LOVE this news about successful volunteers’ skills-share and achievements in Chitardai primary school in India. Dianne regularly re-visits projects and local partners to assess achievements and future needs … this just in:

“Now I am about to leave Chitardai, I just want to say how pleased I am both with the level of support given to the current volunteers by the teachers at Chitardai and with the quality of their teaching and focus on the job, both of which are much improved from when I was last here.

current volunteers, Yvonne & Sue at the Mahal

current volunteers, Yvonne & Sue at the Mahal

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Volunteers Susie and Chris have been working with ASSET in The Gambia since the end of October – dealing with the inevitable challenges of any volunteer placement … but their hard work and dedication is most definitely paying off and appreciated !

This from our local partner, Tejan, today:

“I want to say that Susie & Chris have done a good job during their short stay with us. They have gone beyond their terms of reference both in terms of time spent, use of personal resources among others.
One most important qualities that I find in them is openness, sense of humour and friendliness which made them adopt to the Gambian society so quickly. 

project appreciation for the work of volunteers

project appreciation for the work of volunteers

Many thanks once more to Susie and Chris for the good work done, its well appreciated.”   

Sheikh Tejan Nyang , Head of School ,Institute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia

 

 

and here’s a link to news of one of the innovations where Susie and Chris have been instrumental: the ASSET Masquerade and Fanal Festival

 

Gee thanks and Happy Christmas to you BT Internet!

IMPORTANT note to all our volunteers and friends who have btinternet email addresses – there is currently a big problem surrounding BT and the service it uses to filter messages – and the vast majority of our emails to btinternet email adresses are being rejected.

Please make sure you add us to your safe sender list – and if you think you should have heard from us – please email – we are getting your emails just cant respond – with either another email address or a phone number.

heavy-sigh1

 

 

We have recieved notification that manyour volunteers and supporters have not recieved our latest newsletter due to this problem  – here is the link to the latest newsletter 

Well … “best-laid plans” and “circumstances beyond our control” combined to create an interesting volunteers’ get-together here in Faversham on 7th November!

We love our ‘people and places’ social meetings and had done as much prep as possible ahead of time so that we could enjoy our guests’ company and lots of time to talk with each other. Lists, signs and name badges had been printed off the day before; food and drinks had been purchased, and with volunteers due to arrive at 1pm, Dianne, Sallie and I (Kate) were enjoying a leisurely start to our day.

Kate

Kate

Dianne

Dianne

Sallie

Sallie

Our morning’s preparations were well-planned over coffee with final tasks allocated (planning and preparation are very important to us here at people and places, you know!) so we were feeling well and truly ready for a lovely afternoon … but then, at about 8a.m. the power went off. No worries – “this isn’t The Gambia”, we joked, “the power will be on again very soon” …

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We love hearing from families who want to travel and volunteer together – especially as we know that, to people in the projects and communities where we work, ‘FAMILY’ is so important !

Tim, Rosalind and Millie  came along to our November meeting here in Faversham to meet us and other volunteers as they begin to make plans for their family volunteer experience in 2017, and it was so good to meet each other!

Kate had something to say ...

Kate had something to say …

 

This from Tim: “We just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed meeting you, Harold, Sallie, Dianne, Nigel and all the volunteers. The whole session really brought to life our ideas for volunteering so we have much to think of over the next few months.”

and here’s a video of Tim, Rosalind and Millie talking with our very own Harold Goodwin.

Really looking forward to our working together !

Even as I write this, I can hear you saying “What? It’s not even Christmas yet, and you’re talking about April.”

Saturday 23rd April

Saturday 23rd April

 

Please bear with us, as there’s a very good reason: April 23rd will be our next volunteers’ get-together, and we know that your busy diaries fill up quickly after New Year, so we’re trying to beat the rush !

Lots of you know that we’ve been hosting November social meetings here in Faversham for years, but thanks to a previous volunteer’s generous offer to host a meeting for us, we’re now delighted to invite you all to our spring meeting – a different season and in a different place: Val’s home in Hemel Hempstead.
Everyone who’s attended any of our previous social meetings knows how useful it is to get together with other volunteers and talk about their experiences and the realities of volunteering overseas, and these informal occasions are always thoroughly enjoyable.

As previous volunteer Bob wrote:
“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 … so a potential ‘team’ identity was established.”

So, whether you’ve already volunteered with us or you’re thinking about the possibilities of volunteering in the future, you will be welcome to come along.

We’ll send full details early next year, but meanwhile, please let us know whether you will be planning to join us for a spring afternoon in Hemel Hempstead.

As you’ll understand, Val will need a good idea of how many people to expect, so please
email: kate@travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk – by 20th February. Thanks.

We look forward to another opportunity to meet and hope to hear from you soon!

