by Dianne – Volunteer Programme Advisor
We are always learning . . . all sorts of people provide us with useful insights about volunteering in other countries and other cultures and about the issues we discuss in our campaigns.
In the last couple of years I have got to know Father Cornelis Hooijmaijers a Catholic priest, originally from the Netherlands but who worked for 56 years of his ministry in the Solomon Islands – since his retirement Cor has come to live near to me. He is most interesting to talk to and has led a very interesting life, ranging from his childhood in a children’s home in war-torn Rotterdam to his experiences living and working in the Solomon Islands. I am also in awe of the fact that he speaks or is familiar with many different languages, including Dutch, English, Flemish, French, German, Afrikaans, Latin, Greek, pidgin English and at least 3 Solomon Island tribal languages! Through my work with people and places I have learned a lot about short-term volunteering in the developing world, and as an organisation we try hard to do this responsibly, fitting in with local culture and taking advice from local people; talking with Cor has given me a new perspective on this – during his time in the Solomon Islands he has worked with many foreign charities and volunteers, and as he worked without a salary for 56 years he might be considered to be one of the world’s longest serving volunteers!