new projects in Cambodia

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By Dianne Ashman | Filed in newsletters, project news | No comments yet.

New projects in Cambodia are on our website.  Take a look and see which project interests you in volunteering here.

Siem Reap, with its close proximity to the World Heritage temples at Angkor Wat, is a popular destination for volunteers.  The projects we currently support there are two community centres, both doing fantastic work at providing education, training and community support for some of the poorest villages around Siem Reap.  They provide worthwhile and enjoyable placements for volunteers who have the expertise to support teachers and childcare workers.  However not all volunteers want to work with children or have the required skills and experience to do so!  So we have now added projects focused on business and on health and social care to our portfolio in Cambodia. Read the remainder of this entry »

I am hoping some of you can help me.  I have started going into schools to give talks to sixth form students about how to choose good volunteering projects for their gap year or student travels.  There are many calling-all-teachersgood and worthwhile projects to choose from (including those offered by people and places of course!) but there are also many pitfalls to avoid, and most students are unaware that volunteering opportunities that sound great may be very different in reality.  My talk involves getting students to think critically about different types of volunteering experiences, looking for possible pitfalls and working out what questions they should ask to avoid them.  I want to encourage them to volunteer, not put them off, so we also consider what good and worthwhile volunteering experiences might look like.  The aim is to give students questions to ask so that any volunteering they do is of value not only to themselves but also to the projects where they work.

The schools I have gone into so far have all been very appreciative of the talks I have given – some of their feedback comments are given below.  However I am finding that I can only easily get into schools where I have a personal connection . . . and I’ve now run out of schools to go to!  I believe these are important issues that all students should be aware of and I would like to get into more schools to spread the message.  So I am wondering whether any of you would be able to introduce me to schools or colleges where you have connections.  I am willing to travel to schools and colleges in the UK to give the talk for free – it lasts an hour and fits most easily into a school’s general studies or critical thinking programme.  If you are able to help please email me – dianne@travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk.  Thank you for your help. Here’s a flyer for my presentation  schools-presentation-title-slide-people-and-places

‘Dianne’s talk was fascinating.  It offered a very complete picture of the highs (and lows!) of volunteering abroad, with a sting in the tale which was revelatory for the Sixth Form audience.  Dianne was very frank about the pitfalls that are all too easy to fall into – dodgy orphanages and unscrupulous charity packages that rob both volunteers and the communities – and she also outlined how to recognise good volunteering experiences that are beneficial to both sides.  The talk encouraged students to be critical and reflective.  Recommended.’  (Head of Sixth Form)

‘The talk was helpful.  The talk alerted me to things I didn’t know before.  I had no idea that some situations can be fabricated for the ‘benefit’ of volunteers.  It was shocking but incredibly useful.’  (Eliza, year 13 student)

‘The talk was very interesting.  It really helped me see how good gap year volunteering could be for me and for the country I went to IF I prepared and thought about what the country needed and what I could do best.’ (Simon, year 13 student)

‘Although I’m not interested in volunteering at this stage, I now realise how careful you have to be.  It’s too easy to be tricked into thinking that what you’re seeing is the real thing.  A gap year like this is expensive.  I’d want to make sure my money is going into something useful.’  (Bethan, year 13 student)

 

 

WOW – each year, the World Travel Market offers fabulous opportunities for us to met up with partners, colleagues and friends from around the world … November 2016 was no exception. Pictured here, raising our glasses to our friendships and each other’s work in responsible travel are: Najeeb Khan (Pakistan), Yashin Dujon (Belize), Harold Goodwin (people and places), Glynn O’Leary (South Africa), Adama Bah (The Gambia), Gillian O’Leary (South Africa), Kate Stefanko (people and places) …

international friends & colleagues

international friends & colleagues

 

 

 

 

 

img_0432

and also, Crista Buznea (Romania)

As you can no doubt imagine, conversation was wide-ranging, fascinating and sometimes challenging … yes, of course we talked about volunteering & volunteers, but a whole lot more as well … we love our work & relationships at ‘people and places‘.

PS – Sallie was there too – but late for the photos!

Unfortunately, we had to cancel our November volunteers’ social meeting … but fortunately we were able to let everyone know in good time sorry… not with a sky-writer, but with a ‘sorry’ email.

Fear not – there are plans afoot for another social get-together in late spring, hopefully, in a more readily accessible location than the south-eastern corner of England ! Volunteers – previous and future – will be able to chat about their experiences, and the people and places team will have updates and project news to share with everyone.

So, watch this space for an invitation to follow after the Christmas break 🙂

Saint Lucia – a volunteer story

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By Kate Stefanko | Filed in newsletters, volunteer stories | No comments yet.

Volunteer Amanda has been in Saint Lucia since mid-October, working in C.A.R.E. (Centre for Adolescent Renewal and Education) with work-related training for young people.

Amanda has been embracing all aspects of her time in Saint Lucia – from organising workshops and sharing her skills with local staff, to enjoying all that the island offers during her time off !

