Do you dream of changing the world? Experiencing new cultures? Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone?
After finishing school many young people look to use a year away from education to travel the world and possibly help improve the world by volunteering with a charity.
We spoke to Raleigh international, a charitable organization that aims to support communities across the world through small-scale but high-impact, infrastructure projects.
Who are Raleigh International and what do you do?
We are a sustainable development charity. We run programmes in Nepal, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Borneo and Tanzania in which we work alongside poor rural communities, bringing real and lasting change. These projects are run with the help of volunteers from across the world, who join Raleigh to provide essential assistance on small-scale infrastructure projects to improve living and working conditions in deprived rural communities.
One of your schemes, Fembuz, celebrates female entrepreneurs; why is it so important to encourage women to further their education and career?
Women are at the centre of many families and communities that Raleigh works with and we believe it is essential to support them.
However Raleigh aims to work with men and women in every project. It is not about separating genders and solely promoting women; the divide we are seeing will only change when men and women work together.
You are helping people at grassroots levels; however, poverty is often a product of structural social and economic problems. How do you think the government’s approach to foreign aid and trade deals could change to relieve poverty?
We are proud to live in a country that pledges 0.7% of GNI (Gross National Income) to foreign aid. It is incredibly important that we can use our own wealth and influence to create a more equal world.
This is intrinsic to the Raleigh philosophy. We aim to create global citizens, citizens that will go on to change the world for the better, using their knowledge and experience in their future careers.
Volunteers at Raleigh work on essential projects, but how do you ensure work continues when your volunteers return home?
Our volunteers will typically work with us for several months. However, they are always part of a longer, larger project. When each cohort finishes their tenure, another team of volunteers arrives to continue the project.
It is not about simply building a well. We work with communities to manage the projects themselves, so that once we have cemented the foundations for the new infrastructure, communities are able to manage it themselves.
How do you differ from many organisations who simply sell the ‘Gap Yar’ experience?
Obviously there are many organisations that sell this ‘Gap Year’ experience to young people, yet have rather dubious charitable credentials.
However, the family of alumni that Raleigh has established is testament to the fact this is not the case in our organisation. Our volunteers receive comprehensive training before they begin overseas projects and work tirelessly to improve the lives of communities they work with.
What does it take to be a successful volunteer?
Here at Raleigh we have several core values we look for in a volunteer.
2: Open to Discovery
3: Never giving up
4: Create impact together
6: The Raleigh Way
Many of your trustees began as volunteers. How have you created such a large – and dedicated – cohort of alumni?
There are 42,000 Raleigh alumni across the globe. They are fantastic! Continually returning to help out, be it speaking at events, assisting with projects or even simply telling a friend about us.
The experiences they share while working with Raleigh creates a lasting affinity with us and their fellow volunteers. We are incredibly proud of them and the global citizens they have become.
What projects do you have coming up?
We have recently opened our first office in Nepal which has been extremely exciting. Our first team of volunteers has been out there conducting work with those communities that are trying to recover from the recent earthquake.
Recommendations / tips for those looking to get involved?
Anybody keen to get involved should head to our website, which is full of information about who we are, what we do and events you can attend. In addition, speaking to one of our alumni who have completed a project will show you if Raleigh is for you!
To find out more head to raleighinternational.org