Archive for the ‘Volunteer organisations’ category

PRETOMA: Looking after turtles in Costa Rica

May 4, 2007

The Programa Restauracion de Tortugas Marinas (PRETOMA) has been looking after turtles in Costa Rica for over a decade. The organisation was setup in 1996 to assist with the yearly nesting of turtles on some of Costa Rica’s beaches. The turtles are diminishing in numbers and PRETOMA offers placements where volunteers look after and care for injured turtles and patrol the beaches when the turtles hatch.

Ingrid Yanez, project co-ordinator, feels that PRETOMA and the volunteers get a lot out of the placement.

She said: “The turtles are the big winners, they get protection from poaching and through work undertaken by volunteers where they support scientists then we get to find out more information about the species.

“Overall the volunteers give the turtles a better chance at survival.

“For the volunters, they get to help out on a conservation project that can save a species, it will educate them, they will grow themselves as people.”

The money that volunteers pay to travel to Costa Rica and take part in the conservation is important as it provides funding for the project, and the money the volunteers bring also helps sustain the local community.

Ingrid Yanez feels that the influx of volunteers to the project has been a good thing.

She said: “Personally I’ve made some great friends with the people who have come to volunteer, we’ve improved the prospects for the turtle population and it has also helped the local economy.”


Inspire Kenya: Animal conservation and community work

May 4, 2007

Inspire Kenya is an organisation that as Matthew Muckle, who founded and owns the company states: “Offers volunteering breaks for people to go and do worthwhile things in Kenya.” These worthwhile projects include working with orphans, wildlife conservation and Inspire Kenya now offers media placements at the Kenyan Times.

The company has been going since 2006 and unlike some other organisations Matt is keen to stress the focus is on the community and not the volunteer themselves.

He said: “We don’t have set dates that we book volunteers in for, they pick the length of time they want to go for. We want people who are willing to put the effort in, and live alongside and within communities.

“There are no frills with these trips, you will be living in remote villages and helping some very poor people try to lead a better life.”

The most popular placement that Inspire Kenya runs is working on conservation projects in the Masaai Mara wildlife park, where volunteers get to see elephants and cheetahs.

The projects that work in orphanages and children’s homes in and around Mombassa are also very popular.

Matt says: “It’s very rewarding work and it gives people an insight into how 70 per cent of the world actually live.

“The conservation projects are becoming very popular because they allow people to feel as though they are saving these animals and it also lets them get up close and personal with the animals.”

Inspire Kenya placements start from around £500 and include all meals and accommodation and a donation is made to the project that the volunteer works on from the payment.

Matt feels that Kenya is a good place to go and volunteer, mainly because it needs volunteers.

He said: “Kenya is a developing country and its infrastructure struggles at evry level. Kenya is safe, hot and the people are very friendly. They need volunteers to keep these community services running and we feel our volunteers will really make a difference, and feel that they have made a difference when they come home.”

Many Inspire Kenya volunteers have been so moved by their experiences that they have decided to sponsor and fund placements even after leaving for home. This sponsorship helps to sustain the projects for years to come.

Quest underseas: responsible and sustainable dive ecotourism

May 2, 2007

Chris Williams
Operations Manager, Quest Underseas

What does your organisation offer?

Offers people a chance to research marine conservation and get diving experience at the same time, in an ethical way because they are giving something back to the community.

Where do you run trips?

We have two destinations, Honduras and Mozambique.

We try to run trips that allow our volunteers to be involved in the research of something that is beneficial to the local communities and relevant to the marine wildlife in the location. In Honduras it’s about using some of the funding to research the impact on the coral reefs.

It’s a very hands-on experience, a lot of the students are writing dissertations on the subject area so for them to get to see turtles hatching on a beach it’s beneficial experience for their learning.

Mozambique is a new destination for us, we’ve only just started the project there. At the location there are already three dive operators but they don’t operate in a responsible way, there are no standards setup so the idea behind our trip is to offer the local community a chance to work with us to make sure that the marine wildlife is not being damaged too heavily by the influx of dive tourists.

We also runs social projects in the destinations, our last group in Mozambique funded a borehole which allows 260 people to be provided with clean drinking water. It gives our volunteers the chance to leave a lasting positive benefit on the area, rather than coming to dive, scaring the marine wildlife, and then leaving.

