I came across this overseas volunteering organisation The Daneford Trust in the summer of June 2010, through my mother who saw an advert in our local borough newspaper The East End Life which a weekly newspaper for the LB of Tower Hamlets. A few days later after seeing the advert I checked out the Daneford Trust website and downloaded the application form and in turn got a reply from Tony Stevens inviting me to come in and have a meeting to discuss what I would be interesting in doing and where I would also like to go as well.
We set up monthly meetings on my progress in fundraising money towards my overseas volunteering programme. We also came to an agreement at the first meeting that I would go and do volunteering in St Vincent and the Grenadines and to do my placements at various young people’s projects, the main one at Liberty Lodge Boys Training Centre. Other placements would be at the Helping Hands Centre and the Children Against Poverty, a 3 weeks programme running during the summer holidays.
I arrived in Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines from 20th June 2011 to 10th January 2012. This was my first visit to this part of the Caribbean and I was nervous as I left home and headed to the unknown, for what I hoped would be 8 months of an adventure and a great experience, after less than 1 year of raising the money to go and volunteer in SVG. I also had a feature in the East End Life, the local Tower Hamlets newspaper about my trip to SVG, a few weeks before I went overseas.
Children Against Poverty (CAP)
The CAP programme was my first placement on arriving to St Vincent and I went for a planning meeting with fellow volunteer Ivan Mbogo, another Daneford Trust volunteer who was volunteering on a short term scheme in SVG. He was also working on the CAP programme and joined me for a this meeting with the Ministry of National Mobilisation, Social Development, Family, Gender Affairs, Persons With Disabilities and Youth. This meeting was to find out more about the CAP programme from the co-ordinator Mr Roger Young.
We went on a training day on the 7th July 2011 which provided an overview of the CAP programme and what the centres will be implementing on the 3 week programme. This was literacy and numeracy, as well as sports and ICT, as most children had laptops as a result of a recent government scheme. I enjoyed working on CAP, based at the Anglican School of Kingstown doing sports such as football and cricket and also doing literacy and numeracy games to make the learning fun and engaging. I found the children all to be varying ability although much of it was for children who had fallen behind at school.
I spent 3 weeks at the same location which helped me to get to know all the children. There were some of boys from Liberty Lodge Boys Home who were also on the CAP programme, which helped me get to know some of boys from LLBTC before i went to work up there from augus
The days started at 9am and lasted till 1pm, so it wasn’t really long but it was intense. I was joined there by Kawsar for a few days. He was another Daneford Trust volunteer who was over from London on a short trip over to do the CAP programme. I successfully completed my time there and enjoyed working here and although it was short days and only for 3 weeks, it set me up nicely for my future endvaours for the rest of my time in SVG.
I believe as a placement it should be used as a chance to get volunteers out there to work with the children and maybe try to make it a more youth-run programme rather than teacher-led, I would suggest that a more youth lead say 17 to 30 age range would could become like mentors using some of the maybe local sporting stars for sport lead activities possibly work closely with organisations such as svgff over at the football federation or svgoc which the Olympic committee instead of it being a fun lead as a whole activity experience logistically i believe it can be done maybe help on sponsorship through lime or digicel locally for extra funding towards achieving a successful programme for future cap activities to move forward maybe even sending out volunteers from the Daneford trust to svg to do help with planning and logistics.
Helping Hands Centre
Mr. Junior Bacchus is President of the Helping Hands Centre which can accommodate up to 25 students in its ground floor facilities at the New Montrose base in Kingstown. The main staffs are Mrs. Annis John, Mrs. Bacchus, Tasha, Pam, Asha and Ingrid. They work as a fantastic team to provide stimulating learning with more time surpassing the agreed goals with parents on the student’s individual learning plan.
They also have an 18 passenger disability bus which enables mobility impaired students from the Windward side of the island to travel to and from the centre each day, to participate in the daily programs. In addition to the work at the Centre, they also hold monthly meetings for parents who form an advocate group for parents with children who have a disability, in order to discuss and share issues to combat ignorance, stigma, and discrimination, and to make resources in SVG more accessible to those with disabilities.
I started here from September at the beginning of the school term and I would do Mondays a whole day from 9am till close at 3pm. It was such a wonderful placement which I enjoyed very much. It had such a family atmosphere where I was made to feel welcome from day 1 of joining. This helped me settle in from when I first arrived on June 20th 2011 and was where my accommodation was, in the apartment behind the HHC in the ground floor apartment. Here I was going to live on my own and was nice location-wise as I was 20 minutes from LLBTC and 5 minutes from the National Society Of Persons With Disability, where was to have one of my 3 confirmed placements before arriving and settling to my 6 month placement in Kingstown. As time went on I found two other placements: at Kingstown Government School and the SVG Football Federation, teaching and doing a reading group. This was two minutes from where I lived at the HHC apartment. I worked with the SVG Football Federation with the marketing team for the men’s national football teams World Cup 2014 qualifiers, which was pretty much every Wednesday after I joined there in early August 2011.
