We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles,
rather than by the quality of our service relationship to humanity.
- Martin Luther King, Jr
OUR IMPACT ABROAD
Developing World Connections developmental impact is significant. Our multitudes of volunteers have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours to worthy projects. Developing World Connections commits long-term to the communities we serve. By connecting people, we offer individuals the experience of global citizenship and solidarity, helping to contribute to the collective work of world peace.
Since the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, we have worked in the Tangalle region of Sri Lanka to help rebuild people's homes and lives. Our volunteers have built 29 new homes, complete with a community centre, prayer centre, playground, and a shop. We are now in the process of building a trades training facility to help ensure the region's economic sustainability.
Working with the City of Kamloops, we have helped establish the "Kamloops Tangalle Friendship Committee." This is a long-term support relationship between the citizens of Kamloops and the community of Tangalle, Sri Lanka. Through this partnership, tsunami ravaged villages have been rebuilt. English language and computer skills training has been provided for over 100 students. Tuition and scholarships have been provided for dozens of students.
Here are just a few of our success stories:
- In Cambodia, our volunteers have worked alongside the villagers of Chamcar Bei to build a community centre and playground, provide clean drinking water and well-bred goats and cows, and construct 13 "Dream Homes" for the community's poorest families.
- In Rajasthan, India, our volunteers have helped locals dig trenches and build sub-surface dams to retain monsoon rain water. The water is then used to irrigate their crops through the dry season. A better harvest for the villagers means more income to purchase properly-bred livestock and afford healthcare and education for their families.
- In Swaziland, where the average life expectancy is only 33 years, volunteers have worked to bring hope, health, and education to the orphans of HIV/AIDS. Our first student group constructed a community centre in Swaziland to provide local affected by HIV/AIDS with crucial training and income generating opportunities. Since then, several homes for child-led families have been built, as well as community care points that provide a daily meal and education to orphaned children.
- In Guatemala, 1,500 children now have a safe, welcoming place to go each day after school and a place to learn if they cannot afford to go to school.
- In Kenya, the forests around Mt. Kenya are starting to become green again thanks to the water tanks and irrigation lines that our volunteers help build alongside the local community.
These are just a few of the tangible, sustainable outcomes our volunteers and host communities have created together. It is difficult to quantify the hope shared between a volunteer and a local community member. Instead, we rely on the stories told by our volunteers as they return.
OUR IMPACT ON VOLUNTEERS
Every volunteer experience makes an impact. Of course, there is the measurable impact the host community and project beneficiaries experience. But there is also a personal impact our volunteers experience. Participants routinely say it was a life changing experience. Volunteers return filled with the satisfaction of knowing their financial and physical resources have helped someone in need achieve the means for a better, brighter future. Furthermore, it inspires empathy and compassion, which often leads participants to becoming more active volunteers in their own communities upon returning home.
We have consistently found that our participants have returned with a broadened global outlook and heightened cross-cultural sensitivities, and once they return home, they are committed to making their local communities and the global village a more humane place to live. It's not just us: research findings confirm it as well.
According to J. Proudfoot in the report, "International Volunteering: Looking Ahead," "there is an increased recognition of the role volunteers play in promoting global awareness and citizenship, both in the communities where they volunteer and back in their home country - building bridges between citizens around the world."[i]
A few reasons why we are so passionate about people volunteering in their global community:
- Canadians who have served abroad in the developing world are among the most active volunteers in Canada. It is also important to note that returned volunteers not only volunteer at a higher rate than most Canadians, but they are only more likely to volunteer for more than one organization.
- Two thirds (67%) of Canadians who have volunteered overseas get involved in volunteer activities in Canada through charitable or non-profit organizations and community groups. In comparison, only 45% of all Canadians volunteer through a non-profit organization. [ii]
- Returned participants who volunteered in Canada contributed an average of 241 hours between September 2004 and September 2005. In contrast, all Canadian volunteers contributed an average of 168 hours each. 58% of returned volunteers say their people skills had improved in terms of listening, cross-cultural communication, and conflict resolution. Overseas placements also challenged their values and perspectives. [iii]
- In their 2005 report, Universalia et al. concluded the overseas experience leaves a deep and long lasting impression on individual volunteers: "This effect lasts for the rest of their lives; in fact, some of the volunteers interviewed actually referred to their experience overseas as the watershed moment in their lives."[iv]
[i] Proudfoot, J. (2001). International volunteering: looking ahead. Montreal, QC: Canadian International Volunteer Coalition.
[ii] Kelly, S. & Case, R. (2007) The Overseas Experience: A Passport to Improved Volunteering. ON: Knowledge Development Centre, Imagine Canada.
[iii] Kelly, S. & Case, R. (2007) The Overseas Experience: A Passport to Improved Volunteering. ON: Knowledge Development Centre, Imagine Canada
[iv] Universalia, E. T. Jackson & Associates, & Salasan. (2005). The power of volunteering: A review of the Canadian Volunteer Cooperation Program. Montreal, QC: Universalia.