In our summer newsletter, we floated the suggestion that volunteers in different parts of the UK may be interested in meeting other volunteers in their area … to which many of you responded, both speedily and positively. We know that informal and informative get-togethers are always popular, but our regular people and places meetings in Faversham are too far away for many people.

people and places

people and places

So, we did a little map-making project here in the office and we’re delighted to say that no less than 10 groups have already formed – not quite ‘from John o’Groats to Land’s End’ … but from the Scottish Lowlands to the Jurassic Coast is pretty good coverage!

 

With Christmas and the holiday season almost upon us, it’s unlikely that any of the groups will manage to meet until the New Year, but we’re looking forward to news. Maybe your group will arrange to meet in someone’s home, perhaps at a local tourist attraction, or at a convenient mid-point cafe or restaurant … the options are many and varied, but will give you opportunities to meet and chat with like minded people about volunteering, about your projects (and to catch up with more local news, of course!)

As this new network gathers pace, you may also want to invite an interested friend or colleague to join you … and when we have new volunteers who are interested in joining a local group, we’ll make sure we share relevant contact names and email addresses with them too. Something that occurred to us since we identified the various local groups, is that you may want us to update you with news from or about particular projects … so we asked ourselves how we could do that most effectively. We’ve come up with the following idea: if each group nominates one person as a primary point of contact, we could send recent volunteers’ reports in time for any meeting you may have planned for your group. All we need to know is the name of your nominated volunteer contact …

Finally, once you have a date for your local meeting, please let us know when and where you’ll be getting together …. and if you’d like to invite any of the people and places team to join you, we’d be delighted to come along if one of is in the area.

In November Sallie paid a flying visit to Bangkok to participate in an important child protection workshop.

Sallie far right( and Paul back row far left) attend child protection workshop

Sallie (far right) and Paul (back row far left) attend child protection workshop

(and our local partner Paul from Calabash Tours in Port Elizabeth was there – so an additional treat!)

Volunteering in orphanages is a hugely popular way for many to “give back” but child protection experts have been telling us for some years that there are many dangers in this well meaning practice. A whole “industry” – that would horrify well-meaning volunteers – has grown from this desire to work with orphans.

To learn more take a look at the links at the end of this post

We at people and places are passionate about child protection and we have listened and learnt a huge amount from child protection and child rights experts – so we have been advocating against volunteering in orphanages for a number of years.

We are therefore very pleased and proud to be involved with an initiative that seeks to highlight these issues and help a greater understanding of the issues involved.

The Better Volunteering Better Care Network is an initiative supported by Oak Foundation and the Human Dignity Foundation, and led by actors in the child protection sector, to better understand the issues associated with international volunteering in residential care centres –  aiming to  discourage international volunteering in residential care centres whilst promoting ethical volunteering alternatives supporting children and families.

 people and places were invited to participate in the network due to our internationally recognised role in campaigning for and managing responsible volunteer travel  – and our contribution to the debate on volunteering in residential care centres. Sallie is a member of the steering group

BVBCN

 

Much has been written on the potential harm caused by orphanage tourism

The Better Volunteering Better Care Network 

Better-Volunteering-Better-Care-research-and-articles

http://www.nextgenerationnepal.org/File/The-Paradox-of-Orphanage-Volunteering.pdf
UNICEF 
Orphanage tourism: Who are foreign volunteers actually helping?
‘Making mistakes with people’s lives’: the ethics of orphanages and voluntourism

Better Child Protection

for an example of volunteer programmes that work to keep children in families – a better alternative to orphanage volunteering in our opinion –  take a look here

If you would like to talk with us about this issue or learn about how you can volunteer to help keep children in families please do email

sallie@travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk


We are thrilled to announce that we are now working with a very special programme in South Africa.

Here is what Dianne wrote about it after her visit.

To learn more about how you could work here take a look here

2

Good Work Foundation, led by their CEO Kate Groch, have set up Digital Learning Centres in four different rural communities, with a fifth due to open next year. They believe that traditional education methods are failing people in rural communities, largely due to enormous class sizes and overcrowded, poorly resourced schools. Their aim is to set up ‘Centres of Excellence’ for these rural communities, leapfrogging traditional teaching methods and jumping straight into the digital age. Their digital learning centres provide education through computers, laptops, tablets, data projectors and interactive whiteboards, and more importantly teach how to use this technology, with the aim that their learners will be able, like everyone else in more privileged communities across the world, to access the enormous body of knowledge and expertise which is now so easily available to us all online.

3They work with two groups of learners. At Hazyview, their main centre and the place where our volunteers are likely to be based, about 1500 grade 4 children (aged about 10) come to the Centre for about an hour every week. They really look forward to coming – it was a pleasure to see children running to get to class. Through the use of carefully selected apps they learn English, Maths and some Science (focused on conservation), as well as learning how to use the computers. All teaching at the centre is in English, and this is also important as up to grade 3 children are taught in their own local language (in this area siSwati or Xitsonga) but in grade 4 teaching of all subjects goes into English, so this is a year where many children struggle and any additional exposure to English really helps them to manage at school.

