Why I volunteer for African Initiatives

African InitiativesThis summer we were lucky enough to welcome a number of new volunteers to African Initiatives’ HQ in Bristol to help us out on a range of different projects. In this blog, Paula Merikoski talks about her own experiences and encourages you to get involved in AI’s latest volunteering drive.

“I started volunteering for African Initiatives this summer. I was really excited about the opportunity for a number of reasons – it gave me the chance to do in practice the kind of work I want to do when I graduate and to contribute to something valuable during my time here.

I had not worked in a charity before and what I had in mind was a communal working environment where people share tasks and do things together. It proved to be just that. In a small organisation everyone is engaged in multiple things, and there is always something going on that needs everyone’s attention, such as an up-coming event. I found it fascinating and not to mention useful, because part of why I am here is to learn new skills for working life and to see up-close how an NGO works.

Personally I am very frustrated about the inequalities of the world. I feel we should all be more in touch with global issues and do our part in reducing injustices and inequalities. NGOs have a huge role in changing these issues, as change often is initiated in the grass-roots level long before it is pushed through to political agendas. I believe it is our responsibility to help, or at least be interested in, the rest of the world.

Inequality and poverty did not just happen, nor do they result from lack of knowledge or abilities. As one of my favourite Professors at University taught me: Africa did not happen to become poor – it was made poor first by European colonizers, then by multinational corporations. The wealth, safety and consumerist pleasures we enjoy here are made possible by global inequality. We live in a world of shared economy, resources and environment; we should also learn shared respect and solidarity.

Volunteering is a great way to gain valuable working experience by doing something you believe in. I believe all work is important but there is something special in knowing your work has a direct effect in people’s lives. Besides, it is fun! I have worked in many places before, but I never received the satisfaction of doing something genuinely useful before engaging in charity work.”

We are currently recruiting for volunteers to help with our Another Brick in the Wall project; an Illustrator / Graphic Designer to help us design catchy posters; and people who could help with our upcoming Women’s Rights Conference.

If you’d be interested in giving your time to help African Initiatives see http://www.african-initiatives.org.uk/volunteering/ .