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Dianne’s travels in southern Africa continued . . . on to Port Elizabeth

My recent trip to South Africa culminated in two thoroughly enjoyable weeks spent in Port Elizabeth, working with Calabash, our wonderful local partners.  As always, they could not have been more friendly and welcoming – I immediately felt part of the team and we had a really great time working together.  Port Elizabeth is a fantastic place to volunteer – really worthwhile projects where you will spend your working day, a very supportive team to take an interest in what you are doing, look after you and make sure you have a good time, and lots to do in your free time.

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so proud of our partners -Tiger Mountain, Nepal

We are thrilled to announce that our partners at Tiger Mountain Nepal have just won a prestigious award that recognises their commitment to the environment and the communities they work with and in.

Well done and well deserved all at Tiger Mountain

To learn more about the volunteer programme we work on in partnership with Tiger Mountain – take a look here 

Fatima’s journey to school in Morocco

When you watch this short video about one girl’s journey from school to her village, you will understand why we support this life changing initiative. The boarding houses are so important. (**switch on subtitles**).


no more words … we will let Fatima explain

but if you want to learn more about how you can support girls like Fatima take a look here.

time to get together again – Saturday 24th March – Leicester

… we’re delighted that we’ll be holding our next volunteers’ social meeting in central Leicester … more accessible for more people, whether travelling by road or rail !

volunteers’ social meeting

Saturday 24th March – 1.00 to 5.00 p.m. 

Come and meet previous, present and co-volunteers, as well as the people and places team, of course !

This is a great opportunity to learn more about the projects if you’re planning to volunteer, and to meet old friends if you’ve volunteered with us before.

We haven’t confirmed our exact Leicester location yet – and we appreciate that this is important – but we wanted you to get the date in your diaries as soon as possible. (we know you are busy people!)

Please email Kate if you would like to come and join us for the afternoon – and don’t be shy: the more, the merrier !

Full details to follow early in the New Year.

“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 »

orphanages-why are we asking you to rethink volunteering or donating?

We want to start this post by saying very clearly that we know that some of you support orphanages – and we are not, for a moment, suggesting that you should immediately stop supporting those orphanages. We want to encourage people to look at alternatives and encourage the organisations they support to seek alternatives.We want to encourage people who are thinking about supporting an orphanage for the first time to consider the alternatives – we want to warn people that many orphanages – not all- are commercial enterprises where children are trafficked.

We are asking everyone to rethink the way we support children in poverty – children who are very often separated from their families because of poverty.

We at people and places made the decision nearly 10 years ago to work with programmes that work to keep children in their families not in orphanages – why?

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how exciting – a volunteer has written a book about her experiences !

volunteer Jenny has written a book about her experiences – which anyone can buy – and all proceeds will help to support the work of our local partners, Calabash in Port Elizabeth!

Hello Mrs Jenny

check it out here … Mrs Jenny Welcome

A great read – the realities of a volunteering experience !



we need your teaching skills – and not only in schools

Definition of teach: “cause (someone) to learn or understand something by example or experience.”

Definition of skill: “The ability to do something well; expertise.”

That’s what we are all about in all our volunteer projects

{As an aside we are proud that our programme is a skills-share programme. However, we need to use the term “volunteer” because in this Google search age the vast majority of people use the word “volunteer” when they do their searches – not “skills-share”.}

Many of our “education” volunteer programmes are not based in schools – many are.

All of our programmes need volunteers to share their skills – e.g. teach.

Here are some examples of where we need teaching skills – not only in schools but in community, health and vocational programmes too.

Please read on to learn more about the projects we work with that need and would warmly welcome your teaching skills .

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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?

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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 »