Stories from the field
Read about the wonderful work our volunteers are doing in the field, and some of their amazing, crazy, sometimes hair raising, inspirational stories.
Australian Volunteer Peter Sibly remembers the late Guido dos Santos. Guido was the last known surviving witness of the murder of the five foreign journalists in Balibo, Timor-Leste in 1975.
Watch three short videos from an AVI film project that saw a cross-section of Solomon Island community members speak candidly about the work of AusAID funded technical advisers in their country.
The first thing you notice about the women from the Bougainville Women’s Federation (BWF) are their giant smiles and infectious laughter. They are warm and generous, and chat with enthusiasm about their future. Their veneer is positive and upbeat, but scratch the surface long enough and the trauma and suffering these women experienced during the Bougainville Crisis is evident.
Check out three videos highlighting The Volunteer Experience in the words of the volunteers. Listen to the experiences of Stacey Sawchuk, Andi Jones, Michelle Taylor and Geoff Dean, before, during and after their volunteer assignment.
Climate change and the role of mangroves in projecting fragile coast lines are two important issues facing the communities living on the coastal zone of Soc Trang Province, Vietnam. To raise awareness of these issues, the ‘Management of Natural Resources in the Coastal Zone of Soc Trang Province’ project, better known as the GIZ project, organised the High School Knowledge Competition between six high schools in the province.
Maureen McInroy returned to Hue, Vietnam in May 2012 to start her third
Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) assignment in the region as a Teacher Trainer with the Thua Thien Hue Department of Education and Training. She reflects on how some work and cultural challenges had her feeling a little anxious on her return to a place that she knew so well.
Manith Chhoeng is working as an Organisational Development Adviser - Disability NGO with Battambang Disabled People's Organization (BDPO) as part of AusAID’s Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program. AVID volunteer Communications and Documentary Adviser Felix Hude interviewed Mannith about his work, his life and changing attitudes to disability in Cambodia.
South Australian resident Monika Vnuk is using her project management skills to support Papua New Guinea's Institute of Medical Research continue vital research into maternal health, malaria and sexually transmitted infections (STI's). Read about Monika's volunteer experience.
While tourism is still considered a relatively fledgling industry in Papua
New Guinea (PNG), AVID volunteer Project Coordinator, Elizabeth Brennan, has been working with the PNG Tourism Authority in Kokopo, East New Britain, to assist in the delivery of projects identifi ed by the Province’s Tourism Plan.
Perth resident, Dorinda Britto was born in one of the poorest countries in the world, but after moving to Australia with her parents at the age of 16, she experienced a life of opportunity, education and the freedom to speak and move - something she was not previously accustomed to in Burma.
Want to work as an international midwife? See the five exciting midwifery roles you could be working in in 2013
This year returned volunteers Greg and Gail Harper reconnected with many of their former colleagues, met through a volunteer assignment in the 1970s, from Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan in Kadat, Sabah, Malaysia. It was re-connection of extraordinary and emotional dimensions.
Rajni Madan is working as an ESL Teacher for Ethnic Minority Students at the Northwest University for Nationalities, in Lanzhou, China. Rajni's assignment is part of the Australian Volunteers for International Development program.
As Rajni writes, she is finding her expectations about working in China's education system are being challenged again and again.
Communications and Documentary Adviser Felix Hude has recently started his volunteer assignment at 3S Rivers Protection Network (3SPN) in Ratanakiri Province in north-eastern Cambodia. 3SPN assists the dam-affected indigenous communities living alongside the Sesan, Srepok and Srekong Rivers.
Bronwyn Driscoll is an Australian Volunteer Teacher Trainer in Tourism at Nha Trang University, Vietnam.
As Bronwyn writes, the concept of sustainable tourism is anything but straightforward in Vietnam.
Kerry Gibson had always felt a love for Africa, long before she first visited the vast continent. A volunteer assignment with AVI led to her spending ten years away from Australia, before returning to volunteer in her own community.
AVI Returned Volunteer Matthew Boland represented AVI at the Commonwealth Youth Forum held in Fremantle late last year.
Matthew, who volunteered with AVI in Thailand from 2008 to 2010, writes about his experience facilitating a workshop on creativity with youth leaders from around the world.
The life of a market trader is tough. In Swaziland, hundreds of women aged between 15-60 travel from all areas of the country to form informal markets two days a week.
Australian Volunteer Marketing and Branding Officer Michelle Drabarek writes about the efforts of the Manzini Satellite Health Project, to bring health services to Swaziland's women market traders.
From 2009 to 2011, Australian Volunteer Sarah Brewster worked as a doctor at the National Referral Hospital (also known as Number 9) in Honiara. She shares this personal account of her time at Number 9 as part of Solomon Island's International Volunteers Day in 2011.
In January 2011, 59-year-old Christine Ross joined her husband Wally, while he was on a one-year assignment with AVI as a VET Adviser - Bricklayer with the Namibian Training Authority. Here she tells her story from the partner’s perspective:
During the 1970s the Khmer Rouge ravaged the population of Cambodia in a brutal regime of social engineering and genocide. Thirty-one years later, ANU graduate law student, Lyma Nguyen, is finding that the path to justice is difficult.
