17.03.2020 Statement on International Volunteering in 2020 and COVID-19
As an organisation, we are in unchartered territory along with the rest of the world as we respond to the threat posed by COVID-19. The health and safety of our volunteers, staff and the communities that we work with is our number one priority at this time. We are guided by the governments in Ireland and in Kenya, the HSE and the Ministry of Health.
Regretfully we have taken the decision to cancel our international Harambee volunteer projects this year – the first cases of the COVID-19 virus were announced in Kenya this weekend and the President has announced similar safeguarding measures as what we now have in Ireland – in the coming week all schools in Kenya will close; there are restrictions to public gatherings in place and all travel is suspended for all persons coming into Kenya from any country with reported coronavirus cases.
None of us know how long these measures will be in place but at this stage we know it will be months not weeks before things start to get back to normal. There will be huge disruption to the delivery of our programmes, aside from the threat to the health of our staff, partners and the communities with whom we work. Reducing and dealing with the consequences of COVID-19 is our priority now. We stand in solidarity with the communities we work with in Kenya and we will be doing all that we can to support them through this time.
We want to thank you for your interest in our Harambee volunteer project and for your support – cancellation for 2020 is more than disappointing but we feel it is the most responsible and safest course of action. We would like to ask you to please consider travelling with us in 2021 instead – consider this a postponement of your plans rather than a cancellation. All being well, we would be very happy to welcome you to Kenya next year.
We are now facing an unprecedented challenge to our income in 2020 as fundraising plans will be severely impacted. We will be sharing plans for online appeals in the coming weeks and if you can support them with donations and by sharing them with those friends and contacts who would have supported your fundraising efforts this year we would be very grateful. Please follow us on social media for updates – we are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us on 086 8744612. Stay safe and stay healthy and keep up the handwashing.
“If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever." Kofi Annan
Could you be that volunteer?
2020 marks the beginning of a decade of action on delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org – these goals aim to improve the lives and future prospects of everyone, everywhere. In essence they aim to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and solve climate change.
Brighter Communities Worldwide are committed to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through our strategies, programmes and ways of work.
As a volunteer, you bring with you a powerful means of helping to achieve these goals as you bring your skills, expertise, energy and knowledge to share with a new community – through volunteering you learn more and gain a sense of responsibility for yourself as a global citizen. The impact of your volunteer experience creates ripples of impact not just on the community you volunteer with but on your own community when you come home.
Is this your year to take action on poverty, climate change, quality education, gender, good health, water and sanitation?
If you love a challenge, love to learn, enjoy stepping outside your comfort zone and care about the planet we are living on and the people you share it with – then we are looking for you to volunteer with us in Kenya.
Harambee is a Swahili word which means ‘working together’ and this is what our volunteer projects are all about – working together with local staff and volunteers in Kenya. The projects happen twice a year during June/July and during October/November and volunteers take part as teams.
Harambee provides a short-term volunteer placement for 2 or 3 weeks in Kenya along with a 4 day training programme to prepare you for the experience. Not enough time to change the world but enough time to change your way of looking at it.
This is an opportunity for you to share your skills and experience in a way that will help bring positive change to peoples lives. It’s your chance to explore community development in the context of rural Kenya, to deepen your understanding of global development issues and explore your place in the global agenda of sustainable development.
Go with an open mind, a flexible nature and a willingness to help. Share the experience with team mates who start out as strangers and become close friends and local people who will amaze you with their positive attitude, perseverance and ingenuity. Come home with a wealth of memories, a personally enriching experience and a whole new perspective on life.
Click here for information on our current Harambee projects including dates, costs, fundraising, selection process and the volunteer role.
Comhlamh Volunteer Charter
Brighter Communities Worldwide are signatories to the Comhlamh Volunteer Charter which is a guide for people who are going to volunteer overseas in developing countries. It sets out seven principles that aim to encourage responsible, responsive international volunteering. Each of these principles contains a list of questions to help you make sure that you have thought about the issues raised, and to ensure that you know why they are important.
The Comhlamh Code of Good Practice (CoGP) for Volunteer Sending Agencies
Brighter Communities Worldwide is a signatory to the Comhlamh Code of Good Practice.
Comhlámh’s Code of Good Practice is a set of standards for Irish Volunteer Sending Agencies facilitating international placements. The Code is based on a vision of volunteers working in solidarity for a just, equitable and sustainable world. It promotes responsible and responsive volunteering to ensure a positive impact for the overseas project and community, the volunteer and the sending agency.
The Code promotes development education, which enables people to more deeply understand the world around them and to address the root causes of inequality and poverty.
Every Volunteer Sending Agency, which is party to the Code of Good Practice, commits to the implementation of the Code’s five values that underpin the work of international volunteer programmes. These are solidarity, respect, social justice, ecological sustainability and integrity. Full details of the Code are here.
Comhlámh is a member organisation that works to mobilise for an equitable and sustainable world. As the Irish association of development workers and volunteers, Comhlámh promotes responsible international volunteering and development work. They support people in their journey of working for social justice. They work with returned volunteers, partner organisations and member groups to foster just, inclusive societies, through progressive grassroots activism in Ireland and internationally.
More details of Comhlámh’s work can be found here.
…and find out what other volunteers think
Check out what volunteers have said on our YouTube channel – link to you tube volunteer testimonials. Read the fascinating accounts on the blog from volunteers on the ground in Kenya during the July and November Harambee months.