What have some of our volunteers been up to in the last few months?

What have some of our volunteers been up to in the last few months?

Nicola in Cambodia

Working in a busy NHS department, with the additional pressures of Covid I was at a point where I was losing my enthusiasm and enjoyment in my role as an A&E nurse. I knew I needed a ‘refresh’ and felt it was a good time to stop and reflect.  I volunteered at Treak Community Centre – my brief was to provide support to teachers with an emphasis on providing practical guidance for health and hygiene for both pupils and their families.

One of the staff at Treak told us: ‘I think Nicola just came at the right time and the right place. She’s someone we always need. I remember when she trained us about the “Emotional First Aid Kit”. We were really touched and inspired. And she also asked us to write something we wanted to hear on a hard day. It was such a memorable training.

Staff workshop on first aid
Practising hand-washing with the children
Leading a parents’ workshop on healthy eating

Michele in The Gambia

I first volunteered in The Gambia in March 2023.  My time on this follow up visit was spent working with Fatou on progressing the shop, her personal development and also a follow up with the NWLB students on placement.

We visited different wholesalers to arrange for the supply of some of the dry goods for the shop, which will be sold alongside the produce from the village gardens. The fresh produce will be purchased later when fans and air conditioning have been installed to ensure that these will store well.

We visited some of the students, who had completed the business course earlier in the year on their work placements. The mentor Youma Wally Ndong came with us to check how these were going and what the students were learning. The students who we met were all enjoying the placements and felt that they were learning valuable business skills which they can transfer to their own businesses. 

Sourcing products for the shop
Visiting students on their work placements

Paul R in Cambodia

I had previously taken on a month’s e-volunteering placement in 2020, mentoring Dara the headteacher at Treak, and followed this up with regular Zoom meetings throughout the next 2 years, so I was well prepared for my placement.

As a former Headteacher, I was asked to act predominantly as an adviser to Dara with certain aspects of management. I talked to staff both informally, gave presentations at staff meetings, observed some lessons and the school day, and helped in some lessons. I subsequently had regular meetings with Dara to advise on the management structure of the school and his working practices.

Working with Dara
Volunteers’ transport in Cambodia

Paul J in The Gambia

I was planning on taking a sabbatical from my work as a chef and I was keen to use that time constructively.

My role was to provide training and practical support for the opening of a new restaurant run by the No Woman Left Behind association.  I felt like we really moved the restaurant project forward rapidly once things got going, securing extra funding for materials and equipment has put it in a position to set itself apart from any local competition. I also felt like we were able to establish certain disciplines within the operation of the kitchen in terms of organization, hygiene and general bookkeeping.

Moving tables to the restaurant using local transport
Paul with Fatou and Bintou from No Woman Left Behind

Daniel in Cambodia

I wanted to get a better understanding of what life is like for people in less developed countries and explore ways to use my professional background (civil engineering) in this setting.  I was involved with a few different projects during my time at Treak Community Centre, mainly related to the ongoing work on improving the building facilities at the centre.

I spent the first month primarily working with the local builder at TCC to get a feel for how construction is done there.  In the second month I began to work on some drawings for a few future renovations that Michael and Salin have planned.  These included converting the east building from a parking space into a restaurant / kitchen and adjusting the existing shop area to allow the shop manager to sell to other people in the village without having to open the main gate.  Also converting the existing restaurant / kitchen area into a bathroom / shower block. I created some conceptual sketches of these. The idea of creating the drawings was both to serve as a guide for what the building should look like when it is finished, and to hopefully encourage a bit more planning for future construction projects.

Tying bamboo reinforcement with the villagers
Work begins on the shop renovation

Zoe in The Gambia

When I arrived at the school I discovered that their regular French teacher was on long-term sick leave, which meant the children were missing out on French lessons (as the Gambia is bordered by French-speaking Senegal, French is an important part of the school curriculum). As I have experience of teaching French at primary school level, I offered to step in and teach children in Prep 3 – 6.  This turned out to be a fantastic opportunity as I got to know the children quickly and I could also demonstrate the teaching methods covered in my weekly staff training sessions.

I ran staff workshops on active learning and differentiation and have left my powerpoint presentations and some teaching resources which I hope will be useful.

I absolutely loved volunteering at Mary’s Little Lambs and my overall experience there was fantastic. I felt like part of the team from day one, and the staff and children were wonderful to work with.

Zoe and Lisong at a teacher training session
In the classroom at MLL

To find out more about volunteering at Treak Community Centre, with No Woman Left Behind or at Mary’s Little Lambs please click on the links or email dianne@travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk

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