What are the main conservation projects at each location?

Honduras: Coastal erosion is damaging the coral reefs, this is due to overfishing and moving mangrove plantations that previously protected the reefs.

Mozambique: Badly managed dive tourism is affecting the marine wildlife, 30 people diving and scaring the hell out of a whale shark is not good for the long term sustainability if the reef. There’s no control, no structure and no best practice and the dive operators can make loads of money and not give anything back to the area. We want to change that and make it best practice for dive operators to start reinvesting in the local communities.

How much does it cost?

Honduras: for a month, £1,500
Mozambique: for a month, £1,900

We take teams of between 6-10 with us to the locations, we feel this is about the right number so that the impact is not too great. We also interview everyone before we go to make sure that they understand what we’re about and we also make sure they want to go for the right reasons.

Quest, our parent company, has been shortlisted for a number of responsible travel awards. The worrying thing about the explosion of meaningful travel is that it could just become an option extra that is tacked on the end of normal tourist trips. Eco tourism has usually been associated with a small number of dedicated organisations and volunteers, the danger is that it becomes too commercialised and then the effect that large groups have on an area defeats the whole purpose of eco tourism. It is good though that more people seem to be interested in volunteering overseas and making a difference.

Andean Outreach Programme: profile

April 3, 2007

Shona Kay
UK Director
Andean Outreach Programme

Been involved with helping setup the UK branch of Andean Outreach, I volunteered in South America and got really involved with my placement.

Our main aim is to source funds for volunteers who plan to go to Peru, Ecuador, Chile etc and undertake projects to help the local people. Volunteers apply to us, and we approve the project if we think it would be beneficial.

We have two organisation partners, ‘Light of Hope’ in Peru and ‘Los Del Mondo’ in Bolivia who provide financial backing and experience.

We have one volunteer in Peru who is helping to build toilets and improve the sanitation system for a community. At the moment there are only two toilets in the whole school, one for boys and one for girls, but with the help of $500 then our volunteer will help to improve the community. The idea is that volunteers think up the projects themselves, apply for the funding, plan everything and implement it themselves. There’s no middle man.

They get the satisfaction of going to somewhere else and really making a long-term difference to people’s lives. Some volunteers just go and teach for two weeks in a foreign country and they don’t see it making a difference, we feel that our projects will allow the volunteers to see something that is there, it’s physical and makes a lasting impact.

We’re hoping to give three grants out over the next year.

Habitat for Humanity: profile

April 3, 2007

Some information on Habitat for Humanity. Read the interview with Nathaniel Rogers who went with HFH to Alaska.

What is Habitat for Humanity?
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, non-denominational Christian housing charity. Our goal is to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world, and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. We invite people of all backgrounds, races and religions to build houses together in partnership with families in need.
We have built almost 200,000 houses around the world
Habitat for Humanity houses have improved over 3,000 communities
Nearly a million people now have safe, decent, affordable shelter.
HFH believes that decent housing is a fundamental human right and that inadequate housing impacts on the capacity to work (including education), on health (especially of mothers and children) and on gender equality (HFH works mostly with women). We believe that it is our moral and religious duty to ensure that we are part of a world where no one has to live in poverty; where everyone has access to food, shelter and clean water; to a livelihood, health and education. HFH also believes that work on shelter and housing ties the other basic human rights issues together effectively as a significant and necessary crosscutting intervention. Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller in Georgia, USA.

How does Habitat for Humanity work?
Through volunteer labour and donations of money and materials, we build and rehabilitate simple, decent houses with the help of homeowner (partner) families. Habitat for Humanity houses are sold to partner families for no profit – financed with affordable loans. The homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments go into the ‘Fund for Humanity’ and are used to build still more Habitat for Humanity houses.

Does Habitat for Humanity give houses away?
No. A Habitat for Humanity home is a hand up – not a handout. We build houses in partnership with families in need. The homeowner takes on a no-profit, interest free loan for the cost of the house. In addition to the monthly repayments, homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labour – sweat equity – into building their Habitat for Humanity house and the houses of others.

