It’s nearly the end of September … and a mere 6 weeks until our 2015 ‘at home’ meeting on Saturday 7th November.

Our invitation has already been accepted by volunteers who have worked in South Africa, The Gambia, India, Cambodia, Nepal and Peru  … and Dianne will be here, of course, having recently returned from visiting projects in Swaziland and South Africa …

We’re also hoping that some of our overseas partners may be able to join us, as many of them will be in the UK for the annual World Travel Market in London. in it together

So, if you’re thinking about volunteering at some point in the future, or if you’re already making plans, this is a great opportunity for you to come along and talk with people who’ve already “been there, done it ( and  not “got the T-shirt”we don’t do T- Shirts!) …


We all LOVE these occasions and can promise you a thoroughly informative and sociable afternoon: find out more about the projects; meet some of our local partners; talk with other volunteers; 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 the people and places team: Kate, Sallie, Dianne, Nigel and Harold …

Our Faversham ‘at home’ meetings are always popular, so please let us know as soon as possible if you would like to come, and if you will be alone or with friends and family!

email by 10th October at the latest … we need to plan our catering!

WHEN: Saturday, 7th November – 1 to 5 p.m.

WHERE: head office – 1 Naboth’s Nursery, Canterbury Road, Faversham, Kent ME13 8AX (Kate’s Home!)

PROGRAMME: 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.

“I attended a volunteers’ social event in Faversham in November 2014 and spoke to people who had worked at both projects. I also met Sonia, another volunteer who would be working in the same project and living in the same homestay. It was great to get to know each other before we started our placements.”  volunteer Abbey, 2015

“Please count me in. It will be great to see you and other volunteers and have an opportunity to hear about other’s experiences as well as get a chance to share some of my own.” volunteer Sonia, 2015

You bet I’ll come !!! Can’t wait to catch up and talk to all these interesting people xxxvolunteer Anke, 2013 & 2014

It’s really important to us that each volunteer placement is a good match between what the project needs and what the volunteer brings … that’s the starting point for people to gain mutual rewards from their time together.

volunteers with Principal Thambo and Ace Lamani celebrating together

Volunteers Eileen and Larry made their first volunteer trip to A.V.Bukani School in 2008 … and have just returned from their FIFTH  volunteer trip in this rural South African school.

teaching skills-share

Eileen and Larry’s original placements focussed on improving literacy for learners through skills-share with local educators … bit by bit and little by little, things have developed … music, a school and community library, parent-teacher meetings, home-support for learners …

Mofu family

The following two quotes give you an idea the mutual rewards involved:

I am the product of what you have brought here since 2008 … you taught me the strategies I needed so I could learn.” a Grade 7 student to volunteers Eileen & Larry

“This … opened our eyes to the impact our work has had. And inspired us to continue. Yes, there are still challenges and we need to take the long view. But we can revel in a celebration of what these students have gained in confidence, knowledge, and skills. We could not be prouder of them.” volunteers Eileen & Larry as their 5th placements ended

And you can read the full story of Eileen & Larry’s 2015 placements here.

“Ubuntu – I am what I am because of who we all are”

Travelocity has re-launched its Travel For Good programme of grants, offering 3 lucky winners the opportunity to travel and volunteer, also promising to donate an amazing $10,000 to a charity of the winners’ choice …

it could be you

Just think what could be achieved for you, your project and your chosen charity …



“We’re sending three inspiring people on their dream voluntourism trips of a lifetime, and donating $10,000 to the charity of their choice.”

And YOU could be one of those lucky winners – give it a go !

We will do all we can to help you win if you volunteer with us!

For my latest trip for people and places I’ve been in South Africa, partly to make a return visit to Paul, our local partner in Port Elizabeth, but mainly to set up a fantastic new project at Hazyview, which is in the north east of the country, right on the edge of Kruger National Park.Dianne2

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Fabulous – latest news from volunteers Larry & Eileen, and their US colleagues, Randi and Ben -

a favourite photo !

all working in rural South Africa in A. V. Bukani School …

read the story of their time in their blog - a great story of mutual learning!

And read about the project here.

Today’s post is the perfect follow-on to our previous post about volunteers Robin and Jane … whose work in A V Bukani School is being built on and continued by Larry and Eileen …

You can read their blog here.

pass the baton

This shows real project continuity … which we tend to refer to as “passing the baton”.

We make sure previous and future volunteers, for the same project, are always put in touch with each other … a standard part of our matching, preparation and briefing process.


