Articles About Projects Abroad from 2007
Fresh from her successful trip to Sudan to free Gillian Gibbons, the teacher jailed for the teddy bear naming incident, Baroness Warsi met James Caan, the newest dragon in Dragons' Den on BBC Two. Warsi and entrepreneur Caan - who left Pakistan at the age of two and is now chief executive of Hamilton Bradshaw, the private equity firm - are to work closely with Projects Abroad, which sets up overseas placements for volunteers on gap years or career breaks.
Hannah is in her final year of a communication studies degree at Sheffield Hallam University. She took a gap year between A-levels and starting university. Through Projects Abroad she went to Ghana for three months. Most of her time was spent working in an orphanage. For the rest of the time she was working in a school: teaching, dancing, singing and generally keeping the children entertained.
It is easy to become jaded by idealistic sermonising but there was genuine weight behind statements last week by the chairman of the Bar, the vice-president of the Law Society and the vice-president of Ilex at the Stand Up event in Lincoln’s Inn Fields on the importance of assisting developing countries in governance, legal training and the application of the rule of law.
If you are interested in doing something positive in this area then take a look at the work of Projects Abroad that is recruiting volunteers for the Africa office of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in Accra, Ghana. Go to: www.projects-abroad.net.
With her children now doing their own thing, Kathy, 51, felt she needed a challenge and tentatively floated the idea of overseas volunteer work to her husband. Ken’s response, “Off you go,” put her on the spot, propelled her into action and six months later she was in Tamil Nadu, South India, helping at a home for disabled boys, all from very poor backgrounds and affected by polio or cerebral palsy.
From the moment she walked through the gate and met the home’s wheelchair bound director, Kathy knew “this was where I was meant to be”. In a way she is still there. On her return back to the UK, Kathy did not go back to her lecturing post; instead she and Ken, who had already taken early retirement, set up the Neem Tree Trust, a registered charity dedicated to supporting the boys’ home and named after a tree renowned for its healing properties. The Trust’s fundraising activities include talks given by Kathy and the sale of Neem oil products, gift stationery and articles made by the boys themselves.
Kathy’s original trip was organised by Teaching & Projects Abroad. This company offers a range of placements worldwide for durations to suit each volunteer, from two weeks to a year…….As well as the placement itself, the ‘gap’ package typically includes accommodation, food, briefings, insurance, on the ground support and, excluding flights, costs anything between £500-£2,500, depending on where and for how long.
I’d already graduated from Keele University with a degree in physiotherapy and been working as a physio for just over a year at Wolverhampton City Primary Care Trust when I went to Nepal for four months. I went to Nepal with Teaching & Projects Abroad and it cost me around £2,000.
Once there I heard about a hostel which had 30 children with mental and physical handicaps and a few needed a stretching programme set up. In this country a child would have special shoes and chairs and splints, but there, they had three in a bed. We used a small room and taught the carers stretches to make the children comfortable.
I also learned the Ponseti technique while I was there, which is a way of using a cast to reshape a child’s talipes or clubfoot.
In Britain, you have to go on a course to learn it, but they taught me there and I was able to do it on some of the kids. It was great because I learned a lot about just getting by. The splints they used would be copied for an eighth of the price they are here. We had some postural cushions made for some of the children – made within a day at the shop down the road. You couldn’t do that here because of all the restrictions. There, they just have to get on with things. I came back to the same hospital in Wolverhampton – I love it here, it’s a small rehab hospital – and I had a lot more confidence and better communication skills.
Going to Nepal was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I feel really lucky that I was able to do it.
Inspiration for Katie Parsons, 24, was all of these things. "I wanted to go somewhere I could completely immerse myself in the culture and also give something back," she says of her ten week teaching English in a small school near Cusco, Peru... Her placement was organised by Projects Abroad, cost £1500, and was part of a six-month trip through Mexico and South America. "It was a lot of money but included insurance, meals and transport. For me though it gave me peace of mind that everything was arranged for me, and peace of mind for my parents who knew they could contact me easily," she says.
Working on an Indian newspaper will teach you a lot about the Sub-continent – as well as about life as a journalist. Will Parkhouse shares his experiences...
