stories from the field – by volunteers

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.

I joined the morning circle on my first day, had a tour of the centre at Hazyview and met (many) staff and arranged private chats with those I would mainly be working with. During the first week I mainly observed and participated in what was happening at the centres whilst sorting out my programme of work. I went to the satellite centres on Tuesdays and Thursdays and was at Hazyview the rest of the week. I went with Mo on my first visit to Justicia and Abna came with me as a passenger on my first visit to Huntington. I was at Hazyview for a total of nine weeks.

Hazyview – conservation session

My main programmed activities were:
* Classroom support in English sessions in the Bridging Year Academy (the sessions for older students) across the three campuses
* Development sessions for facilitators in BYA and to a lesser extent in the Open Learning Academy (the service for school age learners)
* Management development sessions for coordinators and Heads of Campus across the three sites
* A review of BYA English Year Programme
I also did some ‘ad hoc’ work:
* Involvement in some of the Career Interest Profile sessions which took place whilst I was at Hazyview, assisting students with the completion of questionnaires and acting as a facilitator at Prof Maree’s presentations (two of which took place during my period with GWF).
* I assisted slightly with Jacky’s review of the GWF mentoring scheme.
* I was involved in some of the reading groups at Hazyview and also gave individual support to improve one staff member’s reading skills.
* I tried to support staff who were involved in distance learning from Antioch University.
* I assisted with shortlisting for a new Operations Manager post.
* Jacky and I did a couple of slideshow presentations to the BYA students at Huntington and Justicia on what it’s like living in England.

Staff are very present for the children at GWF. It is wonderful to see this and to build upon it and extend it. To deliver the MBSR in this context was a hi light– such a privilege and so much learning for me. I am delighted that staff were supported by this intervention and hope they will be able to keep up their practice.

Jacky joins in at Hazyview

An outline of my work
* MBRS course delivered to 12 staff- well evaluated so far
* Mindfulness workshops and sessions for staff and interns
* 1:1 support time and reading support to some staff
* Child development and attachment theory workshops at the centres
* Review of mentoring scheme
* Jointly presented workshop on managing meetings
Docs produced for GWF:
* Mentoring review doc
* End of placement report


And finally, from both, in answer to the question “Would you recommend volunteering to others?”
“Volunteering gives the opportunity to test your abilities and knowledge in a new environment, to support work being done by committed and talented staff in sometimes difficult circumstances and to learn as you contribute what you can to their endeavours. Enriching, challenging of knowledge and perspectives. And great to offer some small measure of support to an important social development. In this context, an awareness of the complexity of the country is important and it requires some self-sufficiency, flexibility, patience and sensitivity.”

and there are times off and moments of amusement, too !

and time off in Kruger
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