Archive for the 'local partners' Category

caring for vulnerable children – Dianne & local partner Sarah share inspiring developments

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

This article is written jointly by Dianne Ashman, voluntary programme advisor for people and places and Sarah Corley, director of volunteer and student travel at AOA.  AOA is people and places’ local partner in Swaziland.

This is the story of six Neighbourhood Care Points (NCPs) in the Ezulwini Valley in Swaziland. NCPs were first started by UNICEF to provide support and care for children whose families were struggling with poverty and the effects of the HIV/AIDs epidemic. Their over-riding aim is to provide vulnerable children and orphans with the care and support they and their families need to enable them to continue to live within their community rather than being placed in an orphanage.

In 2012, when our story starts, these six NCPs, supported by AOA, were providing two meals a day for the children and very basic childcare.  They were staffed by women from the local community who tried to give the children some basic education but struggled because they had no resources and lacked any form of teacher training – some of them had not completed their own schooling.  AOA maintained the NCP buildings and volunteer groups painted the walls with educational materials such as the alphabet and numbers, but any teaching that did happen simply involved rote learning, with few opportunities for children to learn through play.  Although free primary education for all had recently been introduced in Swaziland the country lacked teachers and schools, so children were (and still are) interviewed at the age of 6 before being given a school place.  Many children from the NCPs were failing to pass this interview, so were being excluded from the education system from the very start . . . and so the cycle of poverty continued.

Now, in 2017, all children who are about to graduate from these six NCPs (102 children) have been awarded school places.  The schools report that they can no longer distinguish between children from the NCPs and those from more advantaged backgrounds.  What is more, the NCP teachers have received training so that they understand various teaching strategies they can employ to help their children learn, and have the confidence to try out various teaching methods through a structured programme of activities which covers the key learning areas of language, maths, art, science and discovery, and physical development.  The focus on holistic child development means feeding and health programmes now form a structured part of the development of these children, and parents are becoming engaged in their children’s learning.

2016 – how many children ? active maths 

2011 – no structured activities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What has brought about this transformation, and what has our role been in this?

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meet three teachers from Swaziland-could you share your skills with them?

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

this from Dianne, just back from working with the NCPs in Swaziland:

I would like to introduce you to three teachers from the Neighbourhood Care Points we support in Swaziland, working hard to give pre-school children the knowledge and skills they need to give them a good start at school. These teachers receive a small allowance but not a full salary – they work more or less as volunteers because they genuinely care about the children in their care. (more…)

Kenya – a return to familiar territory – this time, as volunteers !

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

The following extracts are from volunteer Kathy’s report following her 2 month placement at Gede House – a school for children with special needs.

My son, Joe, and I decided to volunteer for different projects in Kenya this year and we were lucky

Precious, Pauline (me) and Peris

enough to come across People and Places through our search for potential placements. Joe worked at Sita Community Snake Farm on a conservation placement and I volunteered at Gede Special School. The whole process and experience was very well supported and organised with friendly, professional and personal one to one guidance. For me, as a teacher, it was important to know that we were being ‘screened’ appropriately and that we were expected to go through a proper application procedure, complete with references and disclosure checks. Not only did this reassure me of the organisation’s ethics but also gave me a genuine sense of trust and confidence that the projects would match up to expectations and would suit our individual skills and vocational interests.

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Dianne reports on her recent visit to our education and community volunteer programme near Kruger, South Africa

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

I have recently returned from a visit to the project we support at Hazyview, run by our local partners Good Work Foundation.  They have been developing a revolutionary model of learning for rural Africa – Digital Learning Campuses, designed to bring children and young adults from rural areas into the 21st century by showing them how to access to the world’s body of knowledge and opportunities available through digital technology.

I was last at the Hazyview Digital Learning Centre in 2015 . . . and what massive strides forward have been made since then!  I was impressed with what I saw then – about 1500 grade 4 children from eight rural schools in the province of Mpumalanga coming to the Centre once a week to learn how to use computers and to work on apps designed to support their English and Maths in HDLC’s Open Learning Academy, and up to 300 young adults a year graduating from the Careers, Skills and Training Academies designed to give young people skills in the ‘languages of access’, ICT and English, and the opportunity to take this further with career-based courses geared towards employment prospects in the local area.

Now, only two years later, Hazyview Digital Learning Centre is the hub at the centre of further ‘satellite’ centres – the first two, in the rural villages of Justicia and Huntingdon, are open and fully functioning, and the remaining two, at Dumphries and Lillydale will open in 2018.

Huntingdon DLC

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Cambodia – a volunteer stresses the importance of flexibility

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

people and places’ volunteers have so many skills and experiences to share with local communities – the following from Stephanie, an American social worker with a particular interest in nutrition.

I had an incredibly wonderful experience with Treak Community Centre . I enjoyed my time immensely and was able to quickly integrate into their work in the community! The staff members at  Treak Community Centre were very supportive, kind and welcoming.