Great changes don’t happen overnight, but there are definite developments over the years, and this school is just one example of the projects where our volunteers are effectively working as part of a team, even when months and miles away from each other in their volunteer placement and home lives !

Keep up the good work, everyone!

farewell to volunteer Robin

By Sallie | Filed in volunteer stories | No comments yet.

Sometimes life throws a real curve ball at us.

No rhyme or reason – and certainly no fairness.

We have recently heard of the sudden death ( due to a lightening strike) of Robin Meakingsrobin


A few years ago we met Robin and Jane- his partner – they had recently met and were planning an adventure together. Both had taken sabbaticals from their work Robin as a teacher,Jane a businesswoman- they were going on a grand trip – but wanted to give something back as they travelled – thats how we met them.

Robin and Jane volunteered with us at AV Bukani school in South Africa

here are a couple of links to  video interviews that Robin and Jane did for us

Robin and Jane talk about search for good volunteer organisations 

Volunteering meant we werent ordinary tourists

Thankyou Robin ( and Jane ) for your work

“We worked mainly in the computer suite at the school, with the aim of helping the teachers, and therefore the learners too, get more out of the educational software (CAMI). This involved training sessions with the teachers (a model lesson using the software, and a session on obtain reports on learners’ progress). We also corrected the learner database to allow each teacher to get accurate reports about the progress of the learners in their class. In addition three database administrators were given training on how to administer the database, to keep it correct and up to date. We also gave training sessions, both formal and informal, covering Microsoft Word, for example creating classroom resources, and Excel, for example creating marking sheets to calculate percentage scores and grade for each student.

Robin also helped the grade 4 Technology teacher create a scheme of work for the Systems and Control module, and delivered some of the lessons with her. (This involved creating and racing cardboard buggies, a practical activity which the children much enjoyed.)

this is a quote that Jane read at Robin’s recent funeral

“As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on – in the memories of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here… Death ends a life, not a relationship.”

farewell and travel well Robin – all of us at people and places calabash and AV Bukani say  - thankyou

astonishing … just as we clicked ‘publish’ on our previous post about “orphanage volunteering … we received the following enquiry about a placement:

“Citizenship: United States
Category: Volunteer Abroad
Term: Winter
Age: 34
Desired Program: Orphanages
Duration: 2 weeks max this winter”

heavy sigh

We responded politely and fully, explaining why this is a BAD IDEA … Here are some of the links we sent:

orphanage volunteering – the issues

Cambodia campaign site

Better Volunteering on FaceBook

Better Child Protection on FaceBook


but some organisation will no doubt be pleased to take this volunteer’s money and place them somewhere inappropriate … :(

and we just want to say thankyou

and what better way than this –  some wise words and our favourite photo (courtesy of  The Kugler Family)

Crpped birthdayhug



Nigel has been volunteering with us, using his practical skills, for 8 years! Here is his story … by him … 

and yes you may have spotted … 

MNigel is also editor of our volunteer newsletter


South Africa 2007

I first volunteered with people and places in Mapoch a rural village in South Africa during August 2007 where I helped set up a bicycle project.

This was the first time I had volunteered abroad; I read about people and places in a newspaper article and thought I would give them a try. After speaking to Kate Stefanko the placement director I was very impressed with the way people and places went about their business, all of my questions were answered and I felt confident that Mapoch was the right place for me to volunteer.

I was especially impressed by fact that I knew where my money would be going, that I would have a say in what my project donation would be used for and that I didn’t have to pay any money up front until my placement was confirmed, none of this “oh well if you make a deposit of £130 we can reserve you a place on the project, as it is filling up quickly” and trust me I have heard this from other companies!

“The secret of volunteering is to find the right company, ask loads of questions such as where my money goes. Does the local community want me there and am I doing what they want, am I doing a job that could be done by a local (no point being there if it could) and any responsible company will insist on a DBS check as in most circumstances you will come into contact with children, I need it in my job as a school site manager in England so why wouldn’t I need it abroad!”


To say I was nervous about going to South Africa on my own is an understatement! But it all worked out OK and we managed to introduce bicycles in to an economically poor community with little access to their own transport. I helped build a prototype cycle trailer with village elder Peter which a villager David started to use for his delivery business, we turned  Peter`s veggie shop into a cycle sales and repair shop and we eventually had a container of 321 second-hand bicycles shipped from Re-Cycle in England to Mapoch.


click read more to learn about my time in the gambia and Peru – VERY different experiences!

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