Maintaining positive impacts worldwide is one of the greatest challenges for volunteer organisations across the world. It is, therefore, a topic that is frequently reviewed by our teams at PMGY. This is to ensure that we continue to meet the targets we have worked so hard to establish.
At PMGY, we place thousands of volunteers in our volunteer projects worldwide each year. With a regular flow of participants, we are able to provide constant and continued support to our local communities worldwide. Naturally, international volunteer numbers fluctuate across the seasons. Whilst this could create a barrier in ensuring sustained commitment to our programs, we work hard to ensure it does not. We manage the number of international volunteers each program receives, helping to keep it consistent. This means capping volunteer numbers when a project reaches full capacity. Alternatively, expanding our support in the local communities when required. No matter the time of year, we work hard to ensure our commitment to our programs and local communities is maintained.
In addition to leaving a lasting legacy, we work hard to ensure our efforts remain positive through all means:
Our programs are self-funded by the volunteers’ Program Fees. Such funds financially support the volunteer projects in our network. Neither the communities we support nor the projects, bear any financial burden by receiving volunteer support.
Below, we use our program in India as an example:
Alice in Wonderland Children’s Home (AIW) – This home was initially set up to provide care for eight children in Faridabad. The volunteer Program Fees paid have funded the employment of local staff to provide the appropriate care for the children. Additionally, these funds have allowed the children to receive support for their needs. This includes aspects such as their education, clothing and social life. To this day, the home continues to run and support children within the local community. Our volunteers also work to support the home, playing an important role in looking after the children in their free time. This ranges from helping the children with their homework, to playing games and arranging activities.
Medical Outreach Camps – Our local team also supports medical camps within slum communities. Across these neighbourhoods, there is a prominent lack of health education and access to medical support. Our team has therefore introduced medical camps. They provide primary healthcare and medical check-ups to the residents of these disadvantaged communities. The medical camps are run and financed by the volunteer Program Fees, ensuring the availability of free health-care. Through this support, our team has established a permanent clinic in the heart of the largest slum within Faridabad. In addition to this, our team is able to run pop-up camps across further neighbourhoods, to extend this outreach.
In each destination worldwide, our direct-workforce is made up of between 5-10 people. Our local team members are individuals diverse in gender, ethnicity and age. Not only do our international volunteers provide direct positive economic impacts for the programs, but indirect too. The presence of volunteers offers a welcome source of income and employment within the further community.
Most of our locations are established in small localised communities. As a result, they do not benefit from traditional tourism. Therefore, our programs and volunteers help contribute towards the even distribution of income and economic growth in the region.
Climate change is an ongoing global issue. It is associated with rising temperatures globally and consequential environmental impacts. At PMGY, we recognise that there are a number of ways in which any organisation can reduce their environmental impact.
Across the globe, we support several environmental and wildlife conservation programs:
Example – Sea Turtle Conservation, Sri Lanka – Human activity has endangered many turtle species across the globe. From habitat destruction to poaching, the course of survival for these aquatic creatures is becoming increasingly difficult.
In 2013, we initiated our very first conservation program, establishing our Sea Turtle Sanctuary in Ambalangoda, Sri Lanka. The prime aim of the sanctuary was to protect and rehabilitate sea turtles. The fishing industry plays a large role in the Sri Lankan economy, particularly in Ambalangoda. Unfortunately, this brings with it adverse risks to turtle populations, through the indirect creation of numerous obstacles and dangers. Quite often, such dangers bring with them injurious, or even fatal consequences. In addition, turtle egg poaching across many countries remains prominent, often serving medicinal purposes. These aforementioned risks were noticed by our team, thus initiating their conquest towards turtle conservation in Ambalangoda.
This wildlife volunteering abroad project provides a network for turtles negatively affected by human conflict. The volunteer program also strives to provide educational outreach sessions, aiming to try and increase awareness on the issue. Ultimately, the long term goal of the project is to release healthy turtles back to the wild. Additionally, the volunteer program works to protect turtle eggs from the path of local poachers.
Working to be Environmentally Friendly with PMGY – At PMGY, we recognise that international travel brings with it challenges to the environment. With this in mind, we have introduced the opportunity for our volunteers to make a positive carbon impact when travelling abroad. This has been achieved through our Triple Carbon Offset Scheme, allowing participants to eliminate their carbon footprint. Below is an example of how the Triple Offset Idea for volunteers in Sri Lanka works:
Kenya – 51 mango trees are planted in Kenya. These are capable of absorbing the total carbon emissions for a volunteer trip to Sri Lanka. Additionally, they help provide a sustainable income for local farmers.
India – 80 days of access to a solar cooker are provided to a family in India. This means the family don’t have to spend on firewood and thus reduce their dependence on trees.
USA – 1.25kg of rescued meals are provided to the homeless in the USA. The recycling of this wasted food reduces methane emission from food waste, which is equivalent to 1lb of CO2 emissions.
Participants with PMGY are offered the chance to add-on the scheme during their online application. Alternatively, they are able to contact us to add this on at a later date. The offset platform is provided by our charity, the PMGY Foundation . This ensures that 100% of contributions are put towards these high impact projects around the world.
Promoting Positive Environmental Impacts – We also work hard to try to encourage our participants to maintain a positive and proactive attitude towards supporting the environment. This includes encouraging environmentally friendly mindsets. For example, the use of reusable water bottles and avoidance of single-use plastics.
When it comes down to the social impacts of our programs, we work on two fundamental principles. Firstly, our volunteers are there to serve and not be served. Secondly, each destination comes with its own socio-cultural value system. With these factors in mind, we are unable to apply a one-size-fits-all model. Instead, we must continue to evolve our approach to meet the changing needs of the projects.
We work hard to prepare our volunteers in advance of their project start date. This aims to enable them to effectively integrate into their host location on arrival. The core principles of this are learnt through our careful research, community engagement and the understanding of the local set up. Frequent engagement between our international and ground staff allows us to understand the ever-growing needs of the community.
During the initial orientation period in the country, we inform our volunteers about the local culture, cultural differences and language. We also implement a strict dress code for our international volunteers. In turn, this helps to further ensure that our participants minimise the potential negative impacts of volunteering within the community.
It is vital that our volunteers bring with them a range of skills to the projects they work with. With this, there is equal importance to ensure that we transfer this knowledge to those within the local community. For this reason, our volunteers’ impact extends beyond the actual time they spend volunteering.
PMGY’s education programs do not simply lie within the regular classroom. Rather, a volunteer teaching English abroad is also encouraged to spend time improving the English skills of local teachers. Additionally, they are able to introduce new teaching techniques. Through these indirect methods, we are improving the quality of education that the children receive long-term.
Example – After-School Community Education, Bali – In 2011, our local team established the Akasa Foundation, setting up a Community Learning Centre. The goal of our team was to provide after-school community English classes to children within the local community. One of the main goals of the centre is to provide basic education to preschoolers