Find out what some of our previous volunteers have had to say about their projects!
Karonga Women's Rice Group - Malawi
Our stay in Karonga, Malawi, was an amazing experience. For two months, we lived together in a rented house in a village called Malema Two. We quickly discovered we were terrible cooks, and so it was suggested to us that we should have a housekeeper to help us - that’s when a lovely young woman called Josephine moved in with us as well. We quickly discovered that we weren’t the best builders in the world either, but we were able to help with our project by moving bricks to wherever they were needed on site. This allowed us to get to know the local workers, and some of them starting visiting us at our house in the evenings. Josephine and a man called Newton, our host, also showed us around the village, and we were able to meet various of their friends and family.
We were working on the construction of a rice warehouse for the Karonga Women’s Rice Group, a local cooperative. Though we were unable to finish the project completely by the time we left, the building is almost finished now, and will soon be used for the storing and processing of rice, and also as a centre for business management training. We also had the pleasure of visiting a soap-making centre in a nearby town called Rumphi, successfully built with the assistance of EGP two years ago. There, the women involved in the project showed us the soap-making process, fed us a delicious meal and gifted us each a bar of their soap, which we used to wash our clothes for the rest of our time in Karonga.
Luisa Gillies, Volunteer 2018
Envirocare - Tanzania
We spent two months in Tanzania this summer volunteering for the organisation Envirocare, which is fighting deforestation and working to help people transition into sustainable agricultural practices through agroforestry. We stayed in Mpemba, a dusty little town near the border of Zambia, where we lived in a house alongside Chris, the leader of Envirocare, and his wife Veronica. The project consisted of two things: First, going to schools and teaching students about the impacts of deforestation and climate change. Second, establishing tree nurseries with the schools. A tree nursery is a small patch of land where tree seeds are planted with the intention of being relocated once they sprout, so that they can be replanted in areas affected by deforestation. This is needed work in Tanzania, as most of the population rely on firewood as their source of fuel, and this is leading to widespread deforestation.
We visited 21 schools during our time in Mpemba. Many of them were situated far into the remote countryside, and we had to travel along extremely bumpy roads in cars that frequently broke down to get to them. In one memorable incident, the exhaust pot completely fell off our car as we were trying to cross some train-tracks in a five-seater filled with nine people. The students we taught were very curious about us, and at every school, once the roughly two hour lesson (Covering the importance of trees, deforestation, climate change and agroforestry) was over, and the tree nursery had been established, there was about a half hour or more at the end of the day that never failed to turn into a photoshoot in which both students and teachers participated eagerly. After the work day was over, we would get back to the house and sit around and read our books, play cards and have dance parties. We had a great time, and were happy to aid in the important work that Chris and Envirocare is doing.
Oskar Granskogen, Volunteer 2018
Mitraniketan - India
In July 2015 eight volunteers travelled to Kerala in South India to work with local Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Mitraniketan. EGP has completed projects with Mitraniketan on a number of occasions over recent years and we got to see the successful work of previous volunteers during our stay. Our team worked on a women’s nutrition and livelihood project, building over 100 income generating chicken coops in six weeks, which will help to economically empower rural women and their families. The coops also featured a revolutionary new design, made of steel rather than wood, which allows the women to collect the eggs more easily as well as collecting the droppings for use as fertiliser. All of the volunteers threw themselves into the work and we had a fantastic time working alongside the Mitraniketan engineers in their workshop.
A personal highlight of our time on working on the project was when over 500 chickens were delivered and we had to spend an entire day rounding them up, or should I say chasing them around the workshop, before the coops could be delivered to the beneficiaries. Delivering the chicken coops was an incredibly rewarding experience as we realised just how much this meant to the beneficiaries and we knew that our efforts, both in Edinburgh and in Mitraniketan, had been so valuable to them. We used our free time to teach in the local school, although it’s fair to say we learned just as much from the children as they did from us. It’s also not an overstatement to say that all of the people we met in our host community were incredibly hospitable and friendly towards us. We were treated to some absolutely amazing food and they were always keen for us to experience their culture and traditions – we were even invited to a Hindu wedding! It was a fantastic experience and we were all gutted to be leaving our host community at the end of our project.
