Life as volunteer coordinator

This blog is written by RIPPLE Africa Project & Volunteer Coordinator, Nikki Luxford

Being Volunteer Coordinator at RIPPLE Africa is a fun, challenging and interesting job, one that I’m really enjoying.

Whilst I’m in the UK my main role with the volunteers is to help them get ready for their trip to Malawi, I’m also extremely lucky that my work requires me to be in Malawi too.

In Malawi we have Dan who is our Malawian Volunteer Coordinator and together we work to ensure that the volunteers are making the most of their skills and time to support and work with the various projects that RIPPLE Africa is involved with.

Over the past few weeks since I’ve been here we’ve had medics, teachers and even an IT consultant volunteering.

Since I started as Volunteer Coordinator, I’ve been working with Dan to share some new ideas based on my personal experience as a volunteer. Together, we’ve been working with the current group of volunteers to make sure that all future volunteers are as prepared as possible not only prior to coming to Malawi but also when they arrive at Mwaya Beach.

I’ve also been out with a number of the volunteers and our Malawian coordinators to see how they are getting on with their projects.

The other day I was privileged to be able to visit Faith, a 10 year old boy from Chifira who I have met and worked with on numerous occasions. Faith has spina bifida. He has a number of pressure sores and gangrenous toes. The team visiting him consisted of Jennifer and Lisa, two nurses from the Isle of Man and Charlotte a physiotherapist from England. They were supported by Esther, RIPPLE Africa’s medical volunteer coordinator.

It’s great to see our volunteers adapting to the limited resources available and doing their utmost to support those requiring assistance.

 Jennifer, Lisa and Charlotte working together to help Faith, a 10-year-old with pressure sores - he is probably the most patient little boy around. Jennifer, Lisa and Charlotte working together to help Faith, a 10-year-old with pressure sores – he is probably the most patient little boy around.

Tracey has recently returned home after her volunteer stay and was involved with our pre-schools. Tracey runs her own nursery in the UK and was in Malawi to observe and work with the pre-school coordinator and teachers to offer suggestions on alternative and new teaching methods which can be used in our eight pre-schools.

Charlotte has also been volunteering in the pre-schools, introducing new activities including sand pits which seem to have proved a huge hit with the children and teachers alike.

Rachel and her husband Jack are also volunteering, spending a total of 10 weeks with RIPPLE Africa. Rachel is a primary school teacher back in the UK so has been working with the pre-schools and primary school teachers, offering training and sharing ideas on teaching methods. With six primary schools and the eight pre-schools, Rachel has kept herself rather busy as she wants to be able to offer each set of teachers the opportunity of training in the areas they want support in.

 Rachel entertaining the troops at pre-school Rachel entertaining the troops at pre-school

Jack on the other hand was rather concerned prior to coming to RIPPLE Africa that he wouldn’t be busy and that his IT skills wouldn’t be of any use in rural Malawi. How wrong he was. Jack has been working with Bright, a teacher at Kapanda to help in their digital literacy classes but most importantly has been working in the health clinics as they are improving their computers.

Jack’s biggest task, one that he is still working on, is to create new software for the pharmacy at the rural hospital at Chintheche.

Kieran is an Irish doctor on his way home to Ireland after living and working in Australia for the past five or so years. During his volunteer placement, Kieran has found that he is able to make the most difference at the rural hospital working with the clinicians there, and has also spent time at the newly opened Nkhata Bay hospital assisting in emergency surgery.

Volunteering in the healthcare setting offers a very raw view on what life is like here as well as cases that ordinarily you might not experience back home in western society. Jennifer and Lisa were heroes on their first day of induction by saving a baby whilst Kieran has seen the challenges facing medical staff and their patients – he’s also treated a crocodile attack victim (who I might add, survived!).

Alyson is our newest volunteer. From Chicago, she’s the only volunteer from across the pond at present and is spending her six week placement working within the health clinics and in the environment sector conducting research before she returns to the States to start her Master’s in Public Health.

The rest of the year will also see a variety of volunteers arriving from across the UK, Germany, the States and Australia ready to share their skills with Malawi.

 Treat night for Team RIPPLE - Volunteers with RIPPLE Africa founders, UK staff and our American and Australian office teams! Treat night for Team RIPPLE – Volunteers with RIPPLE Africa founders, UK staff and our American and Australian office teams!

For anyone wishing to volunteer, take a look at our volunteer opportunities on www.rippleafrica.org/volunteer-in-africa

And if you’d just like to come out to visit RIPPLE Africa and see the projects and work we are doing, we love having visitors. Email nikki@rippleafrica.org

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