Saturday 5th December was International Volunteers Day, when people all over the world celebrated what it means to be a volunteer.
World Vision Solomon Islands (WVSI) joined other organisations in recognising the contribution that volunteers make.
“Volunteers have been a great support to the World Vision team and the communities we work with,” says WVSI Country Director Janes Ginting.
“They bring technical skills that are not always available in country, but equally important, they also bring a professional work ethic and a great spirit to help build our local team’s capacity for the long term.”
WVSI has five volunteers working in the Honiara office, two from Australia and three from New Zealand.
The longest serving World Vision volunteer is engineer David Rogers, from the\ Australian volunteer program Scope Global. After almost 1 and half years as a WASH advisor, David is due to depart this January, but he says the experience has been a valuable one.
“I think working as a World Vision volunteer has given me the chance to make more of an impact, instead of concentrating on one project I have had the opportunity to work on a number of different things.”
He says the most important thing he has learnt is the value of relationship building.
“Engineers tend to think about mechanics of a project, but in Solomons you need to focus on the relationship first or nothing will work.”
Margi and Ken Martin agree. The have been here almost a year and came to Honiara as part of the New Zealand Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) program on a two year assignment.
Margi was born in Honiara and lived here until she was four years old. Since then she has returned twice for visits, and she believes building those relationships have helped.
Margi is World Vision’s Education Advisor, she says her experience has been ‘awesome’ and she highly recommends volunteering to others.
“I feel very appreciated and valued as a volunteer at World Vision and I have been given opportunities that I wouldn’t have had in New Zealand.”
Ken originally came as Margi’s accompanying partner, but has since taken up some pro-bono volunteering with World Vision to help in various areas, in particular a redecorating project for the country office.
The third New Zealander at World Vision, Emily Gordon, has also come to Honiara as part of the VSA program.
Emily is on a one-year assignment as a Communications Advisor for World Vision and is relatively new to Honiara having only arrived in early October.
She says like many international volunteers she arrived in the Solomons to share her knowledge, but she soon found that the sharing goes both ways.
“You come here with a good understanding of your job and how to do it, but your job is only part of the experience, there are a lot of other things that you have no idea about and you have to learn as you go.”
However, she says she has had great support from the World Vision staff, VSA and her fellow volunteers.
“I came here not really sure what to expect and it has been wonderful the way people are so friendly and willing to help.”
Libby Wherrett also appreciates the support she has received since arriving at World Vision in early November.
Libby has come to the Solomons from Australia. Her husband has a two-year contract working with the Solomon Islands Governance Program. Unlike World Vision’s other volunteers, Libby does not come from a volunteer agency.
“After a couple of weeks here I sent emails to five organisations offering my services and World Vision was only one of two that replied.”
With a background in Organisation Development, Libby will be using her experience to work as part of World Vision’s Gender program.
She says she often enjoys volunteering more than a working in paid position because she feels it is separated from competition and judgement.
“I come with my experience and there is no pressure to be something you aren’t. It makes for a more satisfying work experience.”
The World Vision volunteers are just some the many individuals who volunteer their time, energy and skills in organisation across Honiara and the Solomon Islands. Please join World Vision in recognising them and the contribution they make in helping change our world for the better.
World Vision would also like to thank VSA and Scope Global for their support in helping to match the programme needs with the volunteers’ skills.
The Australian Aid supports the Scope Global program. The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade support VSA.