Why we started and how we have ended up where we are today.
As we have been the managers of children’s homes and service projects ourselves, we know how hard it is to survive in a Third World country with the currency that is available there. Just day to day survival and collecting for the projects takes all the time and energy of the staff. There may be little time left over at the end of the day to give the individual attention that the children really need.
Donations from international volunteers make a world of difference. It allows the director to be temporarily freed from the vicious cycle of scurrying around finding sufficient food, medicine and materials for the kids, which is always a constant worry. The director can then focus on more quality care for the children and assisting the volunteer in providing the environment for this. Besides their donation, a volunteer is also providing love and care to children who desperately need it. Volunteers have received much inspiration from getting involved in the programs and many have formed new and deep core values about what is really important in their lives and their priorities.
In the beginning….
Prior to her trip to Brazil, Kate was the director of Lotus Children’s Centre in Ghana for 4 years. It was during this time that Kate started to host international volunteers. She was approached by a Canadian volunteer recruitment agency who offered to send volunteers to the children’s home. Kate was asked if she could provide free food and accommodation in exchange for their volunteer work. She readily agreed.
Shortly after the first volunteer arrived, when Kate was discussing with her about travel costs, the volunteer mentioned that she had paid $3000 for her placement. Kate was appalled to discover that the volunteer had given this money to the organisation for her 3 months volunteering experience, and this did not include the cost of the plane ticket. None of that money was offered to support the children’s home. This is not an uncommon incident. It is becoming increasingly common. Then and there Kate contacted the Canadian organisation and told them that she did not want any more of their volunteers. She started to look for volunteers herself on the internet by posting little ads on Idealist.org and vowed that she would return to NZ to get a degree in ICT so that she could create her own website to challenge the profiteering volunteer agencies who piggy-back on the goodwill generated by NGOs in developing countries to line their own pockets.
A Volunteer-oriented Organisation
Unfortunately, exploiting the sincerity of the volunteer community has become a business opportunity for some organisations. There is no guarantee that any of the money that they collect will trickle down into the projects (and trickle it will be if it does ever reach there). We are totally opposed to this business-oriented approach. A volunteer is essentially paying someone a huge amount just to find a project for them to volunteer in, in a developing country. It is overlooked that volunteers are not getting paid during their service and these organisations collect from them accomodation fees which are the equivalent to what it may cost to live in a developed country! (When in reality living costs are about a quarter to a tenth of that in the West)
Applying through KIDS, you, as the volunteer, will know exactly where all costs and money are going. You will give your donation into the hands of the orphanage director yourself, and you will be paying for your food and accommodation at the true local rate. You will be arranging much needed supplies for the orphanage through your Treasure Hunt, which are not available in the local project site, or are way beyond the budgets of the orphanage.
There will be much exchange of emails before you arrive, in which instance you will find out what the needs of the specific childrens project are. Many volunteers are even able to collect more than they need or bring extra funds to buy supplies for a specific project which they may be being put in-charge of. The volunteers will account for this back to their sponsors and donors in their home country.
Assisting Childrens Projects Around the World
There are still so many unknown and unrecognised orphanages and schools doing service work around the world, who are struggling to survive and provide the care that they wish to. With the arrival of international volunteers into their projects, they will be able to realise some more of their objectives.
Many directors are unfamiliar and non-confident with the internet (we know because we were once too!) Besides this they don’t have the luxury of having regular access to computers and the internet. We intend to help them with this by organising volunteers to assist in e-communications (Volunteer coordinators) and improving the living conditions of the children and the opportunities afforded them.