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13th October in Reading – volunteer social confirmed – will you be there ?

we’re ready to meet you

Our volunteers’ get-together next month is confirmed – we know where we’re going to be and which of our previous and future volunteers are going to be there … though we would certainly be delighted if more of you would like to come along: the more, the merrier!

So, if you’d like to join us and other volunteers on the afternoon of 13th October in central Reading, please email kate@travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk as soon as possible so that we can add you to our list of attendees.

We’ll soon be emailing everyone who’s already accepted our invitation with full details of the afternoon’s location, transport links etc.

 

volunteering – the right people in the right places

I (Kate) just LOVE my job and I thought you’d like to read these snippets from 2 recent volunteers about how ‘people and places’ works closely with volunteers, right from the beginning – doing our utmost to put the right people in the right places:

SOPHIE
‘I was very impressed (and grateful!) that when my original allocated project proposed a job role that didn’t quite align with my experience, People & Places organised for me to change to Treak. This was a perfect fit and I’m glad I ended up there!’
ELLIE
‘Kate and the team at People and Places were very helpful, accommodating and efficient in
organising my time volunteering. I got in touch hoping to get away as soon as possible with short notice and they were able to make it work for me whilst managing my expectations. I appreciated Kate advising me on the country that might be best suited to me and she put me in touch with others whilst she was away so that the process could be sped up!’

seventeen girls in Morocco – first in their families to go to university

Very few girls from the rural communities of the High Atlas Mountains get the opportunity of continuing their education beyond primary school. Secondary schools, mostly several kilometres away in larger towns, are not accessible to them because:

  1. Their parents can’t afford to pay for lodgings or transport near secondary schools
  2. Their parents don’t have the confidence in existing facilities to entrust their daughters to be away from home.

One of the programmes we work with is Education for All in Morocco – and we are thrilled to share this news from them with you:

“We got the exam results in yesterday for the ‘A’ Level equivalent and wanted to let you know that 17 girls have passed and are University-bound! Here they are with their certificates.

“Six more will resit their exams so we expect we will have more who will pass.

“We are of course all very proud of them. They are the first in their families to go to University and therefore this will have a significant impact on their lives and their families and communities.

“Thank you for supporting us so these kind of results can happen.”

 

To learn more about how you could volunteer on this programme take a look here

To learn about how you could donate to this programme take a look here

working to make our support for volunteer projects worthwhile and sustainable

One of our core values at people and places is to make sure that the work our volunteers do is of real use to the communities where we work and forms part of an initiative that can and will be continued after the volunteer goes home.  We are determined to avoid the kind of volunteering where someone goes into a community with an idea we think is good but which is in fact irrelevant to the way things work in that country, or which has already been done in a slightly different way by an earlier volunteer.

How on earth can we hope to achieve such a challenging aim?

At the heart of our work is the support plan.  Each project has a support plan, available for prospective volunteers to view on our website.   For example, click here to read the support plan for youth development in Saint Lucia.  The support plan contains a short list of aims for the work of volunteers on that project, plus some suggestions as to activities volunteers might do to help achieve them.  These aims are NOT thought up by us – they are the needs expressed by people who actually work at the projects and by our local partners who live locally and work on a regular basis with the project so have a much better idea than us of what local needs are.  The suggested activities are simply that – suggestions.  It would not be possible to write a finite list of actions to be carried out because we cannot know in advance what skills and experiences each volunteer may be able to contribute – however they do give a guideline for volunteers in seeing how they might be able to use their skills to help achieve a need which local people have expressed.  Whilst we constantly use the support plan to inform the volunteer matching process, it is formally reviewed every two years, and at that stage projects and local partners add new aims and suggested activities, remove any aims which have been completely fulfilled or are no longer relevant and they and we together detail what has been done by volunteers within those two years towards achieving existing aims.  At this stage we also add in, if the project agrees, any recommendations made by volunteers as to how their work could be built on by others who follow them.  However the support plans can be changed and added to at any time, and some local partners regularly ask us to add aims or to make other alterations. Read the rest of this entry »

stories from the field – by volunteers

Elsewhere in this newsletter, you’ll be able to read Dianne’s full report from her own recent volunteer placement in Port Elizabeth.  

At people and places, we firmly believe that sharing volunteers’ reports, before and after placements, is vital in helping everyone to appreciate their own role in a project’s development and sustainability.

Here are some extracts from 2 more volunteers who also worked in South Africa this year, though on a different project from Dianne – in Kruger. Husband & wife team, Paul and Jacky, worked on different project needs and for different periods of time, while sharing each other’s company and experiences as residents of the lovely (and safe!) volunteers’ accommodation.  Read more about this project here. Read the rest of this entry »

child welfare and volunteering

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

back to Port Elizabeth as a volunteer – not as p+p’s programme advisor!

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 rest of this entry »

a new guide for turning good intentions into effective results

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 need your business skills

“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

 

 

volunteer socials – “everyone…so helpful and enthusiastic”

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?