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People & Places: Responsible Volunteering
People & Places has created a niche for itself based upon its "responsible volunteering" philosophy and the importance of forging a bond between VolunTourists and destinations at the community level. For those interested in sustainability and responsible travel, People & Places may be the perfect VolunTourism Supplier.
For this issue, I caught up with Sallie Grayson who shared the following information on People & Places and their responsible travel programs.
A Brief History & Background
People and Places has evolved from the recognition that many volunteer recruitment organisations are out of step with the needs of local communities and volunteers. Ours is a truly different approach – to specifically match volunteers and projects. Our starting point for every project is the local community – their needs and those of the project are paramount. Only with a comprehensive understanding and respect for the community and the project will people and places match volunteers to placements.
We are committed to ensuring that as much as possible of your hard earned money reaches your host country and is used for the benefit of local well being and knowledge. We are committed to ensuring that your placement is as rewarding as possible for you and the projects on which you work. We offer our service at no charge to volunteers and at a minimal charge to the projects.
People and Places is not run for the benefit of shareholders. Any annual profit, after all justifiable operating costs, is paid into a CAF account. This commitment is clearly stated in our Shareholders Agreement
- that the vast majority of the volunteer funds benefits the local economy
- a good match of projects and volunteers
- a challenging, rewarding and safe experience for volunteers and communities alike
Helping the local economy
You pay nothing to us – the total price of your volunteer experience will be sent directly to the local project manager who, with the project team, will designate funds to ensure local sustainability. Our fee is met by the project manager, and we guarantee that at least 75% of the price you pay will remain in the host country. This approach has obvious benefits – local management teams receive your funds immediately, easing cash flow, and because our charges are low, they are able to use more of the funds locally … up to 100% more!
Tuesdays 10am ET/7am PT
Matching people and places
Having assured ourselves that the projects are well managed and the managers are fully committed, we work closely with them to build careful profiles of their volunteer requirements. We will take as much care learning about you, so that we can effectively select the most appropriate project for you. We take every possible step to ensure that the local communities benefit as much as possible from your time, your expertise and your money.
Wherever appropriate we require volunteers to undergo criminal record screening to ensure the safety of vulnerable children and adults.
Whether you want to share a specific expertise or step well out of your comfort zone, our personal experiences and professional skills enable us to match people and places for the benefit of both.
People and Places Team Members
Dr. Harold Goodwin is a world expert in responsible and sustainable tourism. He works with communities, governments, international funding agencies, and within the tourism industry to develop responsible tourism. He founded and directs the MSc in Responsible Tourism Management at the University of Greenwich.
He is committed to enabling local communities and economically poor people to conserve their natural and cultural heritage through careful linking with responsible travellers. He has held the belief for some time that economically poor communities and volunteers can be better served than they have been by the majority of existing volunteer recruitment organisations.
Sallie Grayson is one of those volunteers who was not best served!
She ran a niche marketing company for 20 years and has served as a non-executive director, and consultant in industries as varied as retail, finance health and tourism. She has a proven record in direct marketing and business development. She has worked with communities in Africa to improve their economic welfare.
Her volunteer experience, and the shared experience of other volunteers and the communities in which they worked, left her frustrated and cynical about the volunteer industry, but inspired by the potential benefits to volunteer and community alike …
… and determined to do something!
Kate Stefanko has over 10 years’ experience in the travel industry, particularly in the development of cultural immersion tours for specialist travel companies. She places particular emphasis on matching the cultural experience of the traveller to the need for a sustainable and empowering experience for the destination.
To our combined academic, strategic and commercial skills, we bring a grounded passion for the importance of travelling to make a difference.
People and Places was established to recruit and place volunteers in local projects run by local people for the benefit of their communities and their environment. People and Places is a (not-for-profit) company. All profits are covenanted for charitable purposes and used to serve the needs of the communities with whom we work. People and Places serves the needs of local projects, by recruiting and placing volunteers on their behalf. We have no political or religious affiliations.
Our core values are mutual respect, service, partnership, transparency and sustainability. We believe that people who are willing and able to contribute their expertise, skills and time for the benefit of others, should be provided with quality volunteering opportunities and be well supported in their volunteering.
Unique Volunteer Activities
Each volunteer opportunity within the People & Places framework is unique because it is designed specifically based upon the needs of the community and matched with individual participants. The following is an example of one such project:
The townships of South Africa still exist, despite the end of apartheid over 10 years ago. The transition from an oppressive, race-based state to a democratic, free South Africa, holds enormous challenges. Many children are therefore trying to gain an education under the most difficult of circumstances – no electricity for light by which to do their homework at night, no running water in or near their home, necessitating the daily collection of water from the communal taps, disrupting their studies. Many are trying to gain an education whilst caring for parents with AIDS and parenting younger siblings or trying to avoid the constant threat of violence that accompanies social and economic deprivation and drug abuse. Most of these children have no role models within their family or social circle – they are likely to be the first in their families to experience further education.
Our project management team, with the Langa High School principal, Mr P. Murugen, and his team of educators, managers and the Governing Body, have worked on an inspirational programme to address the challenges these young people face and help them develop the skills they need to overcome them.
The goal is to assign a mentor to each 15 year old with aspirations to go on to tertiary education, someone to help the student with the skills so many of us take for granted – communication skills, learning about, understanding and being proud of their own culture, whilst developing their knowledge of other cultures and the basics of budgeting and time management. There will also be some tutoring in traditional lessons, in partnership with a local expert – someone who is passionate about keeping customs and traditions.
