Archive for the 'project news' Category

NEW local partner, NEW project, NEW volunteers

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

It’s so exciting: a new local partner and project near Kruger National Park … about to welcome NEW volunteers! The latest addition to our programme is about to welcome their very first ‘people and places’ volunteers.

Ray and Catriona recently took early retirement from full-time work in training and mentoring, as well as business and hospitality management … so, what better match for their placements than in the amazing Hazyview Learning Centre in South Africa?

enthusiastic young adult learners

enthusiastic young adult learners

Needless to say, Ray and Catriona know perfectly well that they are the first ‘people and places’ volunteers to work in this project, and although their placement outlines provide clear areas of input for their work, both are approaching their placements with a very real willingness to be adaptable and flexible … as well as excited anticipation.

Ray will be helping in the conservation academy, working with the staff as well as with 2nd-year students going into Kruger National Park as part of the ‘wildlife conservation’ course.

Catriona’s primary focus will make use of her expertise in the hospitality industry, working with staff and students in the ‘hospitality’ course, as well as assisting in career planning and guidance.

And we’re already working with the next volunteers to whom Ray and Catriona will ‘pass the baton’!

 

from one volunteer to the next

from one volunteer to the next

So – “watch this space”, as the saying goes … there will be updates about their placements in our next newsletter, as well as any interim posts in our blog

South Africa: 2 community projects & 1 great volunteer story

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Gosh – where to begin ? Best to let Sonia tell you something of her six months in the townships of Port Elizabeth, where her work involved counselling in both Emmanuel Advice and Care Centre and in Emafini School, which is one of a cluster of township schools supported through the education development programme.

So, in her own words, here are some extracts from Sonia’s blog and volunteer report. (more…)

local groups: putting you in touch with other volunteers who live near you

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

If you have told us that you would like to be put in touch with other people and places volunteers who live not too far away from you, you should by now have received a contact list of email addresses for volunteers in your area.

We have always encouraged a new volunteer on a particular project to make contact with others who have volunteered there before as a good way of getting to know about that project.  However, meeting with other volunteers who live near you should enable you to find out about people’s experiences at a variety of projects in many different countries.

people and places network

people and places network

Hopefully some of you have already taken the opportunity to meet up with each other.

If you would like us to publicise group meetings in our newsletter or to share any photos or news, please do let us know.

volunteers’ work in India shows clear results !

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

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

(more…)

appreciation of our volunteers in The Gambia, from The Gambia !

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

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

 

local groups – volunteers get together

Sunday, December 20th, 2015

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.

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

(more…)

7th November – LAST CHANCE to attend our volunteer social meeting in Kent ?

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

It’s nearly the end of September … and a mere 6 weeks until our 2015 ‘at home’ meeting on Saturday 7th November.

Our invitation has already been accepted by volunteers who have worked in South Africa, The Gambia, India, Cambodia, Nepal and Peru  … and Dianne will be here, of course, having recently returned from visiting projects in Swaziland and South Africa …

We’re also hoping that some of our overseas partners may be able to join us, as many of them will be in the UK for the annual World Travel Market in London. in it together

So, if you’re thinking about volunteering at some point in the future, or if you’re already making plans, this is a great opportunity for you to come along and talk with people who’ve already “been there, done it ( and  not “got the T-shirt”we don’t do T- Shirts!) …

 

We all LOVE these occasions and can promise you a thoroughly informative and sociable afternoon: find out more about the projects; meet some of our local partners; talk with other volunteers; enjoy the stimulating company of like-minded people – of all ages and from all walks of life; share in some sustaining drinks and nibbles … oh yes, and meet the people and places team: Kate, Sallie, Dianne, Nigel and Harold …

Our Faversham ‘at home’ meetings are always popular, so please let us know as soon as possible if you would like to come, and if you will be alone or with friends and family!

email kate@travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk by 10th October at the latest … we need to plan our catering!

WHEN: Saturday, 7th November – 1 to 5 p.m.

WHERE: head office – 1 Naboth’s Nursery, Canterbury Road, Faversham, Kent ME13 8AX (Kate’s Home!)

PROGRAMME: this is an informal occasion – at about 1.45pm, we will give a short presentation and then there will be plenty of time to ask questions and socialise.

“I attended a volunteers’ social event in Faversham in November 2014 and spoke to people who had worked at both projects. I also met Sonia, another volunteer who would be working in the same project and living in the same homestay. It was great to get to know each other before we started our placements.”  volunteer Abbey, 2015

“Please count me in. It will be great to see you and other volunteers and have an opportunity to hear about other’s experiences as well as get a chance to share some of my own.” volunteer Sonia, 2015

You bet I’ll come !!! Can’t wait to catch up and talk to all these interesting people xxxvolunteer Anke, 2013 & 2014

‘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”