This is a cautionary tale.

Sharing images of abuse, even when the goal is to question those images and promote best practice, could be a criminal offence in the letter of the law.

Recently I (Dianne) was sent a video via social media by someone who works at one of the projects we support.  The film showed shocking scenes of violence towards children.  It was sent to me with the best of intentions by someone with whom I had have conversations about positive ways of disciplining children in a country where corporal punishment towards children (though not extreme violence) is still common practice.  The film did not originate in that country or in the UK, and had been made specifically for sharing on the Internet, but the violence it showed and the distress of the children involved were undoubtedly real.  My immediate reaction was to delete the video, but it did not seem very responsible to do that without making some attempt at least to bring the perpetrators to justice.   So I reported it to the British police.

This is what I learned. Read the remainder of this entry »

We, at people and places, sincerely believe  in the power of well-matched and well-prepared volunteers – we believe the overwhelming majority of people want to do good … but we also see the damage being done in communities where poorly thought out, managed and monitored programmes are being run. We believe volunteers and the communities they seek to serve are often exploited – and they deserve BETTER.

We started people and places because we believe that it is possible to design and manage volunteer programmes that deliver the support needed by communities – at the same time, ensuring safe and worthwhile experiences for volunteers.

Those of you who follow our news will know that our work has attracted awards for both the day to day work we do and our campaigning (in both instances as you read through the winners you can see what amazing company we were in).

None of this work have we done on our own.

We have been working closely with Friends International Childsafe Movement for a number of years and recently on their Global Good Practice Guide Lines to responsible volunteering for businesses – we believe it is a realistic and thought provoking guide – and we would encourage all volunteers to read it – it will help you assess the ethics of any organisation offering volunteer travel- take a look here

We are proud to have been part of such important guidelines – and we want to take this opportunity to thank Friends International – in helping us improve our child protection policies – and thus support volunteers in their search for ethical ways to volunteer for children.

take a look here at our statement about why we do not work with orphanages

Emmanuel Advice Care Centre in one of the Port Elizabeth townships is a project people and places volunteers have been supporting for many years now.  I (Dianne) was last there in October 2017 in my role as programme advisor, but that did not give me enough time to do any meaningful volunteering work myself, so I returned this spring for four weeks as a volunteer.  Here is my report.

Placement outline

This placement was slightly different to a normal volunteer placement in that the idea for what I should do came from us at people and places rather than coming directly from the project and our local partner, which would be the normal approach. However I had visited Emmanuel several times in my role as programme advisor for people and places and knew that what I was proposing did fit in with one of the project’s stated aims on the support plan, ‘to support the staff at Emmanuel in their work with children in the crèche and preschool, helping them develop appropriate play and educational activities for the children.’ The plan for my placement was see if the curriculum project for pre-school children we helped to set up in Swaziland, which has been so successful there in raising children’s achievement and developing teachers’ skills, could usefully be transferred to Emmanuel. Although the Swaziland project is set in a rural area and Emmanuel is in the middle of one of the townships, the communities have many similarities. They are both very economically poor communities, with high levels of unemployment and ill health, largely due to the high incidence of HIV/Aids and TB, and the projects in both countries aim to provide holistic family support to vulnerable families.  In addition, the structured programme now offered in Swaziland has enabled our local partners there to use unskilled volunteer groups in a much more useful, relevant and focused way, and our hope was that if a more structured programme was offered at Emmanuel this might provide our local partners in Port Elizabeth with an additional project, focused on responsible tourism, for the school and university groups they often host. Read the remainder of this entry »

We at people and places have been asked to advise on many volunteer guides in the past – here is one we can wholeheartedly recommend.

 You can buy The Essential Guide to Volunteering Abroad direct from the publishers here.

The Essential Guide to Volunteering Abroad offers a powerful and transformative new approach to international volunteering. The “learning service” model helps volunteers embrace the learning side of their adventures—and discover how cultivating openness, humility, and a willingness to reflect can enhance help them do good better. It’s not a lightweight ‘how-to’ handbook, but a thoughtful critique, a shocking exposé, and a detailed guide to responsibly serving communities in need.’ (Bennett et al)

We are proud to have been a part of it.

