Volunteer Capital Centre (VCC)

Welcome to the Volunteer Capital Centre

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Volunteer in Africa

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Mark Twain. Most volunteers who go abroad, like to volunteer in places where they feel they can make a difference. This is what makes volunteering abroad a noble choice for many. Apart from volunteer work, there are also a number of other things that one can do in these countries. Here we will look at a number of countries in Africa and what one can do while volunteering in these countries.

First off we look into volunteering in Kenya. Kenya has a lot to offer a volunteer not just in terms of volunteer work but also as a tourist destination. First off on your arrival to the capital city Nairobi you will be eager to visit the Nairobi national park, only a few kilometers away from the Nairobi town center. While in Kenya you can trek the snow heights of mount Kenya, visit Fort Jesus in Mombasa, a Portuguese fort, built in The 1593,visit the ancient Gedi ruins, a historical town founded in the 13th century, do some water rafting and enjoy the sandy beaches, all within your volunteer visit.

Next up we move to West Africa, where we have Ghana. Ghana being one of the faster growing democracies in Africa at the moment has a lot to of tour sites available to anyone who travels there. All from your arrival at the capital in Accra, you can head to visit the Nkuruma mausoleum. In addition to the mausoleum you can go to any number of these famous attractions; Elmina Castle which was a slave trading, shipping center for the slave trade to America ,the West-African museum at Cape Coast Castle , Kakum National Park with its canopy walk, the oldest mosque in West-Africa at Larabanga, the waterfall at Kintampo , sail with the ferry from Akosombo all the way up north on the Volta lake, visit the lagoons in the Volta estuary ,take a visit to Navrongo with its Roman Catholic Cathedral made out of clay and spend some time on their lovely beaches from Half Assini till Aflao .

South Africa has many beautiful places that a volunteer can visit. Doing volunteer work in Africa’s leading economy comes with a number of attraction’s that can help take your mind off of any stress you may have as a result of your volunteer work. South Africa has within it numerous sites such as the Kruger national park, which has more species of wildlife than any other one in Africa, taking in the view along the Garden Route, which runs along the beautiful coastline in south-western Cape. The narrow coastal plain is also well forested, and mostly bordered by extensive lagoons. You can also make a visit to the cape wine yards, or drive down to the Kwa Zulu natal coast for scuba diving and snorkeling, among other numerous tourist attractions in the country.

Lastly we take a look at Morocco in the northern end of the continent. While in Morocco then one of the best places you can visit during your volunteer work are the imperial cities of Marrakech, Fes and Meknes. Other than these famous attractions, one can take Sahara desert tours, trek through the atlas mountains, or if you enjoy beaches and the ocean just make shore excursions from Casablanca, Tangier and Agadir ports.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Choosing a Volunteer Abroad Program

“It’s easy to make a buck; it’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” – Tom Brokaw. There are many volunteer opportunities out there for anyone interested in doing volunteer work, more so abroad. Where as some people go into the volunteer world for just the simple experience, some go towards it as a vocational calling, or as a stepping stone for their future careers. It is best to choose a volunteering program that will be most beneficial to you and to those that you intend to help. Here is a look into some programs you can look into while trying to make your decision.

We will kick off by looking at volunteering as a teacher. This is one of the most fulfilling paths one can take as a volunteer. Volunteering as a teacher has a long term outcome in the community you are volunteering in. if you can help educate just a few people from a community that has suffered less fortune than yourself then this few individuals will in turn uplift the whole community with time. If you have qualifications as a teacher the better but you do not have to teach strictly in the class room, teaching can be in many forms including just showing a community how they build a latrine to ensure that their water is not contaminated. In the end it is all worthwhile.

