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volunteer junkie

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

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

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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