VSO Volunteer Linking
Since December 2004, we have been sending donations to VSO in London who then provided us with contacts with VSO volunteers in Nigeria. To date we have sent some $21,000 to VSO and in return we have had a number of very good correspondents, some not so good and one who we never heard from at all and apparently VSO had a hard time tracking her down and she was in Abuja. One of these volunteers, Canadian Glenn Dodge, put us in touch with the Fantsuam organization with which we have had an ongoing relationship since 2008.
VSO is now only receiving about one third of its funding from the British government and so is much more dependent on their own fundraising from organizations big and small, of which we are one.
At the end of April this year in London, I met up with Sally Beckenham, one of their community fundraiser. She was very enthusiastic and grateful for our ongoing support of the organization. Beckenham is trying to formalize the Linking programme and sent me a copy of the very impressive final report made by a volunteer who worked as a Nurse Tutor in Malawi. Under the scheme, volunteers are supposed to report on a quarterly basis to their linking organization. All, would be, volunteers have to raise just over $1500 on their own and sponsorship organization are supposed to provide about the $2500 funding. Our contribution in fact just goes into the genera operating account of VSO as it is impossible to direct our funds just for use in Nigeria. Directed fundraising is always a contentious issue.
As Beckenham says: We see volunteer fundraising as an an essential part of the volunteer journey, and in the selection process we make it clear that this willingness contributes to determinations of candidate suitability. Asking volunteers to contribute themselves has a double impact: it provides much needed income for the charity to keep sending volunteers overseas (if we are to receive the current level of DFID grant we need to raise an additional £15 million over the next three years) and it also helps raise VSO’s profile in the community by getting buy-in from friends, family and neighbours.
The VSO volunteer we will be linking with is Bernadette (Bernie) Allen who perhaps can best introduce herself to us in her own words:
I will be working for 12 months based in Ilorin in Kwara state. My role will be to partner with the Ministry of Education to oversee the management of national graduate volunteers and national youth corpers. The programme is quite comprehensive. It started in 2007, to recruit young Nigerian graduates in English, Mathematics and Science related subjects. These graduates were posted as teachers in rural secondary schools in the state to compliment government efforts to provide rural education. This programme was successful in establishing a national volunteering initiative and the second phase rolled out in 2012, with future opportunities explored in Nasarawa and Kano with private partners and NGO’s, technical schools and skill building centres. As well as this, Serving Youth Corp members can volunteer during their national service year in the area of education and agriculture. Current supporting partners are located in Kwara, Nasarawa and Kano.
This is the second time I’ve volunteered with VSO. I spent two years working in Bangladesh a few years ago. I have been completing a BSc Hons in International Studies since I returned to the UK, which, after completing in June, leaves me free to get back into the field and participate in person once again. I am starting another course towards a Masters in Development Management and will sit my exam in April, probably in Abuja, so will have to discipline myself and keep organised to meet my deadlines. I really enjoy study so it won't be too difficult and I have had some experience of study overseas as I completed a couple of courses while in Bangladesh, so appreciate how tricky it can be.
I was born and grew up in a little coastal village in Wales called Fishguard. It has a small ferry across to southern Ireland and is a very beautiful, Celtic, wild and ancient place. At the moment however I live in a Medieval village in Worcestershire called Alvechurch. I enjoy sailing and have crossed the English Channel, sailed partway across the Atlantic, around various Greek Islands and in and around the British Virgin Islands and Guadeloupe. I love photography and took hundreds of photos while in Bangladesh, some of which I used to highlight the culture and environment by posting them online.
If all goes to plan, our volunteer , Bernie, will leave for Nigeria in December.
VSO Nigeria 1965-1967