Blog

Teachers and volunteers having a discussion about learning environments in Rwanda
VSO/Peter Caton

From teacher to volunteer: What’s it like to volunteer abroad with VSO?

Two retired UK teachers decided to embark on a completely new challenge: Wendy is improving teaching standards in Rwanda, while Helen is making education more inclusive in Nepal.

Gwen Harris pictured here is a VSO volunteer who went to Myanmar. Here she is talking to the camera about the unexpected thing she learnt as a volunteer.
VSO/Juanan Eguiguren

The unexpected thing I learnt as a VSO volunteer

Returned volunteers from the UK share some of the unexpected things they learned from their VSO experience, from the practical, to the bizarre, to the profound.

Paul Myovelah, 23, is on a mission to clean up his home town of Iringa, Tanzania through various business ventures.
VSO/Justin Spray

This entrepreneur is on a mission to clean up his town

Paul started his business by volunteering to clean his local hospital and streets for free. Since taking part in a VSO project, he now runs a successful garbage collection, cleaning and composting business.

ICS volunteers in the field
ICS/Cesar Lopez Balan

Building understanding: Mental health and youth volunteering

As the world’s leading organisation that uses volunteering to tackle poverty, VSO is especially interested in understanding how we can best ensure that people of all sorts of backgrounds can access meaningful volunteering opportunities, writes Philip Goodwin, Chief Executive of VSO.

Teacher with a large class size in Malawi
©VSO/Amos Gumulira

Is teaching the world's toughest job?

Low pay. Lack of respect. Being asked to achieve the impossible with not enough time, resources or training to do your best. Teachers around the world reveal the challenges they face – and why they keep at it despite everything.

A student answers a question during a lesson about relatives and family in English class at Hamugongo Primary School in Kagera, Tanzania.
VSO/Sophie Tremblay

Inside the world’s classrooms

Open the door of classrooms around the world and you’ll find a surprising range of challenges – as well as some truly incredible teachers dedicated to changing children’s lives.

Sierra Leone slum, Kroo Bay, which is full of plastic waste and other rubbish.
VSO/Evelyn Fey

The homes built on plastic: Life in a Sierra Leone slum

In Freetown, Sierra Leone, tens of thousands of people live with a sea of plastic waste on their doorstep. They're suffering disease, death and indignity. One volunteer is determined to make a stand on behalf of his community.

A VSO education volunteer at work in school

Our lasting bond: How volunteering created a cross-cultural connection

A volunteer placement that began more than a decade ago continues to benefit children with special education needs in Vietnam and has laid the foundations for a special relationship between two extraordinary women.

VSO

Safeguarding – a survivor-centred approach

Over the last year, organisations working in aid and development have been rightly challenged over their failings in dealing with abuse and harassment. In response to the scandals, the UK government is holding an International Safeguarding Summit in London in October.

Volunteers Jack Algeo and Chris Tipple wearing Ghanaian fabrics
VSO / Charly Sauret

60 years apart: Here’s how volunteering in Ghana aged 18 changed our lives

Watch what happened when we brought two British VSO volunteers together who volunteered in Ghana to find out how different their experiences were – 60 years apart.

Philip laying flowers in Rwanda
David Kezio-Musoke

Transformation and resilience: the role of volunteers in Rwanda

Rwanda is truly a nation of volunteers. A commitment to working with your community towards a common purpose is engrained in its national spirit, and the role that volunteering has played post the 1994 genocide is a lesson we can all learn from writes VSO CEO Dr Philip Goodwin.

Young wife in Nepal
©VSO/Suraj Shakya

Between the earth and the sky: Devna's story

In Nepal, suicide rates among young married women are very high. Devna* shares her experience of a surviving a forced marriage, and how she and her family came to be involved in a VSO project to reduce levels of violence in families in Baglung.