Don’t want to travel? – not a problem – e-volunteering is here to stay

Don’t want to travel? – not a problem – e-volunteering is here to stay

We continue to be heartened by the wonderful work and close relationships that can be achieved through e-volunteering.  Our e-volunteers go from strength to strength and a number of them are now on their second e-volunteer placement.  Here are just a few examples to whet your appetite for this different but very worthwhile way to volunteer with a project overseas.

Eileen is about to start her second online book club, working with our partners in South Africa, Good Work Foundation.  The book club she led during 2021 with a group of facilitators was an outstanding success – they read ‘The Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ which led to some heated discussions on topics such as women’s empowerment and ways of dealing with abusive relationships.  For some students this was the first time they had read a book from cover to cover, and all of them said how much they enjoyed the discussions and how it had led to an increasing awareness of the importance of listening to each other’s opinions.  Eileen can’t wait to start the new book club with a new group of facilitators – the current challenge is choosing a new book to read!

Eileen with some members of the 2021 book club

Mike is running an online course with teachers in The Gambia, teaching them how to use various IT applications.  During his course he will be covering PowerPoint, Word, Outlook and Excel, personalising the materials to suit the different levels of knowledge of the course members.  He is working with a group of teachers from different schools and colleges, and with very different experiences of using technology – a real challenge especially in a country where Internet access is not always reliable!  The aim of the course is to build the capacity of the teachers, both to enhance their own use of IT and to enable them to make use of IT as a tool for teaching and learning with their own students.

waiting to start the first session

Dawn is using her experience as a retired paediatrician to work with staff at Treak Community Centre in Cambodia on issues such as physical and emotional development of teenagers – very new topics for Cambodians and not topics they would normally discuss openly .  Here is a summary of one of her recent sessions, written by Viphou, the young deputy head, followed by the reaction of Michael, our partner in Cambodia:

Dawn has shared us about child and emotional development for children age 9-17 years old. Dawn shared us a lot about how children develop their body, brain and hormones. Relate to girls’ puberty, Dawn shared us a lot about menstruation (periods). Indeed, we should keep pads and clean sanctuary for the safety of our girls. And if the girls are painful, take a pill and use the hot water bottle to feel the painful spot. And for teenage years, kids should not stop drinking milk / dairy products or do a diet (lose weight) since it’s not really beneficial for them. At their ages, they need vitamins, calcium and nutrients. Secondly, we learned about emotional development. I think this is my favorite topic. We got to learn how children develop their mood swing. Emotional impact can happen to children because of previous experiences, hormones and peer pressures. If peer pressures happen to our students or us, Dawn advices us to encourage our students and always remind them about how good they are and what they are capable of and that’s ok not to know everything and just because someone does it doesn’t mean we need to follow through. It’s our choice to be happy. Lastly, she said both sex education and contraception are quite important for all genders. If we learn and understand this all together, we will treat each other well, learn how to behave toward each other and aware what is a good and bad relationship. (Viphou)

This is just wonderful. There’s some pretty important stuff in here, and stuff that’s not always easy to talk about in any culture, never mind Cambodia! (Michael)

Sharon is using her experience as an Events Organiser to help develop the No Woman Left Behind programme for vulnerable women in The Gambia.  Her focus is on women’s empowerment and her aim is to find ways to help these women develop self-esteem and the confidence to take responsibility for their own lives in future – so important for these women whose histories all involve some form of exploitation.  Sharon’s activities on themes such as ‘Self-esteem is something you can work on’ and ‘The importance of being a great communicator’ are all designed to be interactive, non-threatening and fun!  Working alongside Sharon, Sallie is using her business skills to provide activities based around the more prosaic areas the women will need to learn if they are to run their own businesses successfully and provide economically for their families.  She is helping them understand the fundamentals of business (right product, right place, right price, right quantity) as well as the important topic of cash control!  For the women taking the course, after a year learning the practicalities of catering, a year learning business skills could have felt very academic and challenging, particularly for those who were not able to complete fulltime education.  The materials produced by Sharon and Sallie, using their business and human resource skills, are all based around discussions and practical activities – not boring at all!

E-volunteering filled a gap during the pandemic – but we have learned it’s so much more than that and it’s certainly here to stay.  For people who would love to do a volunteer placement but are unable to travel for physical, financial, family or ethical reasons, the possibilities offered by an online placement are endless.  To learn more about our e-volunteer projects take a look here

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