Introducing our first volunteer with People and Places

Updated on Dec 19, 2016 by Kathryn Burrington

Blog > Introducing our first volunteer with People and Places

Pat, our first volunteer is helping small businesses to improve their administration and accountancy skills.

Great news! We have our first volunteer with people and places. Pat will be working with ASSET (the Association for small scale enterprises in tourism) helping small businesses to improve their administration and accountancy skills, reviving ASSET’s membership drive and exploring fund raising potentials. Pat has an impressive history of volunteering and is a great example of how someone can give something back to their local community as well as to people living on another continent many miles away.

I went onto The Gambia Experience's website and discovered they were looking for volunteers with small business, administration and accountancy skills all of which I have and was willing to share with others. Further investigation into people and places and links to the various projects they are involved with made me feel very comfortable about taking the first step and registering my interest.

A quick and very informative response from Kate followed up by a chat on the phone helped me decide to make an application. The whole process was well planned and very thorough but not onerous and it was only about six weeks from start to finish before I was accepted and had made my travel arrangements. I now have a draft proposal for my placement with ASSET and lots of reports from previous volunteers who have worked on the same project together with contact information for some of them.

volunteering in west africa, responsible volunteering in The Gambia with people and places

I have been to the Gambia twice before first in 2011 and then in February this year when I also visited Senegal, mainly for bird watching but also for getting out and about into the villages and the countryside. I love the relaxed way of life and the friendliness of the people but also their ambition to better themselves and their families. What I like the least about the Gambia is their bartering culture which I understand but I believe loses them business with tourists.

The project I will be joining is ASSET - wealth through tourism and I am very much looking forward to working with Adama and his staff on anything they can give me to do which will make good use of my skills. I am very much a believer in helping people to help themselves. I am going for four weeks in November and as well as missing friends and family, I know I shall miss a decent cup of tea and my hobby of church bell ringing. What I will not miss is the weather back home!

From leaving school my background was one of secretarial, administration and accountancy the final 17 years of which was sharing the running of a family business. That was 24 years ago and since then I have constantly been involved in voluntary work, including 12 years as Treasurer and Trustee of my local Age Concern as well as many other charities, clubs and societies.

Responsible volunteering, volunteering in west africa

Above: Pat in the Congo

Two years ago I joined the management committee of a small local charity Congo Action for whom I have this year taken on the role as Treasurer and Trustee. Our work involves sponsoring children and schools in the DRC and also helping with village projects giving micro-credit and other loans. We also contribute to such things as repairs to their spring and encouraging people to set up their own small businesses and help themselves and their community. We have also supported several sewing projects. This work necessitates “audit visits” and last November I went out with our Chair and another Trustee to see all the projects, meet with our contacts and make financial decisions for the next two years.

This is another reason why I wanted to volunteer in the Gambia - I have had a deep rooted love of Africa and its people for over 20 years since I visited some friends who were living in Kenya and I know I can help make a difference.

 

 

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