As you will be working to a programme and within a team, the work will inevitably vary – from improving maths skills to visiting museums. Whilst the upgrading and capacity building of schools and teachers in the townships is being addressed, there remain enormous demands on limited resources, and this amazing initiative could not survive without the generous and committed support of volunteers.
Experienced educators who can help his students achieve excellence will be welcomed by Mr Murugen, as well as willing and open-minded volunteers to help with the teaching support programme and such jobs as general administration, playground support or catering – to say nothing of offering general support and friendship for him and his team.
Sample Itinerary (Port Elizabeth, South Africa)
The first day will be an orientation of Port Elizabeth – your hometown for the next 4 weeks. You will be taken on a social history tour of the city area as well as the major township areas. You will meet your Project Manager, Paul Miedema, as well as the motley crew making up the team. You will be shown the offices where we work from, and where we will hold meetings. A brief introduction on a few cultural concepts/differences will also be conducted. Essentially the purpose of today is to put you at ease, make you feel at home, and experience the warmth and welcoming we South Africans are known for!
The rest of the week is spent on an orientation programme with the Red Cross. This is critical, as the issue of HIV/Aids is sensitive, and the Red Cross has very particular policies around various issues. In the interests of the host communities, it is important our dedicated UK volunteers have a good understanding of how the Home based care programme works, the scope of work, and the ethical issues local/UK volunteers may face.
The orientation programme will be run from the Red Cross Offices (close to the Calabash Tours office) in the mornings, AS WELL AS A PRACTICAL COMPONENT IN THE COMMUNITIES. Mornings will be in the office, and afternoons will be in the community.
Your day’s work will start at 8:30 am
Areas the Red Cross Orientation Programme will cover Care for Care Givers
- Meetings (report backs etc)
- Psychological support
- Monitoring of Work Load
- Policy Regarding infection – HIV and TB
Care and Support Activities
- Comprehensive Home Based Care
- Nutritional Support – limited Food Parcels, food gardens
- Limited non food support – linen, blankets, facecloths etc
- Support groups and support for social activities
- DOTS (TB medicine - to ensure people complete the course of medication) and Anti Retroviral Treatment
- Assisting with accessing state and other resources e.g. Social Grants
- Health Education
- Essential that it is accurate, structured and monitored
- Peer Education
- Educating communities about HIV/Aids
- Anti Stigma Campaigns
The Red Cross runs a comprehensive programme, and you will need to understand the various areas of their work. You will however not be involved in all of these, but rather will be directed by the Red Cross into areas where your skills lie.
Week 2, 3, 4
Having completed the orientation, you are now ready to do what you came for – make a difference in the lives of people infected/affected by HIV. Each suburb/part of the township has its own local volunteer group, co-ordinated by an Area Facilitator.
These facilitators will be directing you into the areas of work.
We are desperate for counselors – and you have this skill.In each area, the facilities identify people in need of counseling. With the facilitator’s assistance, you will actively counsel people identified.
You will also assist in the area of accessing of resources. This will involve following up with the Social Grants
Your valuable nursing and hospice skills will be best suited to home visits, again in conjunction with local volunteers under the guidance of area facilitators. Your nursing skills will be very useful in training and assistinglocal volunteers in issues such as: how to prepare rehydration fluids, Care of Mouth Sores (thrush), Care of pressure sores etc.
You will also be able to assist in access to resources eg Social Grants.
Each Monday (9 -10am) you will need to attend supervision meetings at the Red Cross Office.
Every Friday afternoon you will meet with Paul (PM) to give feedback, identify problems, share experiences, AND HELPTWEAK THE PROGRAMME FOR FUTURE VOLUNTEERS.
You will need to be flexible and adaptable. Every effort will be made by us and Red Cross to allow you to maximize the experience you have so boldly undertaken. But the pandemic poverty and the needs of the communities supersede all else. Poverty Mindsets, language barriers, prejudices etc may all be manifest, but we has a long history of troubleshooting in these areas.
Honesty about how you are experiencing the work isimportant. If we do not know how you are coping, we cannot assist. And this is a BIG and Important work, as it is about vulnerable people and their lives! And it is about creating future opportunities for socially aware people, like yourselves, to learn and grow from the experience.
Remember this is Africa, and where you will be working is poor Africa. Some people may only have rubber buckets for toilets, access to water from a community tap, and no electricity. Some people may have much better facilities,but for many people living where you will be working is a hand to mouth existence. You may find their approach to life very different from yours.
We will be available 24/7 should you need us. YOU will not be ALONE
We have been working for 7 years with tourists and visitors in township areas. We have a confidence that the spirit of the people of the townships will move you in the way it moves us – that is why we love what we do and do it with PASSION! The spirit of UBUNTU (Humanity) will touchyou – as long as you keep an open mind, a flexible approach and a dedicated mindset.
If you have a cell phone, find out if it is compatible to SA (most new models are) and upon arrival you could buy a local SIM card. (Alternatively we can assist you in hiring one - will get rates) but it will be very useful to be in phone contact.
While you will need to bring clothes and personal items for a month, there is a desperate need for blankets,linen, etc as many of the terminal patients are very poor. If you have any spare, try and bring them along.
While the Red Cross has a supply of rubber gloves – which you will be given when required – it is a resource that is carefully managed. If it is available to you, and you can get hold of some, bring them along.
Your volunteer contribution will be spent by you, in consultation with the PM and Red Cross. Gloria has indicated food parcels are always in demand, as well asblankets, mattresses and linen. As you work with the local volunteers; YOU will be able to identify who needs what, and your volunteer contribution will be spent on making the lives of some of the people a little more comfortable in their hour of need.
Kate Stefanko - firstname.lastname@example.org
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