What does a Habitat for Humanity house cost?
Throughout the world, the cost of houses varies from as little as £950 in some developing countries to about £37,500 in Poland. In London, the average house costs £100,000. Habitat for Humanity houses are affordable for low-income families because there is no profit included in the sale price and no interest charged on the mortgage. Mortgage lengths vary from seven to 30 years.

What is Sweat Equity?
Homeowner partners put in hours of unpaid labour on Habitat for Humanity projects, as a requirement of their home ownership. Sweat equity reduces the monetary cost of the house and increases the personal stake of each family member in the home.

Sweat equity helps build a partnership between the homeowner family and the volunteers and staff. It is a key principle of Habitat for Humanity and is important in building partnerships across economic, racial and national divisions. The number of sweat-equity hours required of homeowners varies widely around the world, but is usually between 200 and 500 hours. It is safest to say that hundreds of sweat-equity hours are required of homeowners.

How are families selected for a Habitat for Humanity home?
Families in need of decent shelter apply to local Habitat for Humanity affiliates. The affiliate’s selection committee chooses homeowners based on their need, their willingness to partner with HFH and their ability to make the interest free mortgage repayments.

How are the housing projects managed?
HFH works from the grass-roots level by engaging potential homeowners in decision-making at all stages. We guide local community groups to elect a management committee for the housing project and then provide training in the following areas:
Project management
Beneficiary (home-partner) selection
Construction and maintenance
Finance and budget management
Debt repayment
Health education
Community development
Good governance

The management committee chooses the home-partners regardless of race, religion or gender in line with HFHs’ equal opportunities policy. Home-partners work with HFH and the management committee to determine:
The housing solution required (renovations, upgrading or new construction)
Whether it will be carried out in stages or in one operation
How they will repay the micro-credit loan, either by saving a certain amount first or by repaying over an agreed number of years.

Home-partners can therefore balance their housing solution to their incomes in order to make it decent, yet affordable. HFH staff, volunteers, the local management committee and beneficiaries all work together on the construction of safe, decent and affordable homes and the provision of sanitation and clean water.

Do you have to be a Christian to qualify for a Habitat for Humanity house?
While Habitat for Humanity is a faith-based organisation, every affiliate follows a nondiscriminatory policy of family selection. Race and religion (or gender or nationality) are not factors in selecting families to become Habitat for Humanity homeowners.

Where do the mortgage repayments go?
Payments go back to the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate, into the revolving Fund for Humanity. These payments are used to build more homes.

How does Habitat for Humanity prevent profiteering from the sale of houses?
Each homeowner family signs a sale and purchase agreement for the cost of their house. The sale is paid for with a Habitat for Humanity mortgage, which is the amount the homeowner is required to repay. Our interest in the house is protected by a legal charge, which progressively transfers the equity of the home to the family – starting at year five of the mortgage. Habitat for Humanity’s commitment to gift the equity sum may be suspended or cancelled completely if there are serious breaches of the homeowner’s obligations under the mortgage.

What is HFH’s organisational structure?
HFH is an independent and legally registered charity in all countries of operation. Each National Office recruits local staff and has its own independent management and/or board of directors. The National Offices assist the affiliates and management committees in-country to achieve their goals and report back to one of the Habitat for Humanity Regional Offices: Europe and Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Asia/Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean and America. These Regional Offices work with Habitat for Humanity International and Habitat for Humanity Great Britain on long-term strategy and goals and provide the focus point for funding decisions, training, service and systems provision, learning and sharing of best practice and information. Each national office’s aim is to become financially self sufficient through local fundraising with individuals, businesses, foundations, organisations and institutions.

