Considering volunteering abroad over summer?
Hannah Azuree spoke to 2nd year Politics and International Relations student Scarlett O’Donnell about her experience volunteering in Kampala, Uganda.
Hannah: Thanks for sharing your experience with us Scarlett, so when did the opportunity present itself, how did you get started?
Scarlett: Well, I was asked to go abroad through my church, to work with the church out there and get involved in the Street Children’s project.
H: How long were you there for and what did you get up to?
S: I was there for just over 12 months, and in that time we set up a micro finance element which allowed small businesses to start and kept income coming in for street boys looking to establish careers but who needed financial support to do so.
H: What did you take back most from the experience?
S: I loved the 12 months I spent in Uganda, and it’s actually the reason why I have decided to study International Relations at Swansea University. I also wish to move to east Africa permanently after my degree.
H: Do you have any advice for people seeking to volunteer in the future?
S: Well for starters, I think volunteering is a great idea, and they will learn many things, among them how to be a part of a community.
However, it also depends on the duration they plan to volunteer for. I saw a constant stream of lovely people who came to help but for such a
short time (2 weeks) and as soon as they formed relationships with the children, they had to leave and it was just heartbreaking, for the children especially.
H: Do you have anything to suggest about improving the continuity and consistency of volunteering?
S: I think it would be good to have a method of reproducing and multiplying the change and growth after the volunteering was finished. As
in, some type of orientation for new volunteers given by previous ones, so that the work the first batch of volunteers started, gets finished.
H: In terms of change, what do you think could possibly enhance the impact of volunteering?
S: I think it’s important to remember that we can’t change the world in two weeks, because there so much to do. With that said, volunteering
is a serious commitment that involves a lot of dedication. It’s not exactly a place to go if you’re looking to travel or party because people’s lives
are a priority. Especially since the main purpose of volunteering is to give back, that’s what we should be focused on achieving. At the same
time, local people need to be empowered and taught in order to secure the future development and schooling for the children. It starts with
us working together, but the task is eventuallytransferred to them.