If a volunteer had said this to us two years ago we would not have had the slightest idea what they were talking about. Even a year ago e-volunteering was not a fully formed concept. At that stage we had just started working with a few dedicated previous volunteers on placements to support our partners in The Gambia and Morocco – although in both those countries schools and businesses were still closed so we could only work with staff. We had started talking with our partner in Cambodia about the possibilities of online work but ideas were still at the experimental and planning stage.
Look at us now!
In the past year, working with our partners in four countries, we have set up a system which enables us to match volunteer skills to local needs through 12 week online placements. We have been astonished by the work that has been achieved by our volunteers and by local people working together online, and by the meaningful relationships they have been able to create.
Here are some of the things our e-volunteers have done in 2021:
- worked with small groups of teenagers on English conversation and life skills, showing how much confidence can be built up just by chatting
- taught English to small groups of students where English is their second, third or even fourth language
- coached students for their oral entrance exam for university
- worked one-to-one with house-mothers, helping them improve their English and also giving them someone to talk to as they supported their girls in their return to formal education after lockdown
- started creative writing classes with teenagers, helping them to write poetry and short stories
- produced two podcasts about the projects we support in two different countries, including interviews with local people
- put together a training programme for vulnerable women to show them how to set up and run their own businesses
- provided Covid-safety training for children and adults in countries where information was not so readily available as here
- provided training for local people in health and nutrition
- worked with the head-teacher of a small community centre on whole-school management and curriculum issues
- linked up with classes of children to demonstrate model-making and simple Science experiments
- linked up with classes of children to enable them to ask questions about life in the UK and volunteers’ life experiences
- started an online book club
- supported a teacher training programmes for young people culminating in attending their online graduation
- worked alongside a local teacher to produce a training manual for parents of pre-school children
- produced a series of Powerpoint presentations on learning through play and linked up with local teachers as they tried out this method of learning with their classes
- produced guidance on how to make a Powerpoint presentation and linked up with local people to answer their questions as they worked through the guidance
- produced guidance on how to use spreadsheets which can be used by anyone requiring training at any of the projects we support
Wow! Who would have thought so much could be achieved online – two years ago I had never even heard of Zoom! Some e-volunteers enjoyed it so much they are already half way through their second e-volunteer placements, and we have more exciting placements already planned for e-volunteers early in 2022. As one volunteer told us:
‘You have created such a special and unique experience for volunteers – it creates a gap in our busy lives when we can focus totally on something different and feel we are giving of ourselves. It’s a surprisingly intense and intimate experience and after it we return refreshed to our normal lives, enriched on so many different levels.’ (volunteer Hannah)
To see what e-volunteer projects we are currently supporting take a look at our website www.e-volunteer.co.uk. And remember – the possibilities are almost endless!