Let’s look at those who may be interested in volunteering in healthcare. You can therefore help in this regard all over the world. Those interested in healthcare can have a choice in working in places where disaster has struck or picking one specific location along the globe where you would like to help out. How you help does not have to be strictly in a medical sense, you can do your part by simply distributing mosquito nets to area where malaria is highly occurring, or start a campaign to make sure every household in an area where there have been cholera outbreaks has a means to boil or purify their water. The end result of all these efforts is that you have helped keep a community healthier.

The saying goes that children are our future, so let’s look at those of us who would like to volunteer in children homes or with orphans. In this field you get to mold a person who will go off into the world someday, and make something of themselves because you had the courtesy to be involved in their lives. In an orphanage you can provide healthcare, teach, work in the kitchen as a cook, build a dormitory, clean up the compound or even do some missionary work while there. And the beauty of all this is you can commit yourself to one or more of the causes above all at the same time; you therefore get to touch a life on several fronts.

If you like animals and the environment around you, the one program you can look into is volunteering in wildlife conservation. Here you get to work with all sorts of wildlife from those that live in the savannah to marine animals, in the process you also get to interact with the environment as you spend a lot of time in the field, sometimes even spending nights outdoors camping, depending on how adventurous you are. Here is a clear instance where you can have some fun while doing your volunteer work.

There are many other potential programs for volunteers out there, including community development, construction work or even missionary work. Once you have made a clear choice on what you want to work in then the next step is to get your hands dirty and join in the volunteer community around the world.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Volunteer Abroad and Vaccination

“Vaccination is the medical sacrament corresponding to baptism.” - Samuel Butler. No one likes to fall ill when travelling, be it for volunteer work, but more so if you are taking a trip as a tourist. The risk for catching disease is increased when travelling to another continent. It is therefore advisable when you are travelling to any country for you to make sure you have all your immunization shots. Immunization schedules are usual personalized according to an individual immunization history, the countries to be visited, the duration of travel and the amount of time available before departure. Here is a brief overview.

First of all for those travelling with infants then the primary vaccination series with diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b (DTaP-IPV-Hib) and pneumococcal conjugate can be started as young as 6 weeks of age.

The most common disease that requires vaccination from most countries, especially as a regulation from the world health organization is yellow fever. Yellow fever is a virus infection, which cause a serious hepatitis. Getting a vaccine will provide protection for 10 years after a single injection. Countries where yellow fever is present are entitled to request a valid certificate documenting a vaccination against yellow fever at least 10 days before entry. The certificate is a stamp in the WHO yellow book. If travelling to Africa, it is mandatory for you to get vaccination in Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Eritrea, Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, and Togo. There are some countries within Africa where yellow fever is not very much a threat, however in such countries you are required to have a certificate of vaccination if you are coming from countries where yellow fever is endemic. These countries include Algeria, Burundi, Egypt, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

Typhoid vaccine is recommended for travellers who will have prolonged exposure i.e. more than four weeks, to potentially contaminated food and water. However, getting a vaccination against typhoid is recommended in all countries in Africa, as much as it is not a requirement for entry to most. The same goes for tetanus and polio.

Diphtheria is a serious throat infection, which infects from person-to-person through the air. The vaccination should be less than 10 years old otherwise a booster is needed. The diphtheria vaccine is recommended for all African countries, especially for people planning to stay for a long period of time, that being three months or more.

Lastly we take a look at hepatitis. Infectious hepatitis infects through contaminated food and water. Vaccination consists of two injections about 12 months apart, which protects for up to 25 years. The hepatitis A vaccine can be combined with hepatitis B. Travelers, who will be residing in areas with high levels of endemic hepatitis B or working in health care facilities, are most recommended to take this vaccine. Hepatitis B vaccines are recommended for all countries in Africa, where a person plans to stay for three months or more. Also note that since hepatitis B carrier rates are much higher in developing countries, every effort should be made to arrange full hepatitis B immunization for children of any age.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Volunteer Abroad Crimes

“Fear follows crime and is its punishment.” Voltaire. Choosing to be a volunteer is a noble choice for many. There is a lot of good that comes from volunteer work, but sometimes we have a few volunteers who for lack of a better term find themselves falling through the cracks and committing serious crimes while in the course of their volunteer work abroad.