The Centre has only been open for three years but the first school to send children to them has already recorded a massive 35% improvement in English scores in national tests. Their second group of learners is young adults. Many of them have completed grade 12 at school, but have little idea of what options are available to them next or of how they could go about achieving any ambitions they do have. At the Centre in a bridging year course they teach what they define as the ‘languages of access – digital and English’. Students study for the International Computer Driving Licence, an internationally recognised computer course which covers, among other things, the use of all branches of Microsoft Office. Their English studies follow a recognised South African adult learning course and focus on oral work as well as written. Within this course they learn skills such as how to present yourself at interview and how to write a good CV. They receive Careers guidance, both through formal lessons and on an individual basis, and at the end of the year, if they wish, they can continue to study at the Centre on courses specifically designed to provide employment opportunities in their local area. Tourism is one of the main employers, so there are courses in Hospitality, Media, Music, advanced IT and Conservation. I was privileged to attend one of their graduation ceremonies, as Sallie was last year, where about 60 students received their certificates and celebrated the successful completion of their courses. Their pride in their achievement, and their families’ pride in them, was palpable and the staff at the Centre were rightly proud of what they had achieved, giving these students not only internationally recognised qualifications but a belief in themselves and their ability to achieve whatever targets they set themselves in life.

Before I went I had researched GWF and my fear was that they are so well organised that they would have little need of any skills or expertise that we might offer. This is not the case – there’s lots we can contribute, ranging from people with teaching experience to help the facilitators develop their teaching skills (GWF ‘grow their own’ staff and few of them have formal teaching qualifications), to careers advisors, to people with business skills to help adult learners find possible areas for employment, and lots of other areas too – check out our website for specific details of what is needed here.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to GWF, both for the project itself but also because it was such a comfortable experience and set in such a lovely part4 of South Africa, the country recently voted the most beautiful in the world. Our local partners could not have been more welcoming and helpful, and they have a lovely house they rent for use of volunteers, so I loved having my own home for the two weeks I was there. Hazyview is within 10 minutes drive of a gateway into Kruger National Park. I went in twice, once with a group of school children as part of their conservation work (and although they live so close none of these children had been into the Park before), and once as a tourist at the weekend. Our local partners were able to get me a cheap seat with an established game drive company, so for just the cost of entry to the Park (about £15) I had a 6 hour game drive with an experienced guide, and we were lucky enough to see 15 different species of animals, including all the Big Five, on the one drive. Those of you who know me well know how much I love cats, so it was wonderful to have a really good view of a leopard sheltering in the shade of a rock and a lion so chilled out it was more or less sleeping in the road.
Do think about offering your skills and expertise to volunteer on this project – they would be delighted to have you and I know the right volunteers could do a lot to help them move forward on this really worthwhile project – and you would have a great time as well.

Written by Dianne our volunteer programme advisor ( and retired teacher ). 

Dianne

Dianne

Are you a primary school or pre-school teacher, or classroom assistant?  Maybe you help in a local primary school or pre school group. 

If so, and if you are considering doing some volunteering during 2016, please read on to find out more about this project.

During September I went to volunteer with our project in Swaziland, to work with our local partners at the six Neighbourhood Care Points (NCPs) they support.  NCPs are run by a number of organisations in Swaziland – they provide a caring environment, including food, for children orphaned or made vulnerable by the HIV/AIDs epidemic, and essential support for their families.  Educationally the aim is to give these children the right grounding to enable them to start formal schooling successfully at age 7 – although Swaziland is working towards free primary education for all there is still an expectation that children should be able to recite the alphabet and do simple writing and adding up before they are allowed to start school.

 

A Care Point

A Care Point

The NCPs are very basic structures – just simple structures providing some indoor space for teaching, a covered cooking area, a basic outdoor play area and simple sanitation requirements.  The ladies who work there, both as teachers and as cooking ladies, come from their local community and are committed to helping to improve the lives of the children who attend.  Most of the teachers have had little or no training and they receive no salary; they do eat dinner with the children and are given the odd celebratory meal, but I felt this was a real mark of their commitment to their work – I cannot think of a single teacher here in the UK who would do their job for no payment other than free school dinners and the Christmas party!  They were desperate for any suggestions I could give for different ways of teaching the children – although formal work at the NCPs is only in the mornings, they were begging me to stay after school to run workshops and willingly travelled into town from their isolated rural communities so we could all meet together.

At the NCPs there are very few resources other than those brought by previous volunteers and the teachers have little idea of how to use these effectively.   The classroom walls have been painted by young volunteer groups with educational materials such as numbers, the alphabet and the days of the week, and teaching up to now has involved little more than teaching the children to chant the information from the walls.  Children are provided with quite a lot of time for free play, but there are few toys and no concept of guided play.

Although the teachers are very aware that they should be giving the children opportunity to do creative and imaginative work they have little experience of how to do this.  They are desperate for ideas!

Lobamba NCP

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