceBook to keep up to date – we try to post when and as we have news



The scale of the disaster facing Nepal after it was struck by an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale is slowly Nepalbecoming clearer. Thousands of lives have been lost, thousands more have been injured. Buildings have been reduced to rubble. Roads, bridges and communications systems are severely damaged.Water and food and sanitation will become an ever increasing problem.

The areas closest to the epicentre have yet to be reached, leading many to predict that the true extent of the disaster is likely to be greater still.  Aid and assistance has already been pledged and mobilised around the world. But the challenges facing what is likely to be a large emergency response are great.

Thankyou to all our volunteers and friends that have contacted us to express concern and offer help.

As you can imagine – communication is difficult but here is the status as at midday UK time today 27th April with our friends and partners

Tiger Mountain and Amar Jyoti  - “we have been incredibly lucky at Tiger Mountain  All OK for now but we will start an appeal when we are clear what is best to do and how.Weare OK but we are surrounded by devastation”

Yangrima and Shermethang village  - we have heard little from Shermathang – but we do know that all in the village have survived despite devastation- they are sheltering in the school- the main challenge is water.We also understand that due to shortage of helicopters they are not getting any help from outside. We understand that Nima has a family member that is still unaccounted for.


We have heard that all at Naxal – children, staff and the board are safe.

Dot Coupe is paying her annual visit to Naxal – she is there at Naxal at the moment – these are some messages from Dot via FaceBook

” Arrived back at Occed Nepal to find kids watching TV and water pump working. yipeee!!. electricity on ….and 3G signal

Kathmandu is waking up. Yesterday there was hardly anyone on the streets and few taxis, one asked for 1000rupees when i usually pay 150. Today more traffic and a few food shops open” 1oam UK time Monday

post from  Dot at 8 am UK time Monday

“Horlicks & biscuits when we woke

This may be my last post from Occed Nepal for a while. our back up battery is low so no more charging for mobiles.

We all settled down for the night under our tent and it started raining.

Why be so cruel on top of everything that you have already given Nepal… so many people sleeping outdoors!!

We tried our best but the blankets were getting wet. we squashed closer to the middle but the sheet was leaking. The younger boys and girls moved inside the extension block, sleeping on bottom bunks and storeroom floor. The little ones were dry & warm in the centre of the tent so didi’s and older ones stayed out. They refuse to go indoors anyway as they are afraid the house will fall down.

Three small shakes through night lasting about 5 seconds but not bad enough to frighten

This tent accommodation will be long term so hung out wet blankets, lifted judo mats and swept the brick yard. Then children carried the bricks from fallen wall in lane to lay a raised area and put mats back down.

Girls bleached toilets, which were smelling as we cannot afford to use water for flushing just a good clean each day. We got more bottled water (lge dispenser type) but shops will run out soon.

During this time didi’s had made rice curried potatoes and boiled eggs. We have no vegetables. will try to find some today but doubt there will be any coming in from the countryside. might find some fruit, bananas & oranges.

I will go to my hotel again now. it was locked yesterday ..they said because CNN news had said another quake between 3-6.!!!!

After being in these clothes and no wash for 48 hours I don’t feel too bad but be better after shower & change. feel guilty as don’t know when the children will get a good wash. They change their clothes but cannot wash them.

so important that we buy them that new house..hope it hadn’t been damaged”


SocialTours Team

We heard via facebook on Saturday that Raj and the team were Ok ( though it took sometime to hear that Bipin was OK) however we have heard nothing since yesterday.


Our understanding is that everyone is sleeping and living outdoors and that there are still aftershockes.

The rain forecast for the coming days will only make things worse.


How to Donate

So many of you have contacted us to ask how you can help

Firstly –  please do not try to travel to Nepal – at the moment Nepal needs disaster experts and money.

The priorities are safety,hygiene, food and water.

The following are the charities we feel very comfortable recommending to you in the crisis time.

save the children Nepal appeal 

doctors without borders

international relief team 

Red Cross 

Once the immediate emergency is over we will post letting you know how you can support Yangrima, Naxal,Amar Jyoti and Samata directly – remeber if you donate to them now they will in all likelihood have no way to access the monies

To keep up to date with humanitarian efforts this is a good resourc e

We will post news – when and as we get it here


Apologies for grammar and spelling errors – am posting ASAP!

