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Posts Tagged ‘rural development’

World Vision

Friday, February 20th, 2009


www.worldvision.co.nz

What do they do?
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome extreme poverty and injustice. World Vision New Zealand currently supports more than 70 projects in more than 25 countries.

How can I get involved?

  • Sponsoring a Child
  • Getting involved in a Charity Challenge (biking round Cambodia or climbing Mt Kilamanjaro are a few examples)
  • Volunteer to help run World Vision programmes in NZ
  • Participating in/running a 40-hour Famine
  • Donating directly
  • Getting involved in World Vision advocacy campaigns
  • Joining/starting a World Vision group at your school or university

Trade Aid

Friday, February 20th, 2009


www.tradeaid.org.nz

What do they do?
Trade Aid is a New Zealand founded, alternative trading organisation which has been working with craft producers and small farmers in developing countries around the world for 35 years. Trade Aid currently has 32 retail shops in both the North and South Islands and runs an extensive public education programme which aims to equip New Zealanders to speak out for greater justice in world trade.

How can I get involved?

Shop at Trade Aid! =D

Volunteer for Trade Aid - At Trade Aid there are opportunities to be a retail volunteer, speaker about Trade Aid issues to community or school groups, campaigner, education team member or a trustee. Get in touch with your local shop and see what you can get involved with today, sign up on-line at www.tradeaid.org.nz or pop in for a chat.

Caritas

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

caritas

www.caritas.org.nz

What do they do?

Caritas is the Catholic agency for justice, peace and development. Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is part of Caritas Internationalis, which is a confederation of 154 Catholic aid, development and social justice agencies from around the world. Caritas agencies work in over 198 countries: delivering aid, supporting development, and working for justice.

How can I be involved?

Donate!

Campaigning – Caritas are involved in many campaigns, including Aid, Children, Cluster Munitions Crime and Punishment, Debt, Environmental Justice, HIV and AIDS, Human Rights Make Poverty History Millennium Development Goals, Submissions to NZ Government, and Trade. They offer excellent resources on their website to help you join with them to take action on these issues.

Oxfam

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

oxfamvrgreen2highres

www.oxfam.org.nz

What do they do?

Oxfam is a Humanitarian organisation is dedicated to finding lasting solutions to poverty and injustice. Oxfam New Zealand was formed in1991, and has now developed an international reputation for its development work in the Pacific and East Asia, its focus on practical solutions to the emerging crisis in water and sanitation and its campaigning for rights.

How can I get involved?

  • Become an Oxfam campaigner - Campaign activities can range from spending two minutes on an email action through to fronting up to politicians to ask questions about their policies on aid, trade and debt.
  • Trailwalker Challenge - raise $2000 to help to overcome poverty and injustice by tackling 100km of tough NZ terrain
  • The Amazing Race - race other teams through Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand to raise money for Oxfam projects
  • Oxjam - a month of music with a message. NZ artists busk and throw concerts to raise awareness about Oxfam’s work. They are always looking for volunteers, organisers and fresh ideas and content.
  • ‘Good Books’ and gifts – Buy your books at the online store, and all profits go to Oxfam projects. You can also buy gifts for your friends and family that directly benefit poor communities.
  • Send them stamps – Yup, Oxfam will sort through your old stamps and sell them to collectors!
  • Volunteer – Oxfam are always on the lookout for help with their programmes.
  • Donate to Oxfam
  • Read a Publication – Oxfam produce high quality, up-to-date publications on Poverty and Development issues around the world. Expand your mind and read one today!

A year volunteering in South Africa

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Interview by Tessa Johnstone

felicitygibsonFelicity Gibson, 22, was interested in understanding other countries — not just seeing them through a camera or tour bus window. That’s why she took a year out from her degree to volunteer in South Africa and “gain a new perspective on the world.”

Felicity spent a year volunteering through an initiative organised by New Zealand Aotearoa-based Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) and University of Otago’s Geography Studies faculty. She worked as a Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, based in Students Partnership Worldwide’s (SPW) East London, South Africa office and regularly traveling to communities in the Eastern Cape to support volunteers working in the field.

SPW runs youth empowerment programmes in South Africa, primarily with the Xhosa people, in which local and international volunteers are paired up together and provide health education and awareness, training for job and life skills, help to set up clubs and activities for the community, set up resource and library centres, and facilitate peer education.

Felicity’s job was to go into the communities where the youth empowerment programmes were run, and come up with a good system to look at how the programmes were working for the community and the volunteers.

Youth is an extra bonus groupof4

Volunteering gives you a lot of work experience and job skills, which Felicity points out is invaluable for young people. Young people, as well, offer a lot to the organisations and communities they volunteer with.
“I think being young meant I had the right attitude going in to the experience. Many of the older volunteers I talked to were worried about how they were going to handle the different working environment and lack of resources.
“But because I had very little working experience, I had nothing to compare my job to and so was very adaptable to the environment and willing to give things a try.
“This lack of experience also meant that I did not go in their thinking that there was only one right way to do things and did not try and do every thing my own way. I was happy just to go with the flow and learn from others.
“I think volunteers must be open-minded to the fact that people have different sets of knowledge and be prepared to learn and share. It is very important that volunteers remember that they are there to help, not hinder an organisation.”

