I was a VSO volunteer in The Gambia, West Africa on July 2007 - July 2009. I was assigned as Socio-Rural Livelihood advisor in the 2 NGO's base in Kerewan North Bank Region. My significant contribution to the people where I worked was the introduction of technology in converting the garbage or waste by products of animals, grains, and other materials into an organic fertilizers. The organic fertilizers was an alternative to the synthetic fertilizers for the women farmers who produced vegetables in their garden. It was also a breakthrough in the conservation of soil affected by constant and prolong used of chemicals that leads to the desertation in the Gambia.

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J'incite les jeunes filles qui ne vont pas à l'école à y aller et encourage celles qui y vont à se donner d'avantage car le monde de demain sera aussi dirigé par les femmes. Elles devront contribuer au développement de la famille, du pays et du monde.
Je parle aux jeunes filles de risque qu'il y a à contracter les grossesses très tôt; à avoir les rapports sexuels non protégés et à avoir plusieurs partenaires par ce temps qui court où le sida et les MST font rage.

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Je veux lutter contre les violences faites aux femmes surtout l'excision qui est une pratique encore existante ans nos societés africaines aujourd'hui, et les violences conjugales dont est victimes beaucoup de nos soeurs.

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I became a volunteer last February 2008. This is a promise that I made to myself after undergoing a major operation.
Education is essential to each kid. Being a volunteer at a foundation for kids battling with cancer is a life changing experience for me. Trying to create alternatives to their school days, we must become patient, creative and dedicated. Teaching, story telling, bonding and playing with the kids are our routine whenever we visit them at the hospital. Our goal is to keep them fight for their lives and go through days with smiling eyes. It's heartbreaking yet rewarding to spend time with these kids. Together with the kids' parents, the doctors, nurses and other volunteers, we hope and strengthen each other to make the most out of each day...

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I Volunteer for Zawadi Africa Education Fund. The programme operates in four(4) African countries and the United States of America (USA). I work with Teresa at the Ghana office. With my work, I see smiles on people faces each year as girls who never dreamt of College Education in the USA finds themselves in top US Universities. I love my work and I love the fact that we are helping train the next generation of women leaders who will help transform the Continent. Like our saying ''Dada Kwa Dada'', Our students and board live as a family of one with ''Each One, Teaching One'' Collins Owusu Bempah
Zawadi Africa Education Fund, Ghana
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Coordeno um grupo de voluntários, que fazem intervenções cênicas em hospitais para o público infantil e adulto. Trabalhamos a quatro anos nessa iniciativa. Nosso objetivo é transformar o ambiente hospitalar com a alegria do palhaço. Já mobilizamos durante esses anos mais de 300 pessoas para o voluntariado e atendemos cerca de 5.000 pessoas internadas, familiares, e profissionais de saúde.
Médicos do Humor - Tudo na ponta do nariz!

Talise Schneider
Pedagoga, atriz, palhaça, bailarina.

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My name is Kathy. I am currently volunteering at the Nelson Environment Centre, Nelson, New Zealand, updating and improving a document on regional waste management. It provides information for the local community - both residents and businesses - on how to reduce, reuse and/or recycle all sorts of waste products; from agricultural chemicals to electronic waste or paper and plastics. The centre thereby tries to raise awareness on how much of the things that are usually brought to landfills can actually be recycled, or needs to be extracted otherwise due to e.g. hazardous qualities of a product.