Richard Lovell, Volunteer 2015
HPR - Rwanda
Our EGP project was a social project partnered with Healthy People Rwanda, a NGO that focuses on promoting health rights and education in Rwanda. The initial proposal was the creation of a sexual health education programme that would be implemented in 8 schools surrounding the Rwandan capital of Kigali. With a fundraising target of over £6000, we all found it pretty daunting and there were times that we felt extremely disheartened and the target felt a long way away (mainly after very unsuccessful event nights and awkward bucketing failures). However, we worked as a team to keep motivated and thanks to some very successful sponsored events; we exceeded our target by £2000 allowing us to expand the project while we were there!
We implemented the curriculum in 8 more youth clubs reaching over 2400 children overall; provided a two day teaching course for the teachers in the area; as well as holding a basketball competition for students at the schools and youth clubs to take part in. We took advantage of having the weekends free and travelled around much of Rwanda including a visit to the beautiful Lake Kivu and a safari trip in Akagera National Park. The Rwandan community were so generous and welcoming towards us and we have come home with many stories involving mad bus journeys, goat skewers, UN dinners, and of course the wild clubbing scene of Kigali, to mention just a few. It was an incredible life experience and one that none of us will be forgetting.
Rachel Writer-Davies, Volunteer 2015
YES! - Tanzania
On the 7th of June 2015, eight of us set off from Gatwick airport on the 16 hour flight to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. We arrived at 3.30am and went straight off to our base, a convent and hostel, in the Vingunguti district of Dar. Although we were EGP volunteers, we were also working with an NGO – YES! Tanzania, who work with communities throughout the country to ensure youth empowerment in sport. Our project was to build a multi-purpose sports pitch; basketball and volleyball, for the local community who had requested this. We also did some coaching and teaching English.
The first two weeks comprised on long days of hard manual labour. The site needed to be cleared and flattened, which without machinery, meant a lot of tedious digging and moving soil. By week three, bricks were laid and the site was ready to be concreted – this was very exciting – it was the first actual mark of a pitch! Following this painting, and putting up the posts was all that followed. Then came the opening ceremony day and all the community came down to celebrate the opening of the pitches. The day included: a volleyball and basketball match, a cultural performance from Msimamo youth educators, continual singing and dancing and even a game of musical toilets! It was so special to see the pitches finished, and to see how happy the community were.
We were also fortunate to have been able to travel around Tanzania and Zanzibar and attend the East Africa Cup – a football and volleyball tournament set-up to bring communities together learning the values of friendship, respect and fair play. It was wonderful to see the boys and girls of different countries, religions and cultures, coming together both on the sports field and in the evenings through cultural performances. The people, their happiness and hospitality, alongside the beautiful physical environment in Tanzania, made my trip the best six weeks of my life. I will never forget the people I met in Tanzania, and I do hope to see them again someday. As for our EGP team, we met most weeks to exchange Tanzania chat and I hope we will continue doing so long into the future. Asante rafiki!
Freya Pratt, Volunteer 2015
Community Support Mision - Tanzania
Nestled in the north-western corner of Tanzania, we had an incredibly eye-opening summer creating a new partnership with Community Support Mission (CSM) over the course of eight weeks, a small organization devoted to the pursuit of economic development and self-sufficiency in its region. Along with seven other volunteers, our mornings were filled with hot chapatti breakfasts and a 3 km trek to our building site on the precipice of a breath-taking, expansive valley. We spent our days assisting local skilled labour building a maize mill and installing a maize processor, and spent our afternoons playing football with kids from our village in our backyard. Fifty percent of the profits from the sale of the maize flour are going into a SACCO’s scheme, thirty percent into a savings scheme and twenty percent towards mill maintenance. We also installed thirteen utility poles leading from the road to the maize mill, providing the surrounding homes with the opportunity to tap into an electrical source for the first time.
I witnessed the purest form of gratitude I’ve ever seen that summer, and that simple gratitude was well worth the arduous process of fundraising £10,000 as a full-time university student. The most rewarding part of the summer was by far watching the impact we had and the excitement in our host, Jonathan, grow as the project neared completion and he received his first order for the maize mill. We left Jonathan (our host and main contact in the community) that summer with a finished maize mill, whirring processor and a backorder long enough to keep him busy for a month.
Emma Fencl, Volunteer 2015
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Edinburgh Global Partnerships has been supporting sustainable community-led development projects overseas since 1990.