Here are some extracts from her story, so far …

Arrival 
Well this is a first…blogging and St Lucia that is…It’s 3am and I’m wide awake, thinking about my first day here which started when I landed at 1.30pm yesterday.
I was met at the airport and driven to my new home from home – passing cocoa trees, grapefruit trees, banana plantations, a local guy selling crabs on the roadside. It’s beautifully luscious and green here. The rich countryside, colourful houses dotted in the hills, kids immaculately presented in their school uniforms, colourful roadside shacks selling creole bread and fruits. …

sunset at Rodney Bay

sunset at Rodney Bay

Rodney Bay is on my doorstep and the beach is literally across the road. … Read the remainder of this entry »

people and places was founded to make volunteering a better experience for volunteers and the communities they work with – we decided the best way to campaign for better was through example.

We believe in the power of well matched and well prepared volunteers – we believe the overwhelming majority of people want to do good….but we also see the damage being done in communities where poorly thought out, managed and monitored programmes are being run. We believe volunteers and the communities they seek to serve are often exploited – and they deserve BETTER.

Our plan was always to campaign FOR not AGAINST

but

….and it’s a big but….. Read the remainder of this entry »

In November, we received sad news about volunteer Dudley who had worked with his wife, Carole, in a Port Elizabeth school this year.

Carole sent us the following message: “We had a short service for family and a few very close friends followed by a celebration of life ceremony in our village … and we were able to remember Dudley’s life and achievements in a very fitting way. We suggested that donations in his memory could be made for the school and we will be in touch with Paul about this in due course.”

 

 

 

 

And here’s a lovely portrait of Dudley on Scafell Pike, celebrating life.Dudley

 

 

 

Thank you, Dudley and Carole, for your valued and valuable work.

Kate and the ‘people and places’ team

We all enjoy our volunteers’ social meetings – a lot – and November meetings are especially popular because one or more of our local partners is usually here in the UK and are able to come along and join us. This year, we’re delighted to announce that both Adama Bah from The Gambia and Michael Horton from Cambodia will be here in Faversham!

Adama Bah

Adama Bah

Michael Horton - Cambodia

Michael Horton

Date & Time: Saturday 12th November – 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Our invitation is to ALL volunteers – previous and future – why not come along and meet Adama & Michael, as well as the  ‘people and places‘  UK team.

Please let us know A.S.A.P. if you plan to come too, as we have rather limited space here at ‘head office’ (i.e. Kate’s home!)

Just email Kate – kate@travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk – to book your place !

Looking forward to meeting many volunteers, both ‘new’ and ‘old’ (!)

CAMBODIA – PROJECTS NEW AND OLD FRIENDS 

Dianne

Dianne

by Dianne Ashman, volunteer programme advisor

As I write this article I am right at the end of my latest trip, to visit our projects in Cambodia.  I was last here in 2011 working with Michael, founder of ConCERT who are our local partners here.  On the ‘tips for volunteers’ sheet Michael and I compiled in 2011 he asked that volunteers bring a jar of Marmite with them as he and his family love it and it’s hard to get hold of here, so on my arrival at Siem Reap airport I was not at all surprised to see someone holding up a large sign saying

GOT ANY MARMITE?

Read the remainder of this entry »

TO CAMPAIGN OR NOT TO CAMPAIGN – WHY I HAVE DECIDED TO GET INVOLVED

Dianne

Dianne

by volunteer programme advisor Dianne Ashman

As you will know, there are two connecting strands to the work

people and places does.  We send volunteers on placements where their skills and experience have been carefully matched to local needs, and we campaign for responsible practice in volunteer tourism – and both these categories have been reflected in awards people and places have won, for Best Volunteer Organisation and

Best for Responsible Tourism Campaigning.

Up until now I have preferred to focus my time and energy on the volunteering side of things, helping our local partners identify needs and helping to prepare volunteers to do their bit to meet these needs.  I have not wanted to get involved in the campaigning side of our work as I am personally uncomfortable with the rather negative and critical connotations of some forms of campaigning (not necessarily ours) and I prefer to focus on the positives of trying to make our volunteer placements as successful as possible for all concerned.  However I have always taken an interest in the issues raised through our campaigning, particularly those involving children and child protection.  I have therefore followed with interest all the publicity around the negative impact of volunteers working in, and foreigners supporting, children in orphanages.  One of the articles published as part of a recent ‘blogging blitz’ on the dangers of orphanage tourism really made me think.  The writer of the article was talking specifically about student volunteers going to orphanages as part of a gap year experience, and he made the point that we are wrong to criticise these young people for taking part in a misguided form of volunteering because we have never taught them that it’s an inappropriate thing to do.  As a teacher that really struck a chord, and fits in exactly with my views – I don’t want to criticise bad practice but I do want to raise awareness about what some of the issues are and how to make good choices when volunteering or supporting people in developing countries.

 In fact, having once thought this, I now feel it would be irresponsible of me to know something about the issues and not to spread the word.

“The challenge is certainly not to stop supporting children in developing countries – the need has not decreased – but to make sure we are doing this in ways that genuinely help and are not designed simply to make us feel good – and that requires real thought.”

Read the remainder of this entry »