Stephanie with local staff, Dara & Pechey

During my time there, I assisted the head teacher with English classes, completed interviews regarding housing and education in the local community, and developed the framework for a nutrition program. I felt I could openly express my thoughts to local project staff members.

I believe the nutrition education program could continue to be developed and implemented within the school. The work I completed merely provided a beginning framework.

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a chance to meet project leaders and other volunteers

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

November 4th 12.00 to 17.00

Put it in your diaries – more news in a few weeks time.

Saturday 4th November

Come and meet previous, present and co volunteers – and some of our local partners – as well as the people and places team.

A chance to learn more if you plan to volunteer – and a chance to meet old friends if you are a previous volunteer.

We have not confirmed our location yet – and we appreciate that this is important! but we wanted you to get the date in your diaries (we know you are busy people!) as soon as possible.

 

volunteer in Nepal – new projects and an old friend

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

We are working in Nepal again!

As many of you know we stopped working in Nepal a few years ago – firstly because of the legal issues of volunteers needing ( almost impossible to obtain ) work permits – and then post the devastation of the earthquake we felt it was inappropriate to send volunteers

Well HOORAY we can now announce that we are working again in Nepal.

Our programme causes no problem with work permits because all our volunteers are self funding skills-share volunteers

So take a look at the projects we are working with in Nepal

Education Support

Nursery school support

Business Skills

Business support in Patan

Child development in rural Nepal

Nursery support in Kathmandu 

Community Support

 

 

 

Paul was – a gladiator – a huge force for good

Friday, April 21st, 2017

It has taken me some time to put pen to paper – well digit to keyboard –  to write about the horrible loss of my friend and our partner, Paul Miedema.

My first reaction was to write about the loss – huge loss – for his family and friends and colleagues at Calabash; the communities they work with; volunteers; and indeed to me as a friend and people and places as a partner – but I wasn’t comfortable with writing that way –  it took me a while to work out why.

 

Paul was – a gladiator – a huge force for good – a passionate advocate for the people he worked with – confrontational – an inspiration.

For me he was a loyal friend – a teacher – a partner – a mentor.

That’s what I want to remember – what I gained by knowing him – not what I have lost.

When Harold, Kate and I decided we wanted to develop a responsible volunteering programme Harold told me that all his experience in responsible travel led him to believe that Paul Miedema at Calabash had to be one of our first partners. I was quickly convinced……Paul wasn’t….. (more…)

Paul was always my role model….

Friday, April 21st, 2017

by Dianne

The partnership between people and places and Calabash was already well established by the time I

Dianne with Joe Slovo principal Mr. Gqunta -on her most recent visit

came onto the people and places team and one of the first visits I made in my role as education advisor was to Port Elizabeth.  Paul and I worked well together from the very start and it was immediately apparent how much Paul cared about our partnership work at the different township schools and at Emmanuel, and how committed he was to using volunteering and tourism as a force for good.

 
Paul was always my role model for what a local partner should be.  Whenever I have visited other countries to help set up new partnerships I have found myself using descriptions of the way Paul worked as examples of good practice.  Even when I was asking him to do potentially boring administrative work for us, such as updating our support plans for the projects or chasing questionnaires from the schools, he totally understood the reasons for doing such tasks.  With Paul, I feel we had a genuine partnership, all of us on the same wave-length, with each of us contributing our knowledge and ideas to the work we were doing together.

Every volunteer I have met who has volunteered in Port Elizabeth, at Emmanuel or on the Schools Support programme, has spoken very highly of the support they received from Paul and the Calabash team.  They certainly set high standards for others to live up to!  I hope Paul realised how very much he was loved and respected.

It is so hard to believe that Paul is no longer here, but I look forward to continuing to work with our partners at Calabash as we continue his work.

The way Paul conducted weekly meetings so impressed me

 

Paul defined the word “authentic”

Friday, April 21st, 2017

a weekly meeting at A V Bukani School

Paul Miedema changed our lives. It is through Paul that we connected with the A.V. Bukani Primary School community, a wonderful place we now consider our second home.

But Paul did more than connect us – he was our support, our mentor, our ally, and our friend. Just a few weeks ago, we had a long conversation with Paul about a possible sixth volunteer trip to Nomathomsanqa.

 

Paul defined the word “authentic.” He had no tolerance for BS and never sugar-coated anything. And that is why we absolutely trusted him. We knew he would tell us the truth. How often do you have someone in your life that you can trust like that?

Paul was devoted to two things – his daughters and his country. And they were closely tied together. He worked tireless to build a strong South Africa that he could leave for his children, and one that would support everyone’s children because he knew you could not separate the two. A strong South Africa had to promote respect for every person of every background or it would not be a strong country.

Paul is one of those people who truly made a difference in his daily life. Our hearts are breaking that he cannot continue this work. And yet his legacy is the many colleagues he supported within and beyond Calabash, as well as the many volunteers whose eyes he opened and whose hearts he inspired.

You will be missed Paul. Thank you for all you gave to us and everyone around you.

Eileen and Larry

(frequent volunteers with A.V.Bukani School since 2009)

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