Giovanni Villafuerte considers himself a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’. However as a two-time VSO volunteer, community leader and a producer, he certainly has mastered enough skills to make him a valuable member of VSO Cambodia. Giovanni is currently working to support farmers to turn their enterprises into robust businesses. Here he talks about the experience as a whole, and the impact he sees.
John William's elective year as a young doctor in Zambia led to a lifelong ambition to work abroad once he had retired. At 60, the end of his career as a consultant obstetrician, he was offered a three-month stint in Cambodia with VSO.
The placement made use of his lifetime's experience of management, teaching and clinical work to improve the healthcare services in three hospitals in obstetrics and gynaecology. It was challenging but rewarding and John, now 71, accepted a second VSO position in the country the following year.
Due to low and unreliable salaries, teachers in Cambodia have been demoralised. This has a knock-on effect on quality of education and is a barrier to improvement. But after work by VSO volunteers a new system of payment has been introduced that ensures reliable access to teachers’ hard-earned wages.