Teaching & Projects Abroad, as well as sending volunteers to join the media in countries as diverse as Mexico, Moldova and Mongolia, offers a different angle from the others, in that it has three placements – in Bolivia, Romania and India – on magazines the organisation has set up itself, to guarantee that volunteers will receive proper attention.
Volunteers with the Mongolia Nomad Life Project live and work with nomadic families on the Mongolian Steppe. They get involved in all aspects of life, from looking after livestock to helping to prepare for local events such as the annual Naadam festival. In the evenings you can relax with your family over a cup of the local brew, a mild fermented milk drink called airag.
A one-month stay costs £1,795 including food, accommodation, airport pick-up and orientation, full back-up from UK and local staff, insurance, and placement organisation. www.projects-abroad.org.za, 021 671 7008. Flights to Ulan Bator £895 return.
With accommodation with a host family, and 60 hours of one-to-one tuition, this four-week course couldn’t be more total immersion if they dunked you in guaro, the local rum you’re bound to encounter when you should be doing your homework. Based in the northwestern city of Liberia, within easy reach of numerous national parks, volcanoes and beaches of the Pacific coast, the course is a great foundation for the community projects, sports coaching, journalism and even medical and veterinary work that can be done later on with the same operator in Costa Rica, as well as Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Peru.
Details: £895 for four weeks, full-board, including travel and medical insurance, and transfers from/to San Jose. Flights arranged for £835. Contact Teaching & Projects Abroad (021 671 7008, www.projects-abroad.org.za).
This placement was arranged by a gap year company (Projects Abroad) and I decided to go away with a company because both me and my parents wanted the secure ‘safety net’ these companies provide.
I would like to recommend established companies such as Projects Abroad, as they offer young people, especially girls, a good safe introduction to the developing world, and allow them to become immersed in cultures very different from their own. They offer a very valuable experience and in many cases the volunteer is able to make a worthwhile contribution to at the very least one other person’s life.
"Overseas volunteering will make a whole generation more open and connected to the third world," said Peter Slowe, founder of gap year organisation Teaching & Projects Abroad.
"Living and working in a developing country is a completely different experience to travelling. It helps overcome that ‘otherness’ problem that older generations encounter."
People who have done challenging voluntary work tend to stand out, says Jonathan Jones, European head of graduate recruitment at Goldman Sachs. Shaking a tin in the shopping centre or working at the local charity shop is not enough, though. You need to do something that is adventurous or that exposes you to the organisational issues faced by the charity.
Organisations such as BUNAC, Teaching (& Projects) Abroad and Outreach International run volunteering programmes.
Planning a gap year after university should be a pleasure - all that time to fill, with only the limits of your imagination to hold you back. Only problem is, the sheer wealth of options can make the whole thing seem more complicated than revising for your final-year exams. ...Teaching & Projects Abroad is one of the largest, offering volunteering projects in 21 countries, ranging from teaching English or working in an orphanage to journalism placements. More than a third of the 3,000 people it sends abroad every year are recent graduates on a gap year.
"The volunteers we get want to take a break before starting a job and settling down," says Ian Birbeck, senior programme executive. "It gives them a chance to try things out and adds something to the CV, especially if you've done something constructive. A lot of young people want to do something worthwhile with their year rather than just bumming around the world."
Meet the English student who chose to play football in Ghana in his gap year and now wants to play for Luxembourg. Naturally….While most gay year students backpack round Asia and Australasia, the south Londoner, along with two fellow 18-year-old Brits, paid £2,000 to spend three months in the Ghanaian capital – as part of a new project set up by Worthing-based organisation Teaching & Projects Abroad – where as well as coaching at Cantonments FC, a club set up for young Ghanaians in 2002, he’s been training with Inter Millas from the country’s second Division.
A new voluntourism project has been launched by Teaching & Projects Abroad giving volunteers the chance to teach basic football skills and organise training sessions in Ghana….Ian Birbeck, head of recruitment for Teaching & Projects Abroad said: "Our main objective at Teaching & Projects Abroad is to match the skills, experience and willingness of young British people to the needs, requirements and abilities of communities in developing countries."