Liberty Lodge Boys Training Centre (LLBTC)
Liberty Lodge Boys Training Centre provides a caring environment for disadvantaged boys between 7 and 18 years of age. The centre provides educational and emotional support to students that will enable them to acquire the skills necessary to become more responsible and productive citizens and the Centre also uses sports and other physical activities to positively engage the students.
This is was my main placement for my 7 month volunteering placement and I worked there from last week in July 2011 till January 2012.
I started up at LLBTC after I finished at the CAP programme at the Anglican Primary School in town. I went up to LLBTC for a meeting with the Principal Mr Michael Ackers to discuss what I will be doing there. The first week I arrived he was on a summer break so I was introduced to all the boys on site by Mrs Brown and Mrs Ralph, who were the directors in charge while Mr Ackers was away. I introduced myself to the 16 boys and explained why I was here to volunteer. I asked them what they would be interested in learning for the first month as it was summer holidays and I would only have 6 of the boys from September to teach. These were the “inside learners” and the rest were “outside learners” who attended local primary and secondary schools respectively.
So from August 2nd I worked up at LLBTC from Monday to Friday for the whole month, doing basic computer skills with the boys in groups of 4 for an hour at a time. This would give me time to get to know all the boys at the centre. Their ages differed from youngest being 8 to the oldest who was 16 years of age. I planned lessons around a London Project and St Vincent, where I compared London and the whole of SVG. I broke down to subjects like transport, population, music etc and on what they knew of their own country. I talked to them about London during sessions I held on getting to know me and me getting to know them which was great time spent with them in groups and getting to know them. doing the teaching with the smaller group of boys the in school ones was great and enjoyed building up a fantastic relationship with them and seeing their smiles when arrived to teach them made every working moment there special to me in my life.
National Society Of Persons With Disabilities (NSPWD)
The National Society Of Persons With Disabilities is a cross-disability umbrella organisation founded in 1987. It is managed by persons with disabilities and is a duly constituted and registered not-for-profit organization, guided by the aims and objectives embodied in its Constitution in advocating for the rights and equality of persons with disabilities, while providing support and services where possible.
I arrived here on my first day of landing in the country to visit and have a meeting with the Director, Mrs Patricia Cumberbatch, accompanied by Ivan Mbogo, who had collected me from the airport that afternoon. I would also like to thank Mrs Cumberbatch whose son collected me and took me to NSPWD headquarters.
I had a meeting with Mrs Cumberbatch to discuss my entry into the country and what I will be doing in SVG which was 3 days up at LLBTC as my main placement, 1 day at helping hands centre and also would do 1 day a week at the NSPWD doing office work and help out around, doing admin stuff.
During my time at the NSPWD I did a summer basic Ict class at the NSPWD computer suite which ran for 2 weeks over the summer holiday for children from the special needs school after I had completed the CAP programme.
I also did a adult Ict class on a Tuesday also which enjoyed doing with the adults once a week which went well and was well attended I also helped NSPWD to with there
Kingstown Government School (KGS)
I started at Kingstown Government School around mid-October, after visiting there with Iain Mitchell who was doing a field visit to the country for the Daneford Trust, in order to meet new and current partners for volunteering in early September. I visited the school and did a team-teaching 1 hour session with a grade 5 class to 9-10 year olds, where we read stories and played literacy games. I was very happy with the success of the lesson and I wanted to join and do a weekly 2 hour session at the school, so I had brief meeting with the principal, Mrs Maureen Brackin and we agreed on the 2 hour session with 2 different grade 4 groups 8-9 years one hour each week every Thursday morning from 10am to 12 lunch. After this I would go and do my afternoon session with the boys up at LLBTC.
The two groups I was with were taught by Mrs Williams and Miss Douglas. They were both there with me during these reading groups. I also worked with the whole classes of 30 in each, which I enjoyed immensely as it was a mixture of boys and girls and I went in to read a few selected books including my Rastamouse series that I had borrowed from Helping Hands Centre in which i used to do my 2 year 4 groups reading sessions which i enjoyed working with the large groups of classes and I felt I had achieved and built up a rapport with the teachers and most importantly the children in the time i spent at this placement.
