Volunteer Your Skills Abroad
More and more people are taking time off to offer their skills abroad in a tangible effort towards fighting poverty in developing countries.
Whether it be as part of international pro bono work, or just an opportunity to experience another way of life away from Blackberry phones and HD TV, volunteering abroad is sure to bring an overwhelming sense of pride and fulfilment.
Challenges Worldwide and Mondo Challenge projects are just two examples of the possible programmes available for skilled legal professionals.
Challenges Worldwide (CWW) is an international development charity and award winning social enterprise. CWW recruits and trains volunteers with professional skills and experience to work with local partners – NGO’s, governments and small businesses - in developing countries. CWW currently works in Central America and the Caribbean, South Asia, Eastern Europe and West Africa and since 1998, has arranged, managed and evaluated over 500 short-term assignments.
CWW delivers work under four international development themes: Human Rights, Livelihoods, Health and Environment. CWW matches the skills and experience of volunteers to the needs of local partners and aims to work with them to build their capacity by providing management consultancy support for free.
CWW typically works with volunteers who have a minimum of 3 years work experience and is always on the look-out for volunteers with backgrounds in: Law, Finance and Accounting, Communications and Marketing, HR, IT, Business Planning and Management and Administration.
CWW Case Study: Rachel Stephens, India
Rachel Stephens, a qualified lawyer, travelled to Delhi last May to undertake her placement with CWW partner the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN). HRLN is dedicated to the use of the legal system to advance human rights and ensure access to justice for all.
Rachel decided to apply to CWW because we were able to offer her the unique opportunity of volunteering her corporate and commercial legal skills with a not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation.
Half her workload consisted of supporting HRLN lawyers by interviewing clients and drafting legal pleadings on a variety of cases, primarily relating to HIV/AIDS and discrimination. The rest of her time was spent organising and facilitating “know your rights” training sessions and presentations about HIV/AIDS. Rachel researched and wrote for publications issued by HRLN and was also delighted to become involved with some work at a strategic level.
“People in the office were very friendly although everyone was overworked which meant I had to stand up for myself quite early on. Whilst daunting at the time, this helped me become more self reliant, something I value a lot now that I am back in London.”
“My time overseas has made me more confident to pursue my career and life goals.”
Find out more at www.challengesworldwide.com
Mondo Challenge is a UK-based, not-for-profit organisation that sends volunteers to help with sustainable development programmes in places such as Ecuadorian rainforests, Maasai villages in Tanzania and Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka.
The programmes are flexible in length and provide a unique opportunity for volunteers to participate in fascinating local cultures and to understand the values of the people of these wonderful regions.
The benefits to your career of an improved understanding of the customs of other countries along with experience of coping in alien conditions will increase confidence, improve communication and organisational abilities, and enhance your people-management skills.
Mondo Challenge Case Study: Dorcas Crawford, Sri Lanka
Dorcas Crawford, partner in Belfast law firm Edwards and Company, took a month out to travel to Sri Lanka with her family and volunteer as an English teacher for a primary school on the outskirts of Kandy.
"There was a number of reasons I decided to volunteer", says Dorcas. "I wanted my children to experience something more than just a decadent summer holiday, and I had also been involved in a very harrowing and long-running piece of litigation which had exhausted me and caused me to seriously doubt my work. I needed to do something completely different and worthwhile - and it was!"
Dorcas taught English everyday from 8am - 11.30am and ran after school clubs from 1.30pm - 3.30pm with a brief of making English fun.
"On our last day at school the children performed various little plays and songs we'd taught them in English for their parents and teachers", recalls Dorcas. "We felt extremely humble - we'd given so little, only a month of our time - and they were incredibly appreciative.
"Our time in Sri Lanka made us all think about how much of our lives are governed by want rather than need. It was a fantastic experience, so worthwhile and though I felt physically tired on my return to work, my mental batteries were definitely re-charged."
Find out more at www.mondochallenge.org
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