When you take on the responsibility of starting a project, it's important to keep in mind the length of time you'll be around. Sometimes it doesn't matter - there is work that can be done in a few hours that will help. Most of the time itís very important and will have a great impact of the effectiveness of what you're doing.
- Be clear about how long you're going to stay with the people you are working with.
- Ensure that by the time you leave, any problems are solved or handed over to someone else.
- The length of a project/program should be a major consideration from the start. If it is going to be a long term project, then local support and involvement, if not leadership, needs to be implemented from the very start.
- Unforeseen issues will probably arise that affect the length of the project. This should be factored into the time scale.
- Any building work or other projects that require aftercare should allow suitable time to ensure that all issues are resolved. For example, if you build a house for a family and the next major storm blows the roof off; adequate systems need to be in place to deal with the issue. This is also relevant for machinery which will need maintenance; sponsorship with changing needs etc.
Personnel - Cultural Differences & Communication!!
- No doubt there will be differences of opinion, be it with other volunteers or locals you are working with; often leading to conflict. Such discourse can be a positive experience if you are willing to be flexible and open. Take the time to learn and observe the local culture; it will not only be personally rewarding, but will help you to understand more.
- Many differences come about because of cultural differences. As a volunteer, it's important to remember that you are working for and with the people. Many differences can be reconciled through open communication, involving a lot of listening and learning from both sides.
- One volunteer working long term in Thailand writes: "we always have differences of opinion. Regardless of how heated these differences are, they are not conflicts, rather they are just people coming from a different background with different ideas, which a lot of the time comes down to our cultures." She goes on to add, "I don't agree that there is conflict between staff, I think there are cross cultural differences that can be fixed through open and calm communication and flexibility on the volunteers' part".
- When the conflict, or difference, arises with other volunteers, act as you would in any other professional setting. Talk about the issue and attempt to reach a compromise. Communication will always play a vital role in resolving any issue that comes up.
Written By: Emily. Please contact us for any suggestions or further information.