Nigel has been volunteering with us, using his practical skills for 8 years! Here is is story….by him …
and yes you may have spotted -
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 economicaly 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!