Tuesday 20 January 2015

Why it's important to pay volunteers

During my time living in South Africa, I was involved in volunteering and charity work. I didn't get paid for my time or my costs and neither did I ask or even expect to be reimbursed for my time and costs. You can read yesterdays rant here about fundraising and the need to get exposure on social media.

I visited hundreds of child care facilities, orphanages and school across Gauteng and what I discovered alarmed me.

This is a typical facility, they don't have tables or chairs and the blankets are placed on the mud floor.

For a child to be placed in day care in a township facility while the parents go to work for around R200 a day as maids and gardeners, the facility charge R250 a month per child. For this their priority is to feed every child, every day and to provide basic education. When you question the staff about any other funding they tell you there is none and that around only 30% of parents can afford to pay the monthly fees, so they rely on donations of food from people like me and many of my friends every month. They need people like me and my friends to tweet, blog, approach, ask, beg for food and donations for education, winter clothing and blankets. They then tell you that they are not paid either and most days they can feed the children just one basic meal. They often have 60+ children in a facility which is more often than not a shack, with no electricity or water.

Another issue other than the lack of finances is the lack of knowledge from the staff on how to teach and educate using the bare minimum of supplies. There are numerous facilities with donated toys, books and education supplies but no one uses them, they sit there like the play frame in the picture above, unused.

These are educational packs I designed and made and are used at several facilities, I did receive some sponsorship towards the actual cost of making the packs and I provided a week's worth of training and taught the teachers to cascade their learning to the other staff. It costs around R300 to make a pack, but if I was able to make more and get a sponsor the costs would be even lower. 

You can read more about the education packs here.

This short video shows you the pack in use

It costs a lot of time and money to train a good teacher, the staff have their matric and are desperate to go to University to do a degree in education, but no one will sponsor that and TBH if they did get sponsorship it is unlikely they would stay at that facility, working for next to nothing, when they could then get a proper job with medical cover and a living wage elsewhere. But they do need paying to teach, they need a reward, they need to have ownership. You can't feed 60 children a day without a cook, you can't provide the basic child care, let alone education without staff and most importantly you can't expect 1 person to volunteer and oversee several child care facilities, run HIV/AIDS projects, offer support to rape victims and look after vulnerable and orphaned children, full time without paying them their expenses.

Without these amazing people, nothing is possible

For more details on the work at The Viva Foundation and to make a donation visit here 

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