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Volume 4 Issue 1 Highlights

 
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Developing World Connections

If you ever have the opportunity to speak with Wayne McRann, Co-Founder of Developing World Connections, you will immediately appreciate his interest in the notion that volunteer- and travel & tourism-related experiences are crucial to the underpinnings of any engagement in any destination. It is most difficult to render service without a corresponding interaction with the arts, culture, geography, history, and even recreational elements present in that space. This credo may be based upon philosophy for some, but for Wayne and his team, it is viewed as necessity.

A Brief History & Background On DWC:

The idea for Developing World Connections came from the founders’ humbling and profoundly meaningful experiences as international volunteers with their Rotary club. After many years of conducting hands-on club projects and evaluating projects on behalf of Rotary International in economically under-developed nations, they had garnered an understanding of what makes an international project successful. They also developed an intimate understanding of the joy and personal growth value of participating on these projects.

Of course, because the experience had such a profound impact on their lives and they talked about it often, soon many friends and family members were asking how they, too, could realize this same personal benefit while being of service to others. With no lack of sustainable development projects and an obvious desire from many to participate in the cultural experience, Developing World Connections was formed to respond to the needs of project beneficiaries and Western world volunteers.

Photo by Will Plowright, Copyright © Developing World Connections, All Rights Reserved

Developing World Connections was formed as a non-profit society in mid 2004 to conduct sustainable projects in developing countries and to provide volunteers with a personal growth and cultural immersion vacation opportunity.

The Boxing Day 2004 tsunami spurred a grassroots emergency response to build homes for those left homeless from that great disaster. With the experience and confidence in-hand and the generosity of spirit from those who responded to their call for volunteers, Developing World Connections successfully built their first tsunami village in Sri Lanka. What began as a volunteer response to a disaster has become a proactive grassroots movement that embodies both the spirit of service and an opportunity to experience one’s place, in a very fulfilling way, in the global community. They continue to strive to create and facilitate meaningful international volunteer experiences that directly benefit the stakeholders of sustainable development projects.

Currently, Developing World Connections connects people from the Western world with those in Swaziland, Sri Lanka, Peru, Guatemala, India, and Cambodia, and will soon commence trips to Kenya and Rwanda.

The Philosophy Behind The Creation Of DWC:

It is Developing World Connections’ mission to contribute to the betterment of our global community through meaningful and sustainable service to people in developing nations. It has been said that one can learn, and we believe that, by combining the three primary elements of learning - hearing, seeing and doing in an international service experience - offers valuable personal perspective and enhances lasting personal growth.

The physical structures built by Developing World Connections' volunteers will continue to serve the beneficiary communities well. The significant financial contributions made by volunteers provide the much needed resources to sustain projects. However, the greatest legacy of a volunteer experience is what exists in the hearts and minds of all the people who worked together to improve the lives of others. Both the volunteers and the community stakeholders gain an enlightened sense of being good global citizens.

WEEKLY WEBCAST

Tuesdays 10am ET/7am PT

Developing World Connections believes that positive change and peace in the world is the necessary result of a growing consciousness among people who see themselves, above all else, as global citizens. The responsibility for peace begins with each person and extends through relationships of all kinds.

Conducting DWC Operations:

Developing World Connections is not a development or aid agency. Rather, it partners with other non-profit organizations who work for, and form part of, grassroots initiatives in developing countries. It connects volunteers with overseas partners who have a proven record of sustainable development and who value the benefit of connecting people. Developing World Connections commits itself to its partners and to the communities it serves for the long-term.

Developing World Connections is not affiliated with any religious or professional organization and caters to people of all ages, interests and skill levels. A normal group consists of young people who have fund-raised the entire cost, senior executives, professionals, retirees, and families. The youngest volunteer has been 13 and the oldest 83. There are also now university- and high school-specific groups.

Rather than placing its volunteer on individual long-term assignments, Developing World Connections focuses the efforts of its volunteer groups on two week experiences, with each group taking up the project where the previous group left off. Each group is accompanied by a trained team-leader who facilitates the project effort and coordinates accommodations, meals, transportation and cultural excursions. Each team leader is a past volunteer, an experienced traveler and is trained in basic emergency response and first aid.

Volunteers typically work on physical infrastructure projects such as homes, community centers, education facilities and medical facilities. Not only are these structures needed in the communities, but they offer an excellent venue for the volunteers and locals to work and to celebrate their tangible accomplishments together.

Each Developing World Connections' volunteer also contributes financially to the project he or she works on, thereby seeing personally that their donated funds meet their anticipated target.

Developing World Connections believes strongly that we must respect our host country’s culture and environment. As guests, we honour the goodwill extended to us during our visit by supporting local initiatives rather than leading our own. It is not our purpose to change the culture of our host country, but rather to embrace and better understand the differences that give equal value to each society. We believe the footprint we leave behind should be gentle, the friendships great, and the memories we bring home should positively and profoundly impact our lives.