Daily life is an experience
Felicity feels lucky to have experienced both life in the South African office and that of her fellow international volunteers working in villages.
“I think all of us international volunteers had very rewarding experiences and each faced challenges unique to our situation. Most importantly we had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs together.”
Felicity lived in a small apartment in East London, but experienced the living conditions of volunteers working in smaller communities as well.
“Living in South Africa was certainly not easy. For example, while we lived in town, we could not leave the house after dark as we had no car and it was too dangerous to walk anywhere.
“In the rural communities, volunteers were placed in rondavels [mud huts] with a host family. Rondavels usually had one room where sleeping, eating and cleaning all occurred.”
All SPW volunteers experience very basic living conditions, often with no running water, though most have some electricity. Travel is done by shared minibus or taxi, which Felicity describes entertainingly as “long bumpy trips crammed with people”. There is no fridge, which limits volunteers to a vegetarian diet which includes a lot of local dishes.

Being the “Young White Girl”
spwvolunteersandypOne of the most difficult challenges for Felicity was adjusting to a different culture in South Africa.
“Things looked and felt like home in South Africa, but I was expected to act differently. For example, no one ever worried about running late. This was always frustrating to me when we were holding an event and I expected to arrive early to set up but everyone always arrived after the event was meant to start as they knew that all the people attending would be even later than that.”
Felicity also observed a lot of racism, which she says was very challenging.
“There is still a lot of cultural division in South Africa and I was amazed at the extremely racist comments dropped casually into a conversation by a taxi driver, waiter or my neighbour. While there are racists in New Zealand, most people hide it. In South Africa, people who were racist were very open about it.”
Some South Africans also had skewed perceptions of Felicity, as a “Young White Girl”.
“People’s perception of white people from overseas had often been formed from the movies and so I gained somewhat of a celebrity status. As there were not often young, white girls walking round where I lived or visited I got stared at and whispered about a lot. Some people thought I had a lot of money and could therefore give them my possessions.
“However, in other settings I could feel there was a lot of trepidation about a young, white girl coming into a community with a fear I was going to tell people how to live their lives.”

The biggest learning?
Felicity says the biggest learning for her was “the most obvious”.
“I learnt about how people with little money and resources live and how hard it is for people without opportunities, like I have had, to move forward in their lives.
“Take, for example, computers. You can go to a community and many people have never seen a computer. You may then go to a township where there might be ten old computers for a school of 800 pupils. Then you might find young university students who use computers as part of their school work, however because they have never had the opportunity to use them like we do, their skills are still very low. And then you get the minority at the top that a live life like we do here in New Zealand where using a computer is an everyday occurrence. This range extends to all parts of life, with the minority at the top gaining all the experience and education and more able to take advantage of opportunities than those at the other end of the scale.”

Coming home - with new perspectives and confidence

outsideworkshopFelicity got what she wanted in a travel experience, gaining insight into what South Africa was really like.
“I was very scared of travelling to South Africa because of the horror stories I’d heard. But the country I discovered was very different to those preconceptions. For the most, everyone in South Africa was so friendly and positive. I found it quite a shock to return to New Zealand which I had always thought of as being laidback to find that I now see us as quite a melancholy country. I also learnt about the many different cultures that make up South Africa, especially the Xhosa people.”
Felicity says she came back from South Africa a more mature person.
“Throughout the year I faced so many challenges that I am really quite a different person to the one I used to be. I have a very different perspective on the world and view things in different ways. I definitely am a lot more grateful for the life I live and therefore am more determined to make the most of what I have.”
Eric Levine, founder of SPW and long-time volunteer himself, says the experience also gives you a huge amount of confidence.
“Volunteers always tell me: I came thinking I was going to teach and I learned and took away much more than I taught’,” Eric says.
“They come away with confidence times 10 to a factor of 100 — to work in difficult, under-resourced, complicated situations and be successful in change — no matter what you do in your life, people constantly are like, I am capable, I have skills, I can figure out how to do stuff’.

Felicity is back at Otago completing her Geography degree in Development Studies, though she’s not sure what will happen after that.
“I definitely believe that I was very lucky to be born in New Zealand, and that gives me a sense of social responsibility to help others who were not so lucky, whether they are from developing countries or in New Zealand itself.”
spwtshirts
To find out more about Students Partnership Worldwide (SPW), who are working with Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) to place New Zealanders aged 18 — 28 in volunteer placements for six to nine months in Southern Africa, or the VSA/Otago University Univol programme, go to www.vsa.org.nz or www.spw.org.

The top photo shows Felicity with fellow SPW volunteer Greer Lamaro carrying water up from the stream in the village. All other photos courtesy of SPW volunteer training.


TAKE ACTION!

Want to volunteer, but not sure how to go about it ethically? Download VSA’s Volunteering Overseas Guide (1.6MB) or check out the ethical volunteering site for things to think about and tips on how to find a good organisation. And you can download Dev-Zone’s magazine, Just Change Issue 11: Good Intentions - The Ethics of Volunteering.


LEARN MORE:

South Africa country profile
Xhosa entry on wikipedia
http://allafrica.com/ news from Africa.