- Organization Name:Africa Volunteer Corps
- Address:P.O. Box 8607
Tanzania, United Republic of
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Africa Volunteer Corps (AVC) is a volunteer service fellowship that provides emerging African development leaders with training and professional experience. AVC unites passionate, qualified African volunteers with African initiatives to deepen the impact of locally initiated development projects and provide the fellows with the opportunity to hone practical skills, foster mutually beneficial relationships and play a vital role in shaping Africa’s future.
AVC assembles driven, motivated and enthusiastic African volunteers who are dedicated to development and eager to gain needed employment skills and professional contacts by working in Africa and volunteering their time with local development initiatives. Each volunteer commits to the program for one year. This includes 2 weeks of training followed by 12 months of working full-time with a local organization. Throughout the 12 month tenure, volunteers also participate in monthly workshops to deepen their professional education and impact.
After a 2-week training orientation, the volunteers begin full time employment with a local organization, with a living stipend paid by AVC. Volunteer applicants are matched with organization applicants based on educational backgrounds, skills, interests, and goals. Since many different types of organizations apply and the needs of local projects are myriad, AVC volunteers may do many types of work, from teaching computers to teaching nursery school, from bookkeeping to fundraising to general managerial roles. The specific work they do depends on the needs of the project with which they are engaged. We tend to see that volunteers take on multiple roles within an organization in order to increase its capacity. For example, a volunteer may work mainly as a teacher but also help with fundraising and social media.
The 2-week orientation consists of courses in computer skills, accounting, budgeting and record keeping, fundraising, management skills, leadership, program design and implementation, social activities organization, self-awareness and group interaction, photos/videos, social media/blogs/social sharing, communication skills, and goal setting.
Ongoing monthly workshops address topics similar to those in the initial orientation but with an emphasis on complementing the real-world experience of the volunteer placements. Periodic guest speakers from different development organizations and sectors provide the volunteers with information, inspiration and role models. We also invite volunteers to design and lead workshops based on their skill set in order to engage in peer education.
The third week of every month, each volunteer has a one-on-one session with a Program Officer for mutual feedback and to receive guidance and help in overcoming challenges and obstacles. In these meetings volunteers also submit a review of the past month and set goals for the upcoming month. The last Friday of every month, volunteers meet as a group to share experiences, discuss challenges, and act as a resource for each other. Volunteers are also expected to keep journals and blogs in order to help them reflect on and share their challenges and successes.
The Program Officer checks in with the placement sites regularly in order to make sure there is effective communication and progressive skills transfer between the volunteer and their supervisor and/or organization, and between the organizations and the AVC office. At the end of the year, volunteers have the option to extend for an additional year.
By July 2013, AVC will have an active alumni association through which these new development leaders can connect, share experiences and ideas, and work together to move Africa forward.
Caitlin Kelley and Jafari Msaki came up with the idea for AVC while Caitlin was volunteering in Tanzania. As an African history major, Caitlin noticed that for generations Westerners had been coming to Africa and trying to remake African societies in their own image, often ignoring the needs or desires of the local population, and therefore often hurting people in the name of helping. She chose to volunteer in Tanzania in order to study Swahili, and while working at a grassroots NGO she noticed that it took most of her fellow volunteers and her the majority of their stay in Tanzania to adjust to the enormous cultural differences, which severely hindered any real progress. During the same trip, Caitlin met many motivated locals who, with degrees in community development and social work and possessing cultural fluency, were more qualified to work for these same NGOs and yet were unable to find a job. Through a conversation with Jafari, she realized that a volunteer program for Africans to work in projects started by locals would fill that gap, helping local organizations do their work better by providing them a qualified local workforce while giving locals people the work experience they badly needed. So Caitlin and Jafari set about creating such a program.
In 2008 we began carefully assembling the advisory board and staff and designing the program. In 2011 we registered in Tanzania, secured a US 501c3 fiscal agent, and began accepting applications for our first class of volunteers.
Our first 7 volunteers worked in Moshi town. In 2013 we placed volunteers in rural areas of Kilimanjaro and in the city of Mwanza, as well as Moshi town, as the first steps towards expanding across Tanzania.
Feedback from and about the first cohort was very positive. Directors of placement organizations told us things like:
“Foreigners come here to help because they think we are poor. But when they come they will see that that is not the case.” (Old Moshi Secondary School)
“Next year, please send us another one just like him.” (Step Up Nursery School, of Martin Mwanyika)
“He is one of us.” (Salama Center, of Rasheed Makamba)
“Our neighbors cannot believe how much we have progressed in the past year. When they ask how we did it, we say, it was because of AVC.” (UWAWAYAKI, of Saad Urassa)
Placements reported feeling more organized and effective, like their work has been made much easier by having an additional person on whom they can depend as a regular staff member. They have been able to serve more people (for example, teaching more children) and create sustainable sources of funding.
Volunteers honed their vision for the future, gained confidence, and learned firsthand about the challenges faced by their community. Nuru Wilfred, who volunteered at Jipe Moyo, a support group for people with HIV, said she had never known people with HIV and after seeing the very difficult conditions in which they lived became determined to educate her fellow countrymen about the issue of HIV and help take away the stigma HIV-positive people face in Tanzania. Many people joined AVC because they have a project that they want to start or a specific population that they want to help but did not know where to start. Gema Shirima told us that after her first year with AVC, she is now confident she now has the skills to start her own center for orphans and street children.
Of the seven volunteers from the first year, four chose to extend for the optional additional year and three found jobs.
- Year established:2011
- Organization type:Grantseeker
- Country of registration:Other
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