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A Social Divide: Horticulture Industry Development, an alternative to Food Security and Income Security for the Women of the Rural Gambia, West Africa Rolando Sato Albino
Food Security and Livelihood Adviser (Philippines)
Returned Volunteer,
Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) The Gambia Africa “Vegetable production is a lucrative economic venture and the source of our food and income. However, we could not get reasonable economic returns on our produce.” For eighteen months (18 months) I worked as a Volunteer to VSO Secure Livelihood Program in the Gambia, Africa providing technical support to VSO partner organization named Agency for the Development of Women and Children (ADWAC). As a Food Security and Environmental Management Advisor my jobs includes providing technical back-up to the Senior Management Team especially to the Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Programs on Food Security program planning and program delivery. The area includes food security assessment and participatory planning with the partners and the community. During this period, I worked closely with my counterparts in sharing my skills and my exposures on programme and project development and management. Basically, the trust of the agency is to combat poverty, eradicate discrimination and marginalization of the rural poor with particular emphasis on empowering the status of women and children. The corner stone of the agency programmes is the involvement and active participation of the beneficiaries in the development process. In this regard its evolution can be attributed to having a” bottom up “approach an essential ingredient for successful planning. The livelihood activities in the North Bank Region are farming, livestock grazing, among others. The women of this area are mostly affected with problems associated with land than their male counterparts. In all rural communities women can mainly access agricultural land through their husbands or heads of households. Research has also shown that access and control to most of the productive resources, including land, is male dominated. I general, agriculture is the most important sector of the country in which more than half of the population worked in agriculture and its contribution to the Gross Domestic product is 29.8% with an annual growth rate of 6.5% and it was employing approximately 80% of the workforce. (www.state.gov/pa/ie). However in the past 30 years agriculture has been in a deep crisis, due to rainfall deficit, decrease in production due to poorer soil and salt intrusion, constant decrease in prices for producers and delays in payments and the impoverishment and growing indebtedness of rural populations. Facing the decrease in agricultural production and the weakness of off-farm activities, the population have increased the pressures on different natural resources and have exploited them in increasingly anarchic ways to satisfy their daily needs. Therefore, due to the climatic risks and the current economic situation, population, like all other countries in the sub-region, shows increasing poverty and malnourishment. More than half the population live under the poverty line. The women and children are the principal victims, since they form more than two thirds of the population.
The two decades of drought, beginning in the 1970s, prompted hundreds of women's groups in the country to intensify fruit and vegetable production in low-lying communal garden projects. Historically, according to the gender division of labor in this region, men have grown groundnuts (peanuts) and the coarse grains (millet, sorghum, and maize) on upland fields during the rainy season. Their domination of groundnut production, the country's main source of foreign exchange, translated into control over most of the cash income generated through agriculture. The rapid commercialization of vegetable production took place during this period of low rainfall and was permitted partly by the adoption of rice seed varieties that can be harvested as much as two months earlier, thus freeing women to take up other responsibilities. Instead of producing solely to meet household food needs, women now devote a greater proportion of their labor to irrigated cash crops grown during the dry season. Many women gardeners began to earn more money from their crop sales than their husbands did from groundnuts.
With these cash incomes, women have taken on major new household financial responsibilities including food and clothing, responsibilities borne either solely or primarily by men prior to the communal vegetable garden boom.
As I quoted earlier: “Vegetable production is a lucrative economic venture and the source of our food and income. We could not however, get reasonable economic returns on our produce”.
These are the voices of the women groups in the villages that I worked with. They are the women that produce fruits and vegetables for their foods and a source of their income for their family needs in sending their children to school, for medical purposes, investment, savings among other things. Although these women are working in a communal garden, , they are however selling their crops in an individual basis making them vulnerable to the exploitation of the middle men as they don’t have a bargaining power for a better and reasonable prices and competing among themselves in the market.
The potential however is that the market demand of fruits and vegetable is continuously growing both in the local and international market. The demand further increases during tourist season that falls on the months of October to May.
The cultivation of horticultural crops has always been at the core of the Gambian rural social system with a very large variety of crops grown country wide. These crops are traditionally produced on small holder plots on an individual basis and most of this production is carried out in the dry season when women, the principal participants, are not active in cultivating and planting crops with very little attention given to yields and quality of the vegetable produced. This is the challenged however on how the women producer could gain much more return from their vegetable production. The consumers especially the hotels and restaurants require a consistent supply, quality fruits and vegetables and a variety of fruits and vegetables. To this end, I trained my local counterparts and partner stakeholders on how to develop and conduct a market chain research and market development using a tool Asset Based Community Development (ABCD). The tool focuses on investigating the existing asset and potentials of the community especially the women and building a plan out from it.
A four man team researchers was formed with my technical back-up and advises. The team conducted the survey in the hotels and restaurants, vegetable stalls and the traditional markets. The purpose of data collection at this level is to collect information on the type of fruits and vegetables and volume of demand each months, to collect the marketing trend for the past ten years, the required quality and to build an initial contacts for the potential market outlet of vegetable of the women vegetable growers. Alongside is the focus group discussions (FGD) conducted in the villages with the women groups. The data that were collected were the production capacity of the women group including the indigenous technologies in place in producing a variety of crops, the existing organizational capacity and the governance issues. The baseline data collected in the community and market level was presented in the community for validation and action planning. It was further presented in the presence of stakeholders (private entities, government agencies, NGO’s and civil society organizations) that gained further support for collaboration in extending their support to women vegetable grower to penetrate the market. It should be noted that the community and stakeholder presentation of the research paved the way for the women to give birth to consolidate themselves as one Women Vegetable Growers Association in Njaba-Kunda Eco-Zone comprising of six (6) villages as a pilot area in consolidating all the vegetable growers in the whole region of North Bank. The association was able to consolidate their plans and aspirations and the systems and existing norms and policies was enhance that was the bases for putting up the systems and policies. Now, I could saw the gains of the things I did.: I left the place to which I said the women opened their eyes and heart for more empowered sector towards development that they will be dealing in the market directly and their vulnerability to shocks will be lessen as they will improve their food production for food security and nutrition, increase income and be more competitive to both local and international markets. As a matter of fact the association is getting more dynamic and the management committee conducted a training need assessment and the setting up of internal rules policies that will be govern them. In preparation to production season, they are preparing their members and conducted training on new production technologies and a leadership and management training. A month ago, I received an email from my counterpart colleague that they received a funding for the women program development. For sustainability, one of the training workshops that I facilitated was the training for Para-professionals that came from relevant partner stakeholders. It gave them a clear view on how they will be a part for market chain development for the welfare of our women and children. This Multi-discipline team of facilitators (MDFT’s), the Women Association and ADWAC are all guided with the concept on Program Framework that will lead them for market development in ensuring a food security and income security to the household.

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I have been a volunteer for 11 years, my work has transformed lives of people across the Globe from US, Canada, Rwanda , Australia ... Raising awareness, advocating and improving lives of young people have been my priority. I have heard many testimonies from different people and Organization I was volunteering with on How my work has changed lives. I believe Volunteerism have a big role in our society, it is one of the easy way to make a difference in our communities. I always say to people that you may not have money but you have time and you can use to make a difference in some one is life. Volunteerism has change personal my life and others lives. Yannick Tona, Rwanda-Kigali

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I Felix Zamar, a licensed Social Worker from the Philippines. I volunteered in 2004-2005 in Kazakhstan as advisor to Crossroad Foundation of Kostanai to strengthen National Volunteering in the Oblast. I was the volunteer HRD advisor for Penama Province, Republic of Vanuatu from 2008 to 2010. And I did the scoping of the National Volunteer Office of Papua New Guinea from Sept to Dec 2010 for the purpose of assessing the capacity of the organization to absorb long term VSO volunteers. My main task in the three placement is mainly to strengthen structures that will maximize volunteer action in their respective countries.

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