Unique DWC Voluntary Service Projects:

In Cambodia, Developing World Connections is partnered with Bridges Across Borders who leads the participatory process and execution of an integrated community development plan in the village of Chamcar Bei. Bridges Across Borders' work exemplifies sustainable development practice by virtue of their community planning processes that serve as models for other communities.

Part Of The Philosophy

"Developing World Connections believes that positive change and peace in the world is the necessary result of a growing consciousness among people who see themselves, above all else, as global citizens. The responsibility for peace begins with each person and extends through relationships of all kinds."

Developing World Connections' volunteers work alongside local people in a supportive role, completing projects given priority by the village stakeholders themselves. The work of the volunteers is varied. For example, in Cambodia, activities include repairing community buildings, constructing domestic animal buildings, harvesting rice, organic gardening and conducting workshops with children.

Unique Voluntary Service Projects Being Adopted By DWC:

India has recently been added to the roster of countries where Developing World Connections' volunteers conduct sustainable projects. Developing World Connections is partnered with Sahyog Sansthan, a non-profit organization that supports rural communities with community-based education and development projects. Volunteers will work with rural subsistence farmers on the outskirts of Udaipur to build water-harvesting structures. The work forms part of a natural resource conservation and management initiative.

Unique DWC Tourism-Related Activities:

The experience of working side-by-side with local people itself proves to be an excellent way to understand and exchange culture. Developing World Connections' participants gain perspective on what life is really like for the majority of people in developing countries and connect with people in a way removed from the typical ‘tourist’ experience.

Though the main focus is the dynamic of the project experience, ample time is set aside during a trip to rest and enjoy the culture away from the worksite. Team leaders are happy to lead volunteers on evening and weekend excursions to local cultural events and locations.

In Cambodia, volunteers would be remiss not to enjoy the fresh seafood at the crab shacks or to have a crab picnic on Kep’s white sandy beaches. In Guatemala, volunteers enjoy the incredible history and heritage of the country’s ancient capital Antigua, a UNESCO world heritage site. In India, volunteers explore the palaces and forts of Udaipur, the ‘Venice of India’, and indulge in the romantic views and suburb shopping. In Sri Lanka, volunteers visit an elephant sanctuary, go turtle watching or just laze on the beach. No trip to Swaziland would be complete without visiting one of the wildlife reserves. In Peru, volunteers can visit the intriguing local markets of Huancayo and discover the mystique of the Andes.

Photo by Wayne McRann, Copyright © Developing World Connections, All Rights Reserved

We encourage volunteers to explore the richness of the host country by further exploring it before or after the project period. We are happy to make recommendations for the best of cultural tours and provide information on accommodations, restaurants, modes of transport and "must-experience" events and locations. Occasionally a Developing World Connections' team leader will participate in the cultural tour.

Note: Developing World Connections no longer conducts cultural tours. However, we do assist individuals in connecting with in-destination partners that can support such tours.

DWC Sample Itinerary:

Sample Sri Lanka Itinerary

Day 1

+ All volunteers arrive at Colombo Airport and are met by Developing World Connections' drivers. Transportation is immediate to Tangalle hotels and project site. Transport arrangements will be made for volunteers who cannot arrive with the majority of the group. Transport time is 5 – 7 hours depending on traffic. All meals at Palm Paradise Cabanas (PPC).

Day 2

+ Orientation session conducted by the team leader and project managers. Tour of the project site, completed and future projects and community schools, temples and other facilities and culturally important locations. Meals at PPC.

Days 3 – 7

+ Breakfast from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m.
+ First van leaves for project site at 7:00 a.m., second van at 7:30 a.m.
+ Sri Lanka style lunch at project site by local family
+ First van returns to hotel at 2:30 p.m., second van at 3:00 p.m.
+ Relax, beach time, etc. 3:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
+ Dinner at PPC or leave for dinner out at 6:30 p.m.
Note: Dinners at different restaurants on day 4 & day 7
+ Day 7 – Visit turtle beach – Watch giant turtles laying their eggs in the sand

Day 8

+ Leave hotel at 9:00 a.m. for tour of the local market, the community of Hambantota and the UdaWalawa elephant reserve.
+ Breakfast at PPC, lunch in Hambantota and dinner on the road.

Photo by Greg Rolfe, Copyright © Developing World Connections, All Rights Reserved

Day 9

+ Day of relaxation, beach time, community walking tour, visit the blow hole, visit largest Buddha statue in Sri Lanka, shopping, etc.
+ All meals at PPC

Days 10 – 12

+ Project site schedule as days 3 to 7
+ All meals at PPC
Note: Dinner at a different restaurant on day 10

Day 13

+ Breakfast at PPC
+ Leave 9:00 a.m. for Colombo, stop in Galle for tour, lunch and shopping
+ Arrive at Negombo hotel 6:00 p.m. for dinner, shower, relax
+ Transfer to airport
Note: for those doing a cultural tour at the end of the project, leave Tangalle at 9:00 a.m. Day 13

Contact Information:

Email: info@developingworldconnections.org
Developing World Connections
#220 – 141 Victoria Street
Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada V2C 1Z5
Toll Free (in North America): 1-866-458-8209 or 250-434-2524
Website: www.developingworldconnections.org

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