As we start a new year, we'd like to highlight all the amazing work and achievements of VSO volunteers in 2022.
Promoting disability inclusion in family planning in Kenya
Dennis Mugambi Njue is a National Volunteer Disability Inclusion advisor on the Delivering Equitable Sustainable Increases in Family Planning (DESIP) project in Kenya, helping young women with hearing impairments to access information on family planning. Dennis has played a critical role in ensuring health care workers understand basic sign language by supporting the development of inclusive health materials.
He has supported the health workers and community volunteers to learn basic Kenya sign language to ensure that the deaf community are able to easily access sexual and reproductive health information and services in a confidential manner.
Through building the capacity of health care workers, partners and community health volunteers, Dennis has helped positively impact people in the community by tackling some of the myths and misconceptions held towards people with disabilities. There has been a notable increase of people with disabilities accessing family planning services in the area and health care workers are now making a deliberate effort to ensure equitable services.
Dennis has also been nominated for an award at this years Volunteer Impact Awards, under the Health category.
Generating resilient income and environments in Cambodia
Kem Rai (38) lives in Kampong Loung village in Cambodia on the Tonlé Sap Lake. Like many women in the community, she relied on fishing in the lake to generate income. Due to climate change, the fish populations in the lake have drastically declined, threatening the livelihoods of local fishers. With the skills provided by the GREEN project (Generating Resilient Environments and Promoting Socio-Economic Development of the East Tonle Sap Lake), Kem has been able to grow vegetables on her floating garden to both consume and sell.
She now volunteers in the community, helping other women who have also had to drop out of the fishing career due to lack of income. She was one of the first community members to join the group and is a role model to local community members of how to create a profitable floating garden, like hers. Kem has come up with new innovative ideas to build her garden whilst also cleaning the lake. She gathers used plastic bottles littered around the lake to put it under her floating garden to help it float.
Engaging youth for sexual reproductive health rights in Zambia
I think what makes us different is that unlike other volunteers, we have good training from VSO. We target youth and transform them from their old ways into a better life. We use Talking Books to teach ourselves and the youth about sexual and reproductive health. After listening to the Talking Book, we have a question and answer session to clarify anything that was not understood and reinforce the lessons.Barthromew SungaCommunity volunteer
Barthromew, Sophie, and Peter are community volunteers trained by VSO. They meet with clinic staff to present their reports from their community activities and share this information with the clinic staff using community score cards.
VSO volunteers use Talking Books to kickstart conversations and share accurate information with the youth. The Talking Books are loaded with messages in the local languages, which are culturally sensitive.
The messages are played in listening groups facilitated by the volunteers. Each member of the group also gets a chance to take a Talking Book home and listen with their parents or guardian. This initiative gives an opportunity to the parents and guardians to speak with their children or wards about sexual health, which was previously considered a taboo.
Developing environmentally friendly fertilizer in Uganda
It’s important that when you have skills and knowledge that you come together with those who aren’t lucky enough to have the same skills, so you can transfer your knowledge while also continuing to learn from others. In this way we can create successful projects. Local people bring their indigenous knowledge and we can help them using this kind of technology, to expand their economic activities.John Musisi EngaggaGender Empowerment and Social Inclusion Advisor
The conflict in Ukraine has led to an increase in fertiliser prices in Uganda and neighbouring Kenya. Amidst the shortages, some farmers are shifting to a more sustainable way of enriching their soils using frass from black soldier flies.
Volunteers John Musisi Engagga and Rashmi Sharma, pictured standing near the "love cages", the cages where the adult black soldier flies breed. This is part of the project with VSO's local partner organisation Proteen in Kayunga, about 75km outside the Ugandan capital, Kampala.
John is a Gender Empowerment and Social Inclusion Advisor, and Rashmi is a Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Advisor on the Challenge for Youth Engagement (CFYE) project. Their work on the project is helping to create a prosperous future for 200,000 young women and men in the Middle East and Africa. By engaging with the local community, youth have been trained to produce their own black soldier fly larvae and fertiliser for crop and poultry production. This reduces farmers’ dependence on importing chemical fertilisers, which is good for farmers’ incomes as well as soil health.
Helping disabled girls access education in Nepal
ENGAGE envisions a world where marginalised girls are empowered through education to make informed life choices, contribute to family decision making and confidently pursue their own economic opportunities. Getting a girl back to school can make a huge difference.Nitin Naren SinghNational volunteer
Nitin Naren Singh is a National Volunteer for Empowering a New Generation of Adolescent Girls with Education (ENGAGE) project in the Banke district of Nepal. The project is helping vulnerable and out-of-school girls, especially those with disabilities, to benefit from a quality education. So far 2,525 girls have been taught new skills to increase their future employability and raise their self-esteem.
At the age of seven, Panam was pulled out of her first year of school because her parents could not keep up with the cost of books, stationery and uniform. But with the support of the VSO community, volunteers were able to step in and help her get back inside of the classroom. Nitin connected with Panum’s parents to share the importance of education for girls.
VSO’s ENGAGE project financially supported Panum’s to enroll back into school. To make up for her gap year from school she attended catch up classes for 9 months! Panum is now doing exceptionally well at school and loves being with her friends.
Thinking of volunteering with VSO?
If you’re interested in volunteering with us, we’d love to hear from you. VSO continually recruits experienced professionals to support our programmes in Asia and Africa.
One concept that holds back the journey towards inclusivity is Othering. While it is not a term often thrown around in everyday conversation, its impact on our societies can be profound and far-reaching.
Outstanding performances, inspiring guest speakers and heartfelt speeches from our fantastic volunteers, the Volunteer Impact Awards had it all! Here are your highlights from the ceremony.
For many of us, education is something that we often take for granted. Providing quality education and access to education for all is a tool that has proven to build a cohesive and fairer society.