Our international partners accomplish amazing things with volunteers. Read their stories.
Volunteer assistance is critical to enabling our international partners to create change in their communities. Many of them have shared the work they were able to accomplish with the help of international volunteers. Read their stories below.
Liz's blog for the Omprakash Conference - Thoughts on Connecting Communities print story
July 09, 2012
Having Managed an NGO (SKIP – Supporting Kids In Peru) for over 3 years now, I am used to the varying responses from people when I tell them what I do for a job. The raised eyebrow stares which tell me they think I am a meddling do-gooder, or awkwardness because it suddenly reminds people about world poverty and they don't know how to feel about it. Sometimes there are overwhelming statements like, 'Wow! You must be really amazing.' At which point I usually look at the ground, unsure of how I'm supposed to respond...I mean I just manage an NGO – for all they know I might be rubbish at it, or totally obnoxious!!
So the Omprakash conference was an incredible experience for me, personally, because it was a unique opportunity to meet with the other 'weirdos' out there chasing that dream of trying to make a difference. This was not just about connecting communities in terms of cultural education, but also in order to combat that feeling of isolation which can develop in the unusual existence of managing an international NGO. Being able to share experiences of the more challenging aspects of this work in an environment of support and understanding, outside of my own organisation, where I am always the leader, was almost therapeutic.
Then there was the skill-share aspect. This was the first time I have been able to attend NGO specific training in the whole time I have been working at SKIP. I know that I am not alone when I say that the vast majority of my learning in my time at SKIP has been done online. Frantic Google searches for advice on policy writing or project development and the occasional email to a friend working in the UK to see if they can find me research or give advice. I do the majority of volunteer training at SKIP – finally, here was some time for me to be the student.
It was so inspirational to listen to presentations about other projects. I have never spent so much time in training with a wide, delirious smile on my face, feeling energised by every new approach. Over the days I began to look around the room and feel hugely proud to be a part of this incredible community. I was reminded of how much we can share the burden of learning. Through building good practice models and sharing them with others, we can develop our ideas and integrate these theories into our work, speeding our acquisition of knowledge. As we kept saying throughout the conference, there is no need to 'reinvent the wheel'.
Finally, there was the opportunity to connect with people from other organisations and think about how we could work together. It's funny how much this is facilitated by face to face meetings. Of course, you could always send an email from the information on a website, but somehow talking in person, listening to the story and being able to ask questions so that you really understand, makes that so much more likely.
Making a difference may be a dream for some but for the organisations attending this conference, it is a reality. I leave this experience ever more sure that if we are the weirdos, then that's exactly who I want to be.