Archive for the 'project background' Category

why was April 23rd an important day?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

CIMG1233April 23rd 2016 . . . St George’s Day, Earth Day, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death . . . and, most importantly of course, the day we held our latest volunteer social!  This time we met at volunteer Val’s home near Hemel Hempstead, the weather was kind to us, and we all enjoyed a lovely sociable afternoon catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.  There was a good mix of previous volunteers who could tell us about their placements in a variety of different countries and potential volunteers who wanted to find out all about how people and places works and were keen to learn more about the places where they might volunteer soon.  We try to find venues for our socials in different parts of the country to give everyone the chance now and then to come to a social not too far from home, but some volunteers had made the effort to travel quite a long way to this one, and we must make special mention of the new volunteer who flew in all the way from Donegal!

It is interesting that at some socials the focus seems to be, quite by chance, on the projects in just one or two of the countries where we volunteer.  At last November’s social there happened to be a lot of volunteers who had either just returned from or were just about to go to South Africa, and our different projects there dominated the conversation.  This time the flavour of the month was definitely Cambodia, with new volunteers in particular wanting to know all about the volunteering opportunities there.  They will of course need to go through the matching process to make sure their skills and experience match the needs of the projects there, but it certainly looks as though Cambodia can expect several new people and places volunteers later this year!  You can read more about our volunteering opportunities in Cambodia by clicking here and here.

Thank you once again to Val for hosting this social in her lovely home – we hope your family enjoyed eating up the left-over food!  Our socials are always such an enjoyable way to catch up with each other’s news, and we hope to see many of you again at our next social later in the year.

Watch the latest volunteer interview videos taken at this social here

Watch volunteer Robert talk about why and how he has chosen to volunteer with people and places and how important the volunteer social was in this decision.

 

orphanage volunteering – there is a better way

Sunday, December 20th, 2015

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


volunteer in a learning centre close to Kruger National Park

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

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

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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.

do you have the skills and experience to volunteer with us in Swaziland ?- we need you!

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

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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Understanding the student demos in South Africa

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Sallie asked Paul Miedema – our local partner in South Africa which was the best news source to help us understand – this SA student demo (1)was his reply

Here is a good starting point Sallie . It has been a momentous week. Most of our universities are shut, and demonstrations decended on parliament today. Police have been brutal. Politicians who went to the demonstrations were told to leave. The message is clear. Accessible tertiary education for all. I will post some more tomorow. I am so proud that the spirit of socialism sits within our youth, and they are displaying agency. It might come at a high cost though, as exams loom and no end is in site yet.

http://m.news24.com/news24/Columnists/MaxduPreez/Protesting-students-need-our-support-20151020

‘ubuntu’ – the mutual rewards of volunteering !

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

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”

Dianne visits projects in Port Elizabeth and a new one at Kruger Park

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

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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continuity – education development & support in rural South Africa

Monday, August 24th, 2015

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!

volunteer meetings without Kate or Sallie – SHOCK! – you can do it too!

Friday, July 17th, 2015

By Dianne

dianne

Whenever we have a people and places social, people always comment on how well we all get on with each other and what a lovely group of people our volunteers are.  Last summer we held the social at my home in West Dorset, and this gave those of us who live in the south west an opportunity to get to know each other and to share contact details.  Since then, a number of us have met up socially, usually in twos or threes, sometimes at someone’s house but more often, as in this picture, at one of our favourite coffee shops.  We do talk about our volunteering experiences of course, but we find we have many other things in common and it’s really just a great chance to socialise with other like-minded people.

We are wondering whether those of you who live in other parts of the country would also like to be put in touch with other people and places volunteers who live in your area.

We would not, of course, share your contact details with other volunteers without your permission, but it may be that you too would like the chance to meet up with others who live near you to share your experiences and to socialise.  We would be happy to create a list of regional contact details for those of you who would like this, and I would be happy to facilitate a first meeting in local areas to get this off the ground.  If you would like us to share your contact details with others who live near you please either post a comment or email me at dianne@travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk.  I do hope some of you will take part in this – it’s a great way to make new friends!

PS our next volunteer social where Kate and Sallie will be present is detailed here – it’s in November, please let us know ASAP if you plan to come.

NEW Cambodia volunteer project

Friday, July 17th, 2015

Do you have any of the following skills? If so, we need you now on the latest project we are working with in a village close to the tourist hub of Siem ReapW

  • teaching
  • building trades, DIY, gardening enthusiasts
  • artists / drama / musicians (for workshops and to help include these into the English lessons where appropriate)
  • health care professionals – for a basic health and hygiene programme
  • sport coaches
  • marketing, fundraising, proposal writing

take a look at the project information, here