Are you thinking about volunteering abroad, but can only commit to a couple of weeks? We know life can be busy. Setting aside months to go abroad and support community development isn’t always realistic. But it’s hard to know if a short volunteer trip abroad is worth it. Can you really make a difference in that time? The short answer is: yes, you can!
Making a real impact is very important to us. It’s at the heart of everything we do. It’s also why we have specific structures in place to ensure that short-term volunteers can have long-term impact.
Our initiatives are founded on management plans, a specialised database for tracking our work, and annual impact reports. In this way, we ensure you’re always building on the work of the past, and preparing for contributions by future volunteers. We also offer several one-week volunteer abroad trips. These have been carefully selected by our staff. They know that with the structures we have in place, you can still make an impact in just a week.
Specially developed management plans
Having a plan means we can ensure our work, and your work as a volunteer, achieves specific end goals.
You may not see a tangible difference during your short volunteer trip. You can be assured that we are taking great strides forward together. Each of our initiatives builds on previous work and takes us one step closer to reaching our goals.
Our Global Impact Database
But how can we be sure we’re really making a difference if we don’t measure our work? We can’t. That’s why we’ve developed our own specialised tool to track the achievements of all our volunteers and projects around the world. This tool is our Global Impact Database.
The Global Impact Database was specially designed so that we can better track our progress across different projects. It serves as a monitoring and evaluation tool, that not only helps us to gather data to inform our operational decisions and strategies, but also tracks improvements in areas of development within the communities we serve. By centralising data, we can ensure greater continuity between short-term volunteers so they build on each other’s work and contribute towards these long-term improvements. A Nutrition volunteer may be able to, for example, generate a list of community members found to have blood sugar levels above the normal range, so we can closely follow up with them during future visits. - Jenny Puyo, Head of Programme Development.
As a volunteer, you might find yourself working with the database. You’ll input data after a community healthcare outreach or tick off early childhood development checklist items as you work with children. With our staff and volunteers consistently updating the database, we can start to build a picture of the progress we’re making.
For example, we can monitor the numeracy levels of a specific child’s profile. We can see whether the child is improving and gauge what’s working and what isn’t. This way, we can tailor the way we work with this specific child. Elsewhere, thanks to patient profiles, we can also monitor changes in community groups’ vital signs, such a blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and BMI levels, among others.
The database is completely secure and anonymous. We want to make sure we monitor and evaluate without compromising the privacy of the people we work with.
Our Impact Report for high school students doing short-term volunteering abroad
We also have an impact report focused on the achievements of our High School Special volunteers. These short volunteer trips are usually geared towards creating resources that make a tangible difference in the long-term. For example, you might repair and renovate a structurally unsound classroom, giving students a safe place to learn for years to come.
Read more about the achievements of our latest teenage volunteer groups in our 2018 High School Special Impact Report.
Our favourite success stories
We’ve chosen two of our favourite success stories that have come about because of our long-term goals.
Combating climate change in Fiji
For our Conservation Project in Fiji, we’ve partnered with a local resort, Fiji Uprising. With their help, we set out the long-term plan to plant enough mangroves to make them the first carbon-neutral resort in Fiji.
Each volunteer contributed towards the ever-growing number of mangroves being planted, whether it was through tending to the saplings in the nursery, planting them along the coast, or collecting new propagules.
By the end of 2018, through the work of each of these volunteers, we were able to achieve our goal. Fiji Uprising is officially the first-of-its-kind carbon-neutral resort in Fiji!
Rebuilding schools in Nepal
In April 2015, a devastating earthquake struck Nepal. In the wake of the destruction, thousands of school students were left without a safe place to learn. Our volunteers stepped in to help rebuild schools in Kathmandu valley.
In just 20 months, 500 volunteers built nine schools and 96 classrooms. This work meant over 2,000 children could go back to school! These volunteers played an important role in ensuring students could continue to learn and build a brighter future for themselves.
So if you’re considering a short-term volunteer opportunity with us, rest assured that you’ll be playing an important part in the bigger picture. As an organisation, we recognise that it’s our duty and privilege to make sure our volunteers and projects really do facilitate growth and development.
With all of these structures in place, we’ve got the long-term outlook covered, so you can concentrate on your placement work knowing you’re contributing to something bigger.