To get a clear perspective on this we will take an example from a recent crime committed by a former American Peace Corp volunteer in South Africa. According to media reports, Jesse Osmun, 31, worked at an AIDS center in Greytown, South Africa, that provided education, food and other services to children between the ages of 3 and 15. Osmun, while volunteering at the center's preschool facility, allegedly sexually molested at least five girls under the age of 6. He is also alleged to have engaged in illicit sexual conduct with one of the girls, approximately 5 years old, twice a week for five months.

A pre school teacher, walked into a room where Jesse was playing with three girls, and on realizing, he was no longer alone, jerry shot up and pulled up his zipper. The pre school teacher reported this incident, and Jesse was confronted by the AIDS center program manager in May 2011.

According to the official complaint on Jesse, he initially denied any illicit activity but, subsequently admitted that he had touched one of the children under her clothes. One child also came forward and said that Jesse had given her candy in exchange for oral sex. Shortly afterwards, Jesse resigned from the Peace Corps and went back to the USA on June 2nd 2011.

An investigation was launched into the sexual allegations, and Jesse was arrested at his home in Milford, Connecticut. Where, the complaint states, Jesse began to admit that he molested children (at the preschool) and provide details about the molestation. “He appeared before a federal judge in Bridgeport and was detained.

This horrific crime is only one of the more recent cases that happen to have been reported, and hopefully a conviction will be made. Many other crimes go unnoticed, many of them involving drug abuse and trafficking, all the way to prostitution and fraud.

For many volunteers abroad, involvement in prostitution may not be a chosen way of life; some may find themselves in unusual circumstances. Like being the victim of a robbery, where they are forced to engage in prostitution in order to find their way back home. But in such situations you need to remember that prostitution is illegal in most countries, and more so in Arab speaking nations, it may therefore land in you a fatal sentence like getting stoned to death. Always try and look for a way out through contacting your embassy or even fellow volunteers.

Asian countries do not tolerate drug abuse and trafficking. In these countries such crimes carry very steep sentences, where one may not even be allowed legal representation before sentencing, or contact with their families. So think long and hard about it, when you go to do your volunteer work abroad is it really worth the risk to involve yourself in criminal activities. That may mean you never seeing your family or friends again and jail time in a foreign prison. Jesse can consider himself lucky not to have been arrested and prosecuted in a South African prison.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Volunteer Abroad Online Fundraising

“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”- Winston Churchill. Fundraising is a concept that is not strange to many of us; it’s basically a form of raising money towards a given cause. There are newer more popular ways coming up which a volunteer can use to fundraise; one of them is online fundraising. Fundraising through online websites is a way for you as a volunteer to get more money, and people involved. It also helps you to build a network of well wishers and donors to your cause. There are a number of websites that can help you to do your fundraising online. A brief description is provided below.

The first website we will look at is Crowdrise empowers online fundraisers to reach out to their friends, family, classmates, co-workers and other members of the Crowdrise community. Crowdrise’s online fundraising tools allow you to tell your story using compelling photos and videos to connect with your supporters. You can also share your projects with everyone you know by sending them a link to your project page via email, Facebook and Twitter. All you need to do is create your own personalized Profile Page. Your profile is meant to showcase everything you're doing as an online fundraiser and volunteer.

Another website you can look out for is Give2gether was founded in 2007, and to date it has enabled various Non Profit organizations to successfully raise funds for various purposes. The process here is quite simple; the first step for you on this website is to customize your web page. Through clicking on the icons provided, you can upload your organization’s logo, and then add a text of what you want to go with your main image. The next step is for you to upload your donors’ details, and then set up your introductory email announcing the campaign to existing donors. This will enable you to get the word out there of your cause, as your donors will start to reach out to their own networks. Once this is done then you only need to give your donors a thank you note, and get your fundraising on the way. Don’t forget to put a link to your website on your fundraising page. So that donors have proper access to you.