The head teacher was a great help, most importantly in helping to set up a link with Helping Hands Centre, especially when it was SVG disability month which runs from early November to mid December. I asked the head teacher to help with awareness for the children, to enable them to understand that people who have disabilities are people and they should be treated equally. I felt that in the country as a whole, as it was many years ago in the UK. Adults as well as children seemed scared to approach people with severe disabilities and I wanted to as well as the staff at HHC to help make a difference by changing many perspectives. It wasn’t going to happen overnight but it will start building blocks to make a change to Vincentian society. We had a morning session where the children from the year 5 groups got to ask questions to staff at the HHC and to myself. We got SVGTV, the sole TV channel for SVG to do a 20 minute feature on the work that is done at the HHC and how we tried to empower the children from where I was working This was on the weekly government feature programme on local issues from called APR and it helped to get national exposure during the national disability month in which is a month of activities for persons with disabilities. I myself featured on the TV recording of our morning at HHC which was a success and maintain links between HHC and KGS and hopefully get more Schools involved for 2012 and beyond.
The placement at Kingstown Government School has been left open to future volunteers to go to do a volunteer placement there. I recommend that future volunteers to go to KGS as it is a very good school, short on resources but it works at a good level and is improving all the time with a fantastically approachable and welcoming principal Mrs Bracken.
St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation (SVGFF)
The Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation (SVGFF) is the governing body of football on the island state of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It was founded in 1979 but only gained ascension into FIFA in 1988. It is currently based in Kingstown and oversees all aspects of football including the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines national football team and the NLA Premier League.
I emailed the SVGFF in August to offer to do some volunteering as I have a real passion for football and youth development. I explained that I was in SVG for eight months and I would be interested in volunteering there. I had a meeting with the then SVG General Secretary, Mr Hypolite. I said that I was very passionate about football and wanted to help with the improvement of Caribbean football and in working towards youth development. He told me that the following evening they were having a marketing meeting and invited me to sit in and join, if I would like to. The rest was history and it was fantastic seeing how football is run on a national level. This was a chance I had always wanted and I’m grateful that Mr. Hypolite gave me this chance which I took with both hands.
I basically worked on the marketing team for the 2014 world cup qualifiers to support the home games they had against rivals Grenada, Guatemala and Belize. I helped to sell tickets, set up press conferences for the media (pre match and post match of the games) and I also helped with ticket scanning at the main gates before one of the qualifying games. I helped with sales of the replica tops and to get them put in the national banks (which was my idea!). I spent time with the ladies national team went and watched one of their games, which was fun and enjoyable watching. Overall I enjoyed my time at the football federation and will look to continue to be in contact with them from late 2012. I have also got the president Mr Coombs to agree that the Daneford Trust should be a new partner organisation in SVG for future volunteers. I enjoyed my time here and found the staff and board members to be very welcoming and and I particularly enjoyed the marketing aspect of football. I am happy to have set up a project for future volunteers to work in youth development and to have the do business admin work at SVGFF.
With thanks to…
I would like to thank the following people for the support that they have given to me before, during and after my placement in St Vincent and the Grenadines:
- The Daneford Trust
- Tony “The Daneford Trust” Stevens
- Aisha Bandele (Mother)
- The British Foreign School Society
- The Grimmitt Trust
- The Alma Jean Henry Trust
- The Duveen Trust
- The Cole Trust
- Florence & Don McGregor Trust
- The Lord Mayors 800th Anniversary Awards Trust
St Vincent And The Grenadines:
- Liberty Lodge Boys Training Centre
- The Helping Hands Centre
- The National Society Of Persons With Disabilities)
- St Vincent and The Grenadines Football Federation
- Stoney Ground School (Kingstown Government School)
- Mrs Maureen Bracken (Principal KGS)
- Miss Douglas (Grade 4 Teacher KGS)
- Miss Williams (Grade 4 Teacher KGS)
- Children Against Poverty (CAP)
- Mr Roger Young (Head CAP Programme )
- Lime SVG (Landline Internet Mobile Entertainment)
- Ian Hypolite (Former General Sec SVGFF)
- Miss Idesha Jackson (Former Heading Of Marketing SVGFF)
- Mr Joseph Delves (Former President SVGFF)
- Mr Venold Coombs (President SVGFF)
- Mrs Annis John (Helping Hands Centre)
- Miss Pat Cumberbatch (NSPWD President)
- Mr Michael Ackers (Director LLBTC)
- Mrs Anita Ralph (Assistant Director LLBTC)
- Tasha Kydd (Helping Hands Centre Worker)
- Ronald Simmonds
- All the Staff At The HHC
- Scott Sharland (Peace Corps volunteer)
- Ivan Mbogo (Previous Daneford Volunteer)