Returned volunteer Catherine Craig writes about her experience working in Ho Chi Minh from October 2009 until November 2010 as a Special Needs Teacher, with the Loreto Vietnam-Australia Program.
Learning Vietnamese can be tricky, writes Catherine, but her and her husband Peter enjoyed their assignment so much they're returning to Viet Nam in February 2012.
Maureen McInroy writes about the challenges and the delights of teaching English to Vietnamese students in a classroom with no glass in its windows on a busy street, while on assignment for AVI.
Maureen worked between August 2007 and January 2011 at Hue University, College of Foreign Languages in Hue City, Viet Nam.
Volunteer assignments often teach the volunteer more than the volunteer can teach others. Paul O’Hare writes about the joys of bicycle commuting in Viet Nam, teaching enthusiastic students English, and, believe it or not, karaoke.
Paul worked teaching English for Specific Purposes in the hospitality industry in Hue, Central Viet Nam, from August 2009 to January 2011.
Returned Volunteers David and Christine Cloughley share their experience working with an NGO in Bali, Indonesia, and recount that the relationships they formed continue long after their volunteer assignment ended.
AVI / VSO volunteer Mar Knox looks back on her volunteering
experience in Ghana, working with her partner Mark for a
media-based NGO, RUMNET.
AVI volunteer Denise McArthur reflects on her volunteering
experience in Syria working on a breast cancer awareness program
for the Palestinian community.
Retirement left Glenys Davies restless and in need of a challenge. She owned a home in Perth, her children were grown and independent, and she had both energy and a set of useful skills honed over her career. Just as she had at the start of her career, Glenys Davies went looking for a challenge.
While there has been progress, there's still a long way to go in improving maternal health worldwide.
Tamara Jolly reflects on her experience working as a volunteer
Lauren Jones, working with the Namibia Training Authority, on
organising the 8th International Vocational Education and Training
Association (IVETA) Africa Conference. By all accounts a huge
undertaking and a roaring success.
Brooke Arnold, AVI/VSO volunteer in India, being interviewed for
the Asia Pacific journal of Advance Asia.
VSO volunteer Health Manager, Melinda Soos, shares her
experiences of living and working in regional Mongolia.
Five Aussies, a nun, a priest and a skipper take an amazing
Easter trip around the remote west coast of Bouganville, PNG.
Di Brown, working as a Nurse Educator at Sanglah Hospital in
Bali, introduces patient-centred care and a nursing handover
card, changing attitudes, improving care and garnering the
attention of the Indonesian Minister of Health.
You may remember Kerry from her previous AVI assignment, working
with young Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Kerry has now begun a
new assignment in bustling Ho Chi Minh city, Viet Nam, working as a
Fundraising Development Advisor with NGO Education for
A new challenge, sense of adventure and great support from AVI
has brought me to Viet Nam to work as Fundraising Development
Advisor with NGO Education for Development (EFD).
Teacher Katie Robinson has recently returned from a two year
volunteer placement in Ghana, West Africa, where she worked towards
improving the education of children with special needs. Here
she shares with us professional and personal challenges and the
major life changes the experience of volunteering with Volunteer
Service Overseas (VSO) has brought about.
The Future is You(th). Jan Cornall provides an inspiring
overview of Festival Mata Air, 2009. AVI volunteers Rudy Ardianto
and Vanessa Hyde began the festival in 2006, setting up a local
NGO, Komunitas TUK which runs environment focused community
programs throughout the year.
Dissatisfaction with working life in Melbourne led fundraiser Charlotte Shaw to take her skills to Africa as an international volunteer. Here, she shares with us the professional and personal challenges, and the major life changes the experience has brought about.
The Global Volunteer, parts 1, 2 & 3. Cheryl Malloy takes us
through her volunteering experience in Vanuatu, from preparing to
go to getting the work done. A great insight into the volunteering
The Difference a Cake Can Make - Tamara Jolly explores the
friendships formed, the experiences shared and the lessons we can
all learn from the humble cake.
The life of a volunteer is a life of adventure!
Sometimes we find adventures and sometimes they find us. At
least that is what I think happened to a group of volunteers in
Timor Leste recently.
Join AVI volunteer Anne Halloran for a fascinating ride on the
Tour de Timor.
Read Elaine Harrison's story who is currently a primary school
teacher volunteering in Namibia; Katima Mulilo under the AVI-VSO
AVI volunteer Ben Walta leads a high altitude, perilous journey
into Shangri-La and Landua's Mei Xiang cheese factory and yak farm,
where a sustainable development project has merged with the
traditional Tibetan way of life.
Laughter, tears and scotch and vodka have been the ingredients
of a successful volunteer placement for AVI/VSO volunteer, Kim
Yearwood. Find out more about her life in Mongolia.
When Aussie's think of Bali they think of "The Island of the
Gods", "Land of Sun and Surf", "Shapelle Corby", even the Bali
Bombings of 2002 and 2005 or they may even think of their next
holiday destination, but behind the images seen by the two week
tourist is quite a different story, there is extreme poverty and a
stretched health system.
On her VSO assignment, Vanessa Dunstan used her primary school
skills to achieve Guyana's professional development vision to
tackle severe teacher shortages.
AVI returned volunteer Trish Vogel's is a recipient of the 2009
Emergency Services Medal for her outstanding work at the SA