Volunteers urge others to share skills overseas

Chris and Rohini Corfield pictured during their volunteer work in Nepal
Chris and Rohini Corfield pictured during their volunteer work in Nepal

A couple who experienced an amazing journey of discovery while volunteering in Nepal are encouraging others to share their skills overseas.

Chris Corfield was working as a technical advisor for IBM and his wife Rohini as a education officer for a local education authority when they volunteered to spend 18 months in Nepal with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO).

And after a nine-week induction course those skills were put to good use as they worked in the Nepalese department of education, producing analytical reports to show how foreign aid was helping children in the country. The experience found them dealing with a completely foreign culture, one in which power cuts, political demonstrations and general strikes provided regular challenges.

The couple were able to show the Nepalese the importance of IT in education as well as organising an event for World AIDS Day, to educate people about the need to support people living with HIV/AIDS and children who may be orphaned.

But they also learned important skills from the experience - such as how Nepal’s low cost approach does not rely on technical wizardry but on pooling knowledge and intelligence and the importance of developing cultural awareness to show colleagues respect and build relationships.

Since returning from Nepal in March 2007 the couple have given talks about the experience.

Now they are encouraging others to join VSO and share their skills.

Rohini said: “The 18 months in Nepal were an amazing journey of discovery - we both learnt so much personally and professionally from our VSO placement.

“While doing VSO we also got the chance to travel in Asia and we trekked in the Himalayas, visited Tibet and Thailand – all enriching experiences in different ways.

“VSO was not always fun – we also faced lots of challenges - including miscommunication, frequent power cuts and political demonstrations - but these all helped us to learn more about ourselves and build resilience.

“VSO continues to influence our lives in many ways.”

VSO has a recruitment campaign and is particularly looking for health and education professionals.

Visit www.vso.org.uk/recruitment for more.