“trade not aid” we hear this all the time from so many development experts but what does it mean?

Should I volunteer abroad?

For us at people and places it’s pretty straight forward – we have worked hard to ensure that our business support programmes give the communities we work with the skills they want and need to earn money – and we all know in our own lives that thats what we need to do – it’s all about the money.

No we are not talking about fundraising – nor are we talking about grandiose business plans – we need volunteers that can share skills such as

building spreadsheets

simple cash accounting

researching opportunity and risk

building a blog

holding a meeting

making sure  my product has a place in the market ( we grandly call this marketing – but sometimes it’s as simple as is the soap my village cooperative sells the right colour for the tourist hotel we hope to supply – can we produce enough lettuce for the big restaurant or should we be building a relationship with smaller organisations

Often when we talk to potential business volunteers they are sceptical about how they can help – we need to explain that it is all about transferable skills

Here`s an example …volunteer Marvin contacted us – he is a insolvency accountant – he wanted to volunteer – he wanted to do it responsibly – he wanted to share his skills but he felt his “field” was just too narrow and inappropriate….we ( well Kate) suggested a project in The Gambia which would “turn your experience in insolvency on its head. And although it is a cliché I really liked the fact that she was able to think outside the box.”

Kate discussed with Marvin that he knew all about businesses going bust – so he knew a lot about why they went bust – so Kate said  let’s take those skills and use them to help people avoid going bust…..that’s exactly what he did in The Gambia

So please -if you have business skills we can and will use those skills….

here are a few programmes we work with that need your skills – there are lots more

Building livelihoods in The Gambia

Business development support for businesses in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Business development support for young adults in a learning centre near Kruger Park

 

 

A good time was had by all at our recent volunteer social, held at Leicester University.  New volunteers were able to chat to people who have volunteered in the past, hear about their experiences and learn about what it is really like to be a volunteer on one of the projects we support.  People who had volunteered together years ago were able to have a good catch up chat,

and people who had volunteered on the same project at different times were able to meet up and share experiences.  We were delighted to welcome a good number of possible new volunteers and look forward to taking their applications forward and matching them to appropriate projects.

We have received a number of emails from people who attended the social – here are some of their reactions:

‘We both enjoyed meeting everyone on Saturday and finding out so much more about the projects available. Everyone was so helpful and enthusiastic about people and places.’

‘My thanks to you, Kate and the whole team for the excellent day on Saturday. It was really good to explore some options and meet some previous volunteers.’
‘I’ve come back very much determined that, in some way or another, I will be volunteering.’
‘We really enjoyed it and appreciate the efforts you all went to.  We’re looking forward to exploring possible opportunities.’
‘It was lovely to meet you and see Sallie and Kate again – I continue to admire all that you all do at People and Places and your genuine desire to provide responsible tourism so keep up the good work.’
‘Was nice to be able to attend the social in Leicester and great to catch up with Chris! We corresponded a few times last year but hadn’t actually met before.  I really enjoyed volunteering with people and places and would like to do it again at some point. I think your team does such a good job and I would recommend you all 100%  responsible volunteering is the way forward!’
Our next social will be in reading in October – please email kate@travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk to book your place
PS had to share this picture of Sallie – being shy and withdrawn as she welcomes everyone – and Kate ….what is she thinking?

This article was written for the Leicester press just before our recent social at Leicester University.

SHE’S KNOWN AS GRANDMA ALL ROUND THE WORLD

Do you think volunteering in the developing world is something just for young people?  If so, you should talk to Yvonne Coulson!  Yvonne, who lives in Lutterworth, is 77 years old and has been volunteering since 2007.  In that time she has completed ten volunteer placements, in six different countries – South Africa, Nepal, The Gambia, Kenya, India and Swaziland.   (photo with Lisong Bah  Early education expert The Gambia)

Yvonne has built up good relationships with local people in all the countries where she has volunteered.  She is still in contact with many of them, and many of them still remember her as ‘Grandma’ – she says she now has adopted grandchildren all round the world!  Yvonne says, ‘I would recommend volunteering to anyone – you are giving of your time and talents but gaining a wonderful insight into the cultures and diversity of our world’.

