It has now been 6 months since I started volunteering with Volunteers Initiative Nepal (VIN) and a lot has happened in the last three months of my deployment (early 2020).
So far, I have worked on revising content, writing a volunteer policy and strategy, mentoring volunteer coordinators, and assisting the organization with presentations on the benefits of volunteering. But then the coronavirus pandemic occurred and this had a significant impact on the number of volunteers who canceled their placements at Volunteer Initiative Nepal (VIN) and the number of volunteers who tried to return home since the March lockdown. I have also been repatriated, with my volunteer management project suspended until further notice, but I am very happy with what I have achieved so far. The confinement in Nepal, but also in the UK where I live, has given me time to reflect and discuss the last few months in Nepal with the VIN organisation.
Between January and March, I was very busy as I supported the team of volunteers from VIN, Dinesh, Diwakar and Subheksya, other NGOs in the field, in the drafting of their annual report for 2019. It was an excellent opportunity to look back on 2019, reflect on what went well, and identify some areas for improvement. I really enjoyed reading the volunteers’ comments, gathering statistics, and working with the volunteer team to select the case studies. I also managed to bring some ideas on the graphs in the volunteering sections, especially the map where the volunteers come from. It was then time to look ahead and continue planning for 2020 to ensure that volunteers are safe, supported, and have the best possible experience. Of course, this was before the coronavirus took hold around the world!
For the VIN organization, volunteers are the key to the success of each program. It is a priority in my deployment to help the organization review the recruitment of national and international volunteers. This included helping the teams determine the number of volunteers needed, the month, and duration of their assignment. Together with the volunteer team and project managers, as well as senior management, I led a meeting to ensure that we established a quarterly calendar for the year to ensure continuity and to have the greatest possible impact on communities. This work was then translated into a spreadsheet, which listed volunteers by role, project, and length of time volunteered.
The recruitment of new interns and volunteers came at the right time, as it allowed us to celebrate Holi (Hindu color festival) together, which was a lot of fun! Whether interviewing volunteers, getting to know them during the integration process, or supporting them in their placement, I always like to learn something new about people. This is one of the reasons why I chose my career in volunteer management. I find people interesting and I am fascinated by the fact that, regardless of the country of origin, what binds them is the shared desire to learn together and make an impact. I am very conscious and privileged to be part of some volunteers’ lives, even if only for a short period of time.