Michelle got in contact with Village Aid in 2015 and has been doing some fantastic work for us here in the office. Find out more about why Michelle got involved and what inspires her to keep supporting us.
Why Village Aid?- I recently returned from Tanzania where I carried out voluntary work for a charity based in London, with very similar values as Village Aid. My experience made me very passionate about continuing to make a difference in Africa, and so I wanted to find a local charity that I could volunteer for to feel like I am still making an impact while I am in the UK.
How did you find out about Village Aid? – Having decided I wanted to find a charity that supported African communities, I researched online to find one close enough for me to be able to go in and volunteer. Village Aid was top of the list and when I looked into Village Aid’s programmes, and the way their programmes are carried out, it became clear that the compassion and values that Village Aid have are very similar to those of the charity I worked for in Tanzania. Having seen what a difference it can make to a community when they are given an opportunity to have an input on programmes to address needs that they have highlighted, I was passionate about volunteering for an organisation that doesn’t just go into communities, tell them what they think the issues are and set up programmes that they think that community needs.
Which is your favourite Village Aid programme? – I think that the ‘In Search of Common Ground’ Programme in Cameroon is fantastic, and such a worthwhile project! Cattle herders and crop farmers are often finding themselves battling against one another just to make a living, with farmers planting crops on herders land, and then cattle grazing on the farmer’s crops. For the locals, it may feel like a battle that neither side can win.
Facilitating dialogue platforms between the two groups has allowed conflict to be resolved peacefully and allow the community to work in harmony to make a living.
This project is so unique and so beneficial to the local community, and it exists because Village Aid seeks the input of the community itself about what support is needed. It also provides such a sustainable difference to the community and their individual livelihoods.
What sort of things have you got involved with at Village Aid? – I have been working on developing fundraising opportunities with local organisations, events and individuals. This has included organising bucket collections and asking for sponsorship at local well dressings. This has been alongside an effort to raise local awareness of Village Aid such as providing informative decorations for Village Aid’s tree at Bakewell Christmas Tree Festival.
What would you like to achieve by volunteering at Village Aid in the future? – I would love to one day be able to go out to the countries that Village Aid works in and see the difference that the programmes are making in the local community first hand. I have been inspired to learn about the range of different ways in which Village Aid is impacting thousands and thousands of lives, and it would be amazing to feel that effect within the community.
What’s the best thing about Village Aid? – I think that the best thing about Village Aid is its uniqueness. So although the values are similar to a charity I previously supported, their approach to their involvement in communities is so subjective and branches out into small villages instead of larger cities. The benefits of their programmes are so sustainable and life changing for the community because they are addressing issues that the community itself have identified and asked for support with.
What’s the worst?! – I live in Sheffield, so driving through the thick fog over the hills in the morning is a weekly challenge!
What have you most enjoyed? – I have enjoyed learning so much about Village Aid and developing my own skills through my volunteer work. I have also really enjoyed the rewarding feeling that I am helping to support a charity that makes such an impact within African communities, which I didn’t want to let go of when I returned from my time in Tanzania.
What tips would you give new volunteers at Village Aid? – Ask lots of questions and learn as much as you can! Village Aid do so much and it’s all so inspiring, and knowing how much of a difference Village Aid is making contributes to how rewarding the role is.
More About Michelle
What do you do when you aren’t at Village Aid? – Having studied a degree in Psychology, I currently work in a college which provides vocational qualifications for 16-25 year olds with learning disabilities and/or mental health issues. I also spend a lot of time reading, volunteering for another psychology-related charity and planning my next bout of travelling.
What is your favourite film? – A more recent release; I was more moved that I expected to be by ‘The Theory of Everything’ and it instilled a sense of British pride that I can sometimes lose sight of.
What is your Favourite Book? I’m a lover of dark psychological thrillers, and ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ by Lionel Shriver is so cleverly crafted, and a book I have read so much but continues to have the same dramatic effect every time!
What is your Favourite Food? – I can’t get enough of Thai food, and as well as being delicious and light, it takes me straight back to my time travelling Asia and eating meals for under £2 from questionable roadside vendors!
Michelle is in the office every Monday so if you are in say hello. Thank you for being such an important part of the team Michelle!
We have many volunteers working with us. If you are interested in volunteering please phone or email. We can find an opportunity that suits you based on your interests. If you don’t live in or near Bakewell don’t worry, you may be able to help from where you live.