HFH has consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at the United Nations, Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs; a formal Agreement of Cooperation with UN Habitat (United Nations Human Settlements Programme); and is a member of BOND. As co-founders of the International Housing Coalition (IHC), a newly formed organisation to promote decent ‘housing for all’, HFH also works with the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, USAID and other public and private sector partners and this year presented case studies on global housing issues at the UN’s World Urban Forum, Vancouver, Canada. HFH also has a formal Memo of Understanding with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Leap: gap year placements

April 3, 2007

Guy Whitehead

The Leap

1. What does The Leap do?

Check out our website

2. What sort of age profile The Leap caters for?

18 – 60

3. Why has taking a ‘career gap’ become so popular?

People like it, employers are more interested in helping staff, it keeps
people fresh and is a good tool for retaining key staff

4. Do you have any ‘case studies’ I can speak to who have used your services and would be happy to speak to me?

Our website has lots of feedback, I don’t wish to give you names to call
unless I know more about what it will lead to or be used for and if there
are any benefits to the leap

5. Do you have any pictures I can use for the article about The Leap?

I would be happy for you to use a few of ours on our site but you would need
to tell me which ones you are suing and then credit those to us with our
name and weblink please.

Note: The Leap has some really cool flash photo galleries of people out on placements, really well put together. Check this one out, it’s their Africa one.

CAS Nepal

April 3, 2007

1. What does your organization do?

CAS-Nepal is a non-profit making, non-political community based organization. It was registered with Nepal Government-Chitwan in 2000 & with Social Welfare Council-Nepal in 2001 by highly enthusiastic board members. The primary goal of CAS-Nepal is to make community self -dependent & developed through utilization of local, national and international resources .A special focus is given to uplift the social and economic status of poor and indigenous people through various aid oriented programs. The Organization always deals with people of countryside community offering them some sort of profit making training on business skills, new technology on agriculture and animal husbandry, high value crops and access to market for small farmers and other programs on education and health and sanitation. This offers unique volunteering opportunities for those who want to render their services and support to communities.

2. How many years has it been running?

The community based organization has been running since 2000 A.D focusing on community development.

3. Where is it based?

This organization was registered with Nepal government in Chitwan district. The main office is in chitwan and contact office in kathmandu. It always seeks for rural communities of other districts as well even if it was registered in Chitwan. We have more other rural placements :Nawalparasi,kathmandu,Pokhara And Lumbini of Nepal.

4. What activities does your organisation offer volunteers?

Community Advancement Society-Nepal lets you a chance to make an important contribution to the people of Nepal and great experience to self by understanding culture and its people. One could have lots of knowledge and experience about the assigned work, Nepali culture, its people and people’ economic status. CAS-Nepal opens your door to see yourself and to help others as well.

It offers volunteering opportunities in the following program areas.

Teaching English in School and Village Learning Center (VLC).
Raise awareness on sanitation and environmental issues.
Develop income generating &training projects on weaving, craft skills, business & marketing skills etc.
Provide administrative support and computer trainings.
Sponsorship Programs (Child Sponsorship, Project Sponsorship& School Sponsorship).
Provide primary health education &health check up.
Financial & expertise support to small farmers.
Research opportunities on desired areas

5. How many volunteers does your organisation help a year?

This organization has been tailored its volunteering approaches to lessen the poverty of rural communities and develop communities through utilization of foreign knowledge and financial aid. We have started our volunteering opportunities just some months back. We aim to tap the school kids, young people and community people for their joint efforts to community development. We aim to bring about 80 volunteers from abroad annually and 40 volunteers from local community.

6. What do people get out of going on a placement with your organisation?

One could have lots of knowledge and experience about the assigned work, Nepali culture, its people and people’ economic status. CAS-Nepal opens your door to see yourself and to help others as well. You would have chance to see the real pictures of rural communities of Nepal. We also provide research opportunities to conduct on volunteers’ desired field. We make placement in such families and locations where volunteers wouldn’t have to worry about their stay and safety. our organization provides accommodation and foods during your volunteering period.


8. How much does a placement with your organisation cost? What does that cost include?

Volunteering in CAS-Nepal is totally funded by volunteers’ fees. We have affordable program cost which includes Application fee and Program fee. We are trying to lesson the cost of volunteering so that anyone could have chance to participate with us.

Application fee: $25

Program Cost:

– Two weeks $250
– One month $350
– One and half month $440
– Two months $530
– Three months $660
– Four months $740
– Five months $800

The above cost includes the following:
– Transportation to and from Kathmandu airport.
– Transportation to and from Placements.
– Accommodation and meal during training period and placement.
– Nepali language and cultural information class.
– Administrative cost.
– Contribution to CAS-Nepal projects e.g. Child learning center and youth mobilization activities in village