So – a date for your diaries: Saturday 7th November 1 to 5pm–
at home with people and places at ‘head office’ Faversham, Kent. meet_up

“I cannot overstate the importance of thorough preparation for a volunteer experience….I was able to attend a P & P social event where I was able to talk directly to the staff and to people who had been  before.  These conversations were very helpful.  I also met another volunteer who would be in the school at the same time as my wife and myself, so a potential ‘team’ identity was established. “ volunteer Bob

We all LOVE these occasions and can promise you a thoroughly informative and sociable afternoon: find out more about our volunteer programmes; meet some of our local partners who will be in the UK for the annual World Travel Market in London; meet other volunteers – some who have already returned from their placements and have lots of news to share; enjoy the stimulating company of like-minded people – of all ages and from all walks of life; share in some sustaining drinks and nibbles … oh yes, and meet me (Kate) Sallie, Dianne and Nigel …

This is an informal occasion – at about 1.45pm, we will give a short presentation and then there will be plenty of time to ask questions and socialise.
Our get togethers in Faversham are always popular, so please let us know as soon as possible if you would like to come in November and before  29th May would be really helpful!

Please let us know if you plan to come along, and if you will be alone or with friends and family!

R.S.V.P. by 29th May

We’ll then send out further info and directions.

We so look forward to meeting you – again, or for the first time !

people & places talk at King’s College London – a report from volunteer and KCL alumna Anke

Anke on a radio show in The Gambia

Anke on a radio show in The Gambia


In early March, Sallie, Dianne and I were invited to give a talk to tourism and development students at King’s College London. The idea for this shared event developed through a couple of meetings with the Tourism, Environment and Development course Leader Dr. Ruth Craggs, who is very interested and supportive in building bridges between students and practitioners, and creating opportunities for sharing  knowledge and experience from King’s alumni, such as myself.

What I liked most about the session is that everyone made us feel very welcome and that the students seemed really engaged and asked lots of interesting questions, creating an open and vibrant atmosphere.

The afternoon started with Sallie setting the scene by providing some background on responsible volunteering, which ultimately seeks to ‘maximise positive impacts and to minimise negative ones’ (Cape Town Declaration 2002).

She then gave practical tips about how to easily distinguish responsible volunteer organisations from the black sheep in the industry, for example checking if there is full transparency where volunteer and project money is spent or how quick booking functions without requesting background checks or any professional or personal information are a sign of an irresponsible volunteer company.

I know from my own volunteer experience that the thorough skill matching process people and places undertake before they confirm any placement is vital for the success of any volunteer project, for both, local partners and for the volunteer. Read the remainder of this entry »

Volunteers Maggie and Bob tell their story of their time volunteering in Port Elizabeth South Africa-


So, did you have a good holiday?  You were away for quite a time weren’t you? 

 - Yes about five weeks, but it wasn’t……

 - South Africa.  You went to South Africa, didn’t you?  Garden route?  My wife and I did that a couple of years ago.  Very beautiful.  Did you start at Cape Town or Port Elizabeth?

 - We were in Port Elizabeth.

 - Yes, worth a brief stopover before you take to the road, I suppose.

 - Well, we didn’t really leave Port Elizabeth…

 - How come?  What do you mean?  You stayed there for five weeks?  What was the problem? 

 - No problem at all.  On the contrary, PE is a fantastic place to stay.  I was trying to tell you.  We weren’t exactly on holiday…. We were working.

 - Working?  I thought you had retired a long time ago.

 - Yes, but we decided to come out of retirement for a special project.

 - A special project?  Sounds intriguing, tell me more. 

-   Well, we were teaching in a township school….

-   Oh……

This dialogue, partly imagined, partly real, is the kind of normal post-holiday chit-chat that we have engaged in frequently since our return from South Africa a few weeks ago.  It is a conversation that suddenly takes an unusual turn.  It is at about this point in the exchange – reference to the township school – that there is a slight pause while our interlocutor takes a few moments to adjust to this unfamiliar situation, where the superficial aspects of everyday conversation give way to more thoughtful questioning and genuine analysis of this incredible ‘holiday’ experience.

Read the remainder of this entry »