Pauline Faughnan, a retired community development professional and former VSO volunteer, spent three months researching the barriers affecting girls from getting the education they need in Karamoja, Uganda. Her report, “From the Ground Up” has been crucial in understanding the cultural norms, like early marriage, and attitudes which prevent girls from getting an education and will inform VSO’s future education programming in sub-Saharan Africa. Here are just some of Pauline’s findings…
Retired primary school principal Padraic McKeon has volunteered with VSO Ireland three times, in South Sudan, Myanmar and most recently on an Irish Aid funded project in Uganda. Here, he outlines his motivations for initially taking the plunge and why he has no regrets.
‘Sudan? That’s a trouble-spot, isn’t it?
‘Is it very hot out there?’
‘You’re a brave man.’
‘I’d love to do it – sometime.’
VSO volunteer Lisa McMahon working as a Teaching Methodology Advisor in Murehe Primary School
Without volunteers, VSO Ireland (Voluntary Service Overseas) wouldn't exist – that much is obvious from our name alone. Our education and healthcare programmes wouldn't have helped some of the world's most disadvantaged people. We wouldn't have changed policies and practices in marginalised communities for the better. And I certainly wouldn't be writing this blog post.
Dr Siobhán Neville is currently volunteering with the Lindi Region Health Management Team (RHMT) in Tanzania
If you're not volunteering already, there are plenty of reasons why you should be. Not only can it bring about change for less fortunate people and communities, there are plenty of personal rewards to be reaped as well…
Negative attitude to girls’ education
"It is better to be at school than at home. At home parents will prompt you to get married. At home – there is hardly anything good which will help with my future."
- A girl from Kacheri school
Being an adolescent girl isn't easy anywhere in the world. Now imagine coming of age in Karamoja, Northern Uganda.
So we reach February and it’s still raining, thanks Be to God! I know people in Ireland might think it strange that we would welcome rain but it grows the crops and most of all it takes the heat out of the day, in fact the evenings and mornings can be very pleasant, for a Mzungu (Whites/Europeans) anyway. There were a few nights in January when I could have done with a light blanket, so I bought a Shuka, the traditional Maasai blanket, red of course and it really works, keeps me warm at night and in the morning
Why did you volunteer?
I’ve always enjoyed volunteering. Not only does it make you feel good for contributing and getting involved but you know you can genuinely make a difference. A lot of people are in a unique position where they can contribute through volunteering. You can educate others who can then pass that on. You can help others who are in need of your help. You can make a difference in countries that aren’t as privileged as our countries. That is a wonderful feeling, but you have to make it happen. I did and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Here I am in Shinyanga, or “Shy town”, and I have just finished three months of a two year contract. I am a School Leadership Advisor/Facilitator in Tanzania with EQUIP (Education Quality Improvement Programme), a DFID (Department for International Development) funded programme managed by Cambridge Education, a member of the Mott MacDonald Group, KPMG and International Rescue Committee (IRC).