We also have FirstGiving was founded in 2003. It is founded by JustGiving, the UK-based pioneer of online fundraising. Together, FirstGiving and JustGiving form The Giving Group. This group is dedicated to one purpose: empowering passionate nonprofit supporters to raise more money than they ever thought possible for the causes they care about. They partner with nonprofit organizations to allow them to plan, execute, and measure successful online fundraising campaigns and charity fundraising events with. For individual fundraisers, they aim to make it easy, effective, and even fun to raise money online
Lastly we have Ukvirginmomneygiving, this idea came as a result of Virgin Money’s sponsorship of the London Marathon. Having taken a look at how runners raised money, it became clear to them that there was a better way of doing things. One that would help people involved in all sorts of fundraising activities and leaves everyone better off in the long run. It works through you linking up your cause with their website and spreading the word to your friends who get to more donors for you, just like the other sites we have looked at.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Volunteer Abroad Insurance Tips

“Its success lies in the fact that it's an insurance plan, not an investment plan or a welfare plan.” -James Roosevelt. As any volunteer abroad would attest, travelling just like everything else comes with its risks, some are foreseeable therefore avoidable but a good number are not. To make sure you are not very highly affected by such risks, it is beneficial to most volunteer to purchase some travel insurance when they leave their countries. This is just in case anything goes wrong shortly before they leave; on their way to their volunteer destination; during their volunteer work and on their way back home.

A basic description of travel insurance is that it provides coverage for unsuspected risk and financial loss that can occur before a trip starts. This includes cancellation, baggage loss or delay, and medical emergencies. Remember that coverage and limitations depends on the insurance company issuing the policy. There are up to four general types of travel insurance, they range from trip cancellation; we also have trip delay, accident/sickness medical expenses; medical evacuation/ emergency transportation; and supplier default and baggage/ personal effects, loss or delay.

As a volunteer you are probably going to spend quite some time at your destination. Your medical cover may be limited to your country of residence. It will also not be able to cover any medical evacuation you may need in case of an emergency.

Travel insurance covers a number of things, but the fine print in the policy is usually very strenuous to get through or understand. You need to know that travel insurance does not cover a number of scenarios: any pre existing medical conditions; medical tourism, that is a situation where you are travelling to another country to get medical attention there; failure of a travel planner to deliver the travel arrangements you had previously agreed on; any losses due to war that has been declared or not, military action, civil disorder or riots. The policies also never cover losses due to psychological disorders like depression; any losses incurred while the insured volunteer is participating in an unlawful act, and losses incurred while the insured is legally drunk or under the influence of drugs.

Buying travel insurance is as easy making any other purchases, you can either do it from your travel agent or you can do it online. The travel agent is already trained to make this sale and will steer the conversation towards what direction he/ she wants you to take, remember, they also get a commission from this. It is therefore cheaper for you to shop for a policy on line, the argument here is that by passing the middle man, the policy becomes cheaper by up to 50% less, buying from a travel agent will cost you 5-8% of your travel cost.

The best time for you to purchase a policy is immediately after you have made your payments for your deposits, this way you get maximum coverage. Before you buy any policy you need to ask an expert, and make sure you compare prices and levels of cover for different policies from different companies. Make sure you declare any medical conditions that you may have before purchase, read the small print carefully and check the excesses. One more tip that may come in handy is that it is cheaper to buy your travel insurance in numbers, possibly with any fellow volunteers you may be travelling with, but be careful to make sure that the policy you get does not always limit you to travel together, and if making your purchase online, try and make sure to correctly fill in the form, so that you do not have a hard time when you are trying to make a claim. So get yourself some travel insurance for your volunteer work, it will come in handy in case worst comes to worst.