Learning and growing together by sharing knowledge and experience
« What I consider most rewarding in my volunteering experience was the opportunity to work very closely with the local community, to have direct contact with them, to interact and learn from each other. Thanks to the EU Aid Volunteering I witnessed how the local community mobilizes itself for meeting its needs with local resources, and had the chance to support them in this process in order to increase the community’s resilience »
I was deployed in a small Muslim village Kokpayom in Southern Thailand, close to seawater canals surrounded by mangrove forests. The main host organization Dalaa has a long-term commitment in the village with focus on education, life-long learning, community development and environmental conservation.
It was my first field experience in Asia. Despite the cultural differences the hospitality of the local community made it feel like at home already from the beginning. During the last six months I have the chance to work with local people and organizations and to also visit other projects sites in different areas of Southern Thailand. This gave me a good overview of rural development and how the local communities can mobilize themselves to be more active.
As an EU Aid Volunteer specialized in development, I had the opportunity to work on different initiatives of the hosting organization and to further improve my professional skills and knowledge by gaining valuable field experience. My work was mainly focused on education and community development.
I assisted the hosting NGO in developing more effective networking activities, so that it can build stronger and sustainable partnerships. One of my main tasks was to support the NGO in developing a more strategic partnership with local community college, with the goal to promote and support education accessible to everyone, life-long learning for better future prospects and community development. The two organizations are now in process of finalizing a Memorandum of Understanding which will make the partnership official.
It was an excellent opportunity to put my professional expertise into service of the local NGO to identify the community’s needs by developing the pilot phase of Kokpayom community needs & strengths assessment and training local volunteers on the tool. The initiative to make such a comprehensive assessment was first of its kind for the community, as previous research were with not so broad scope and not targeting the entire population of village. The hosting NGO is now familiar with the assessment tool and will use it again in the next phase of the assessment in January 2019. The outcome of it would help the NGO to improve its activities and programs, so that they can reach even more people in the village, meet the real needs of the community and provide new opportunities for learning, self-growth and development. Furthermore, the assessment will contribute to dissemination of knowledge and skills, and building local capacities as the trained local volunteers (high school and university students), who helped in conducting the survey, will pass this knowledge to their peers. The pilot phase’s results confirmed the credibility of the NGO and its key role for community development and empowerment.
A project I embraced wholeheartedly and worked on with great pleasure was related to children education and girls’ empowerment. I had the chance to teach at local schools and get better familiar with the local educational system. We also organized after-school activities for engaging the children and youth and encouraging them to be active members of their communities. The village has now newly established ‘Girls club’ whose activities are expanding thanks to the creativity of the girls and more children show interest in joining it.
What I consider most rewarding in my volunteering experience was the opportunity to work very closely with the local community, to have direct contact with them, to interact and learn from each other. Thanks to the EU Aid Volunteering I witnessed how the local community mobilizes itself for meeting its needs with local resources, and had the chance to support them in this process in order to increase the community’s resilience. The hospitality and kindness with which the local people hosted the volunteers made the deployment project successful and further motivated me to continue my professional development in this field.