If I ever need to feel positive about the impact volunteers can have, I go to the VSO website and read the “life-changing stories” section. I worked for VSO for nearly 6 years and during that time I was responsible for advising volunteers hoping to go overseas and finding them a placement. I worked primarily with health professionals -doctors, nurses, midwives, biomedical scientists, pharmacists, NHS managers. Reading their stories really inspires and enriches me. These volunteers not only brought their clinical skills to hospitals in Africa and Asia but they also trained many local health workers and nursing and medical students in Universities, often leaving a lasting legacy. Although my blog has mostly been about volunteer tourism rather than long-term skill sharing volunteering placements, I always seem to come back to this as the most effective model for long term development.
Here are some examples:
These are all volunteers that I supported and placed so it also gives me a personal sense of satisfaction that I helped to make these placements happen and that was my small part in helping to improve healthcare in developing countries!