Friday, 20 September 2013

End of Placement

On July 2nd 2013, the induction week started and was the official sign of our placement in the international volunteering programme of IS Burkina, for both national and international volunteers. For me personally, I was a new addition to the group of national volunteers.

This induction week was very important as it broke the ice between the national and international volunteers, putting everyone’s apprehensions to one side. During this intense briefing week, high on emotions and where familiarity began to show itself within the volunteers’ group, the planned placement duration of 3 months seemed long and only the best was predicted for the days to come.

The end of this week, marked by each team being placed within different partner organisations, was the real beginning of the IS volunteer experience.

As for my personal placement, it was to be at Handicap Solidaire Burkina (HSB), where we were made up of a team of 6 ICS volunteers, not counting all the staff and members of our welcoming partner organisation.

Our work can be summarised as organisational capacity-building, advocacy for the social insertion of people with disabilities, defending disability rights, researching funds and partnerships to support the organisation’s activities (such as the Espace Bambino, which works with children with disabilities), and promoting HSB’s sport programme for people with disabilities in Burkina Faso.

To achieve this, we visited local and international NGOs, wrote to many organisations requesting support, and used HSB’s Facebook page to raise awareness of HSB’s work with children with disabilities, as part of our work on a new child sponsorship programme. We even held a launch ceremony for this new sponsorship programme.

Whilst promoting HSB’s activities, we received many words of support and encouragement, as well as requests from people who wanted to voluntarily assist with our activities.

Without even realising the days passing, I find myself today writing this final blog entry with the current team, as we are at the end of the placement for the international volunteers, who must return home in a couple of days. Personally, I foresee the continuation of my volunteering experience, if IS gives me the occasion to do so. 

And so, on this day (September 16th), we had our final meeting between the volunteers, the IS Programme Manager and the partner organisation staff. As a sign of the continuation of the IS volunteer programme, Souad, the future HSB team leader, was also present, and ready to welcome the next wave of volunteers, already prepared and arriving very soon.

- Alexis

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