a great volunteer story from South Africa

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By Kate Stefanko | Filed in volunteer stories | One comment

Finnish volunteer, Roosa, is a professional in the art of graphic design. She worked for 6 weeks with the  ‘media team’ in Hazyview Digital Learning Campus – and my goodness, her work was hugely appreciated!

“Even with years and years of experience in graphic design, when you ask Roosa if she will be able to help in that field she always replies saying: ‘I will try.’
And then delivers a masterpiece.”

a photoshop session with volunteer Roosa

a photoshop session with volunteer Roosa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read the remainder of this entry »

DSCN7987I have recently returned from a really satisfying and encouraging trip to India.  I went to visit the school where our volunteers work, Chitardai Upper Primary School, in Rajasthan.  I have volunteered at Chitardai twice myself, in 2010 and 2011, working with the English teacher in his lessons and helping all the teachers to develop their school motto ‘Learn Through Play’ by showing them a number of techniques for active learning – I must confess it’s my favourite of the places where I have volunteered.  Other volunteers have taken a similar approach: bringing books, games and a variety of other resources to show the children (and teachers) that learning English can be fun!  Like all of us who volunteer, I have sometimes questioned whether the resources I took to Chitardai were really relevant and useful to them, and whether the teaching techniques I demonstrated to the teachers would ever be used when I returned to the UK.  So it was fantastic to see on this trip that some of the teaching strategies and resources taken to the school by me and other people and places volunteers are now embedded in the school.  Some examples . . .  Read the remainder of this entry »

CIMG1233April 23rd 2016 . . . St George’s Day, Earth Day, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death . . . and, most importantly of course, the day we held our latest volunteer social!  This time we met at volunteer Val’s home near Hemel Hempstead, the weather was kind to us, and we all enjoyed a lovely sociable afternoon catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.  There was a good mix of previous volunteers who could tell us about their placements in a variety of different countries and potential volunteers who wanted to find out all about how people and places works and were keen to learn more about the places where they might volunteer soon.  We try to find venues for our socials in different parts of the country to give everyone the chance now and then to come to a social not too far from home, but some volunteers had made the effort to travel quite a long way to this one, and we must make special mention of the new volunteer who flew in all the way from Donegal!

It is interesting that at some socials the focus seems to be, quite by chance, on the projects in just one or two of the countries where we volunteer.  At last November’s social there happened to be a lot of volunteers who had either just returned from or were just about to go to South Africa, and our different projects there dominated the conversation.  This time the flavour of the month was definitely Cambodia, with new volunteers in particular wanting to know all about the volunteering opportunities there.  They will of course need to go through the matching process to make sure their skills and experience match the needs of the projects there, but it certainly looks as though Cambodia can expect several new people and places volunteers later this year!  You can read more about our volunteering opportunities in Cambodia by clicking here and here.

Thank you once again to Val for hosting this social in her lovely home – we hope your family enjoyed eating up the left-over food!  Our socials are always such an enjoyable way to catch up with each other’s news, and we hope to see many of you again at our next social later in the year.

Watch the latest volunteer interview videos taken at this social here

Watch volunteer Robert talk about why and how he has chosen to volunteer with people and places and how important the volunteer social was in this decision.

 

It’s so exciting: a new local partner and project near Kruger National Park … about to welcome NEW volunteers! The latest addition to our programme is about to welcome their very first ‘people and places’ volunteers.

Ray and Catriona recently took early retirement from full-time work in training and mentoring, as well as business and hospitality management … so, what better match for their placements than in the amazing Hazyview Learning Centre in South Africa?

enthusiastic young adult learners

enthusiastic young adult learners

Needless to say, Ray and Catriona know perfectly well that they are the first ‘people and places’ volunteers to work in this project, and although their placement outlines provide clear areas of input for their work, both are approaching their placements with a very real willingness to be adaptable and flexible … as well as excited anticipation.

Ray will be helping in the conservation academy, working with the staff as well as with 2nd-year students going into Kruger National Park as part of the ‘wildlife conservation’ course.

Catriona’s primary focus will make use of her expertise in the hospitality industry, working with staff and students in the ‘hospitality’ course, as well as assisting in career planning and guidance.

And we’re already working with the next volunteers to whom Ray and Catriona will ‘pass the baton’!

 

from one volunteer to the next

from one volunteer to the next

So – “watch this space”, as the saying goes … there will be updates about their placements in our next newsletter, as well as any interim posts in our blog

Gosh – where to begin ? Best to let Sonia tell you something of her six months in the townships of Port Elizabeth, where her work involved counselling in both Emmanuel Advice and Care Centre and in Emafini School, which is one of a cluster of township schools supported through the education development programme.

So, in her own words, here are some extracts from Sonia’s blog and volunteer report. Read the remainder of this entry »

Yes, I know – November’s a long way off, and you’ve only just read Dianne’s report about this month’s social meeting near Hemel Hempstead …

But we also know that everyone’s diaries seem to get busier all the time, so we wanted to give you early notification in the hope that many of you will be able to come along to our volunteers’ social meeting here at ‘head office’ (aka Kate’s home!) in November.

The usual 1-5 p.m format – plenty of time to chat and share news of the projects and volunteers’ experiences, as well as meeting new friends and making plans for the future!

We’ll send out further details later in the year …

Meanwhile please email Kate if you’d like to put your name on the guest list !

If you have told us that you would like to be put in touch with other people and places volunteers who live not too far away from you, you should by now have received a contact list of email addresses for volunteers in your area.

We have always encouraged a new volunteer on a particular project to make contact with others who have volunteered there before as a good way of getting to know about that project.  However, meeting with other volunteers who live near you should enable you to find out about people’s experiences at a variety of projects in many different countries.

people and places network

people and places network

Hopefully some of you have already taken the opportunity to meet up with each other.

If you would like us to publicise group meetings in our newsletter or to share any photos or news, please do let us know.

It’s 10 years since we placed our first volunteer!     10

There’s a “curse” that many erroneously believe is Chinese –

“May you live in interesting times.”

There is a wonderful Xhosa word – “Ubuntu” – which has no direct translation into English but portrays the qualities of humanity and compassion – ‘I am because you are’.

Well, boy-oh-boy, have the last 10 years been interesting times for people and places – successes to celebrate  and challenges to overcome – boy, have we been blessed by Ubuntu!

We were going to write some clever 10 point lists (apparently people are more likely to read lists!) – but Read the remainder of this entry »

Kate Stefanko interviewed by BBC1’s “Fake Britain” – about 35 minutes into the programme

The programme was first aired in May 2014 and repeated again this morning … sadly, so much of the content is still relevant … and not only in Cambodia.

The cruel scams of ‘orphanage volunteering’ are exposed – cruel to children & scamming naive & well-meaning volunteers !

at people and places we support organisations and projects which focus on keeping children in families

check out childsafe  and Better Care Network

'orphanage volunteering' - please don't do it !

‘orphanage volunteering’ – please don’t do it !

–  please do your research and don’t allow yourselves to be scammed by fake orphanages !

children belong in families – not in institutions

“Highly skilled people … are looking for career break activities” writes Matthew Jenkin in today’s Guardian newspaper.

At ‘people and places‘, we know that each volunteer has valuable skills to share – whatever their age. The key is to put the right people in the right places, and that’s something we work hard to achieve.

As Sallie says in The Guardian article: “… older volunteers can bring huge value … they are generally more patient and better prepared for voluntary work, not only professionally but also culturally.”

 

South Africa - school outing with volunteer Shan

South Africa – school outing with volunteer Shan

India - teacher training with volunteer Dianne

India – teacher training with volunteer Dianne