2011 has certainly been a busy year for VESL… here are a few highlights from the year :
We had great success with our new programme working in schools within fishing communities in Kerala (South India). All of this year’s volunteers did a magnificent job in helping to lay down the foundations of this programme. It was a big challenge and we couldn’t be prouder of them and all they achieved.
Thanks go to all the volunteers, schools, host families and co-ordinators, with special thanks to Kath and Johnson who have been of invaluable help throughout!
We were also able to send another great set of teacher workshops in Northern Thailand this year in addition to all of the summer and long term volunteers who have all been truly amazing – thanks to all the volunteers and to Nueng, the schools and all our host families in Chiang Rai.
“I am very proud of working for VESL as a country manager in Thailand because I can make poor students and primary school teachers in rural areas of upper northern provinces have a good chance of learning the English language and culture through the volunteers.” – Mr Nueng Yanarangsee, In-country Co-ordinator, Thailand
“The Teacher Workshops were really well received by all. I think we all felt that we had something to get stuck into and were able to make a difference. Above all, the students and the teachers were really kind and helpful and full of fun.” – Dick Wardell, Teacher Workshop Volunteer, 2011
We had an excellent summer programme in Sri Lanka this year, again with thanks to Kath and our in-country co-ordinators, the schools and host families alike. We were also able to restart our long term projects there too, which are still ongoing…
This year we were working within Sabaragamuwa Provincial (Ratnapura District) and we were able to send out a good mix of short and longer volunteers to work in both primary and secondary schools. We were also able to work closely with the Regional English Support Centre (RESC) in Eheliyagoda.
“The volunteers did a magnificent job, both in teaching and in adapting to the new culture. They put on concerts on their final day and it was wonderful to see the kids performing for each other in English. A very big thank you must go out to everyone involved, for all their hard work in Sri Lanka this year.” Kath McGuire, Programme Co-ordinator, Sri Lanka 2011
We’re please to have been able to support our link orphanage project with another volunteer again this Autumn – thanks go to Kirsty for all her hard work and to Victor and his Wife for their ongoing support, in addition to Bharavi (our local rep).
Off the beaten track
This year we were lucky enough to gain a very adventurous volunteer in Northern Thailand – Thomas Grunwell. After volunteering for six months with VESL at a school about 50 kilometers north of Chiang Rai, Thomas established a school linking scheme with the assistance of VESL’s Wild Fund. He has since continued his adventure by cycling through South East Asia.
We’re hoping to bend his ear about a possible volunteer programme in Laos when he gets back to the UK – watch this space for more on that in 2012/13.
You can read more of Tom’s incredible journey and view some spectacular photography on his own blog - http://tomgrunwell.blogspot.com/
Global Links Project
VESL was pleased to be awarded a grant by the British Council / DFID to run a Global Community Links Programme. VESL, alongside its partner NGO in Southern India, VeSSS, ran a series of workshops for young people across the UK. Nearly 300 young people attended the workshops which were run by 18 volunteers. During the workshops the young people learnt about the Millennium Development Goals, education and schools overseas and learnt first-hand from past VESL volunteers about communities overseas different to their own.
The students of Maltby Academy, near Rotherham, were so inspired by the project that as part on their commitment to the scheme they were able to raise over £700 which we were able to put towards school projects in Kerala.
Website & Volunteer Blog
Oh and of course, we also gained our new website (thanks Ian) and started our very own volunteer blog… (thanks Kath!!!).
What’s coming in 2012
VESL is going to be 10 years old in 2012 – where has the time gone? We’re making an attempt to update all our contact details for past volunteers so that we can try to organise some sort of reunion / celebration later in 2012 – if you’re a past volunteer and haven’t heard from us recently, please send us your current contact details and we’ll keep you informed when we have finalised a plan… (all ideas welcome by the way)
We’re also extremely excited about our new Student Leadership Programme for 2012 which should see several teams of volunteers being lead by past volunteers heading out to Thailand, Sri Lanka and Kerala next summer – you’ll have to watch this space for more news on the success of that programme but we’ve all got out fingers firmly crossed for its success and we’ve got some fantastic return volunteers on board so we’re very hopeful for the future of VESL.
There have been so many stories to tell this year – sorry if your’s didn’t get a mention but we’ll be trying to add them to the volunteer blog in the coming weeks…
There are too many people to thank everyone for all their hard work and support – VESL would be nothing without you all and everyones continued commitment to the charity is very much appreciated – thanks everyone!
All that remains is to say that we hope you all have a lot of festive fun this weekend and 2012 proves to be a great one for everyone.
Kind regards from everyone in team VESL.