Yvonne plans to volunteer in Kenya with us later this year – take a look at the programme she will be working with here

Before her retirement Yvonne was a teacher and all her volunteering placements have made use of her teaching skills and experience, working in local schools and helping to train local teachers.  Her specialist subjects are Maths and Science, especially in the primary sector, and this has been invaluable to teachers in the developing world where their access to resources is often very limited; Yvonne says ‘The practical Science I have introduced has been to show how the subject can be taught without proper lab equipment.  One of my strengths is the ability to make do and mend and the recycling of everyday objects into useful teaching equipment’.  She has also helped teachers with more interactive methods for the teaching of English, which is often the main language of education even for children who speak other languages at home, and her interest and skills in Music and Drama have been welcomed in all the countries where she has worked and have added a new dimension to children’s experiences as these subjects are rarely a formal part of a school’s curriculum.

Yvonne volunteers with people and places, an award-winning organisation which sends volunteers of all ages on tailor-made placements which match their skills and experience to locally identified needs, in 10 different countries in the developing world.

Watch Yvonne talking about her experiences

We are so proud to work with Delroy and the team at  Sacred Sports Foundation

Recently received this recognition “Delroy Alexander, of St. Lucia as the 16th Commonwealth Point of Light in honour of his exceptional service leading sports development programmes for disadvantaged young people across the Caribbean.”

Delroy Alexander is the Chairman of the ‘Sacred Sports Foundation,’ which helps disadvantaged young people aged 6-25 through inclusive sports development programmes. Delroy works in low-income areas to help young people access sport, specifically targeting women and girls, children with additional needs, and youth offenders on probation. Partnering with the ‘St. Lucia Football Association’, Delroy has trained 70 sports coaches in St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada, helping them to mentor local young people and improve their skills and confidence through sports.

Read the whole article here

and PS we just want to say – bravo Nova too – we know that your support is so important for Delroy

read about one of the programmes we work together with SSF here

It’s hard to find a good speaker, or so I’m told by people faced with the task of booking different speakers for the social groups they belong to.  Well we can help!  A number of people who have volunteered on people and places projects, including myself, regularly give talks to different social groups such as the WI, church and U3A groups – I was once even invited as speaker (to talk about volunteering) to the local gardening club!  This is a wonderful opportunity to tell people about the countries where we volunteer and about the various projects we support and the inspiring work done there.  Those of us who regularly give such talks find people are always very interested in our volunteering experiences and enjoy the different perspective on travelling that we can give them.

We would like to take every opportunity to expand this work, and are looking for opportunities to get onto speakers’ lists in different parts of the country.  I personally have pretty well exhausted opportunities local to me (although several groups invite me back regularly) but am willing to travel more widely in order to talk about volunteering to people who may not have thought of doing this before.  Who knows – maybe some people are sufficiently inspired by hearing someone talk about their volunteering experiences to try it out for themselves!  So if any of you belong to any groups that invite visiting speakers, please give them our contact details – we will be happy to find a good speaker for them.

And finally – a huge basketful of thanks to all of our volunteers who get out there and spread the news – there is no better way for us to promote our work than by volunteers telling their stories.

Dianne Ashman

click on the videos to view

 

Mrs Rita Dyantyi from Tshume school explains why they welcome volunteers watch to the end – the children are epic!-

 

 

Watch a video by Mrs Thembekha Klaasen and Mrs Anita Hutton from Emmanuel Advice and Care Centre 

 

                                       Mr Thembalethu Hopa of Mboniselo school welcomes volunteers

 

Mr Thambo of AV Bukani School talks about how volunteers have helped his children become the NO1 readers in his area

 

to learn more about how you can support these programmes take a look here Education Support and Community Care