Posted by WorkingAbroad Projects on Thursday, 5th March 2015
There are two major plights of our age: environmental degradation and social inequality. The political and economic solutions to these predicaments seem hard to find. But out in the real world, away from politics, small and mobile NGO’s are addressing these problems head on. These organisations are growing every year and they need volunteers to help to support their efforts, whether it is through building new schools, building medical clinics, planting trees for reforestation programmes, or working to help endangered species, and much more. Over the years we have seen a revival in the enterprising spirit of volunteering.
Recently we took it upon ourselves to find some quantifiable proof of whether this movement of volunteers have achieved anything whilst working abroad - all these gap year students, pensioners, didgeridoo players, idealists, yogis and worn out bankers, have they really made a difference? Or is it only to boost some ego’s, or provide the Facebook generation with great selfies?
Although it is incomplete, we are seeing a positive picture emerging. Here are some findings we want to share with you:
Last year, our volunteers in Nepal
participated in promoting social wellbeing through teaching, cultural exchange and tackling healthcare issues. They managed to run 5 new medical camps, treat over 3,000 patients, help and assist 15 handicapped children and plant over 3,000 trees to fight erosion and land slides.
over 50,000 students were taught English classes in 50 schools.
In Europe, with our Slovakian programme
, the volunteers have been tracking wolves and lynx, and last year, they collected 112 samples from wolves for DNA analysis. This work is vital in protecting the wolves and in order to gain reliable figures in how many wolves there are in Slovakia. Our project partner in Croatia managed to record and identify a total of 600 dolphins for research and protection through the work of the volunteers.
In South Africa
, volunteers have been busy releasing 22 animals from a rehabilitation centre and helped to build a large artificial wetland. In Ecuador
, over 10,000 trees have been planted - which translates approximately to a 100 new woodlands.
Over 17,000 baby sea turtles were released by volunteers at the Playa Tortuga Project
in Costa Rica. Where they also set up last year over 200 night cameras and caught 16 rare species - including the Ocelot and the Puma - again these sightings provide invaluable knowledge of these animals and an understanding of whether they still roam in the area. Photo-identification and information of patterns, habitat use and social organising, bring into existence most of the ecological insight needed to make conservation decisions and run national parks.
In the Caribbean region, legal and illegal fisheries, incidental by-catch, loss of habitat and the harvesting of eggs have all contributed to the demise of sea turtle species. Working together with local communities, the volunteers at Ocean Spirits
managed to tag 443 Sea Turtles and worked for a total of 31,500 hours. Perhaps the most stoic work they did was to count up to 110,541 turtle eggs.
over 500 people have used the soup kitchen and 3 new homes were built last year by our volunteers in Brazil.
Our programme in Costa Rica (in Ostional)
, has been working to defend the plight of the endangered pacific leatherback sea turle. But through careful observation work and patrolling the beaches consistently, the volunteers have helped to release over 2,000 leatherback hatchlings in hope they will survive at sea. They conducted a total of 361 night patrols. This work helped to improve the hatchling success rate from 17.72% in 2005 to 58.5% last year.
In addition, these programmes directly support the local families whom volunteers live with.
These findings are positive and we will be recording this data in the future to gain an ever expanding view of the positive effects volunteers are having - if the NGO’s, the volunteers, and the local communities are happy, and we see positive results, then we have a winner.
The work is endless. But these figures are a rare tune amongst the heavy noise of bad news that we are constantly bombarded with.
But the last word is - thank you - to all our dedicated volunteers, this is the result of all your combined and united effort, we should be celebrating, its a big undertaking - lets dream up more amazing things we can do in the future.
Andreas Kornevall, Co-Founder, WorkingAbroad