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“passing the baton” – volunteers and projects working together

When any new volunteer placement is accepted and agreed, we send previous volunteers’ reports and encourage our new volunteers to get in touch with those who have been to the same project before. This is a vital in enabling continuity of project support and placement roles – and also avoids volunteers “re-inventing the wheel”.
Individual placement roles differ according to volunteers’ individual skills and experience – whether in education, training, practical skills, social care, nutrition, health care, social work – but the fundamental skills-share approach applies with each and every placement.

The following extracts, from several volunteers as well as from the projects in Cambodia, demonstrate the interconnected nature of placements and “passing the baton” … 


so, Cambodia projects … teaching, training & education, practical skills, horticulture, health & social care (click on the link to find out more)  Read the rest of this entry »

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

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

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

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. Read the rest of this entry »

volunteer in Nepal – new projects and an old friend

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




great news for Emmanuel – thanks to volunteer Trez

Fantastic news from one of our previous volunteers, Therese Bateson – ‘Trez’.

A not-for-profit organisation she is involved in in the UK has decided to part fund the food programme at Emmanuel Community Centre until April 2017.

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‘Baby Angels’ aims to: “Relieve poverty among underprivileged children and their families world-wide by financially supporting meaningful development initiatives, aiming to promote positive change within their lives and help build sustainable livelihoods”

Thank-you so much Trez and Baby Angels!