What I (Kate) enjoy most about my work as placements director is getting to know each volunteer as we work together through their placement preparation. As all returned volunteers will know, we provide loads of information and also ask for rather a lot … this exchange and attention to detail is what makes for a successful volunteer experiences … a ‘win-win’ situation.
It’s really encouraging to know that more and more potential volunteers are taking to time to do their research and consider their options carefully.
I shall let them speak for themselves – in their initial applications:
I just wanted to travel with an ethical company. There are hundreds of websites offering volunteer placements abroad, but I want to do something that is not just another ‘gap year’ type place. Gill
One of the reasons that I am so interested in your organisation is the fact that ethical and responsible volunteering underpins the whole process. I am really impressed by the emphasis placed on the three way relationship between People and Places, the community and the volunteer. [The] process is transparent and you can see exactly where money is spent and where volunteers are matched to projects that will suit their skill set. I’ve had a good look at your website – it’s really great, so informative! Mary
As we exchange information with each other and begin to identify the best-matched projects:
Thank you very much for all the information you sent me about the project in Cambodia. I really enjoyed reading and finding out more. Once I started, I did quite enjoy writing [my life story] and sharing it with my daughter. There are several reasons I would like to volunteer. Firstly I now have the time to make a difference to people outside of my immediate family as my three children have all flown the nest. I would like to help others who have less opportunities than I’ve had … spending quality time working with a trusted organisation where I can also increase my self-esteem. Kate
As we finalise a placement and ‘hand over’ to our local partners:
Thanks for this – the schedule looks really full and absolutely fascinating, which is great. I hope I can keep up 🙂 I’m really looking forward to it all, and to meeting everyone in The Gambian project. And thank you so much Kate for your comprehensive and painstaking preparation – I feel very well supported. Annie
And then we can enjoy news of each placement through reading volunteers’ reports and hearing about the amazing work they’ve done – rising to the challenges and producing fabulous results!
I visited my placement in Castries and met with Mrs Dyer the Headmistress and Mr. Simon the remedial teacher I would be working alongside. I was welcomed very warmly and we agreed to start work the following day. The orientation Yinka gave us was comprehensive and we felt confident when setting off on our own the next day. Val – Saint Lucia
Matched up perfectly all four volunteers going to St Lucia – I think you must have some special insight! – we got on very well and enjoyed each other’s company throughout. Liaison with Sacred Sports Foundation was well organised and ran very smoothly. Both Delroy and Yinka were very helpful and receptive and showed an awareness and appreciation of what we were doing which helped us to freely discuss our placements with them at our weekly meetings. I learned a lot and began to understand the needs of the children by working alongside individual teachers. It didn’t take long to be accepted by both pupils and teachers so that I quickly felt at home, a success in itself. Valerie – Saint Lucia
Feeling happy and inspired! I’m in skill and knowledge share heaven here in PE, learning a lot about how tourism can have a positive impact on local communities and am able to share some of my experience too. Anke – South Africa
And because volunteers work with local people, we get their feedback too …
“This woman Anke is rather astute and teaching me what our projects experience hosting a volunteer. Like our projects we’re finding the skills sharing very beneficial thus far. Enkosi!” Paul – local partner in Port Elizabeth
“Very exemplary, highly professional, self disciplined and resourceful volunteer. She was joy, a daily dose of enthusiasm for life and not afraid of challenges. Suited this placement beyond our expectations.” project principal at Upton Gardens Girls’ Centre, Saint Lucia
“Her quiet calm nature and apparent understanding of youth at risk was demonstrated in her approach.” project principal, Court Diversion Programme, Saint Lucia
“Her work at the school and assistance in the various classes was immeasurable . With Ms. Kemps’ help there was time to give students much individualized instruction which is needed in a special educational environment to enhance student’s potential – her kind nature and patience in dealing with the students, her willingness to share ideas and teaching experience with the staff as well as not being overwhelming. Honestly Ms. Kemp became known to us quickly as Ms. Valerie and was liked and is missed at the school. She fitted in well! principal, Lady Gordon Opportunity Centre