Positive stories of volunteering

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:

http://www.vso.org.uk/about/stories/reducing-the-surgical-death-rate-in-ethiopia

http://www.vso.org.uk/about/stories/targeting-tb-uganda-%E2%80%93-dr-simon-blankley

http://www.vsointernational.org/story/25908/small-change-big-difference%3A-joanna-haworth-in-sierra-leone

http://www.vso.org.uk/about/stories/malaria-prevention-in-the-villages-of-miirya

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!

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About natashastein

I'm interested in travel, learning about other countries and cultures, responsible tourism, environmental issues and wildlife. I like being outdoors and beautiful scenery can really move me and reinvigorate me. I enjoy walking and am planning to get a rescue dog to keep me company on my strolls. I also love to write stuff. I've set up my own website (www.responsiblevolunteering.co.uk), written blogs on topics I'm interested in and written various articles about volunteering overseas. I've always enjoyed writing in my previous jobs. I'm a bit of a creative all rounder - I can draw and make things. It's something I'd like to do more of! I love art and photography and go to exhibitions when I can. I am currently teaching English as a second language in Worcestershire, where I live. I have an eclectic career story. My professional background is in travel and tourism and the charity sector. I have worked for a major holiday company, specialist tour operator and coordinated a University alumni travel programme. Most recently I've worked for a Destination Management Organisation and local government tourism department focusing on promoting the Cotswolds primarily via social media. I also worked for VSO, the international development volunteering charity for 6 years as a Volunteer and Placement Adviser and have done bits and bobs of volunteering with different charities.
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One Response to Positive stories of volunteering

  1. gavin bate says:

    No doubt that VSO has a good model for long term sabbaticals, but the question is whether short term volunteering trips can achieve the same developmental aim. VSO has long term development as it’s aim, whereas most companies selling short term volunteering trips have profit as their aim.
    The trick is to combine the two; a company can provide logisitics and the usual aspects of transport, accommodation and even activities, but still with long term development as the main consequence of the trip. This requires knowledge of development, which is a highly complex subject, and a business model which includes putting part of the profits into the destination.
    I don’t think that the only positive stories need to come from VSO, I have been in development work for 25 years and the set-up that I have, which offers both long and short term positions for either skilled or unskilled people, is incredibly fulfilling and positive and beneficial, and it promotes the most up-to-date principles of development. Like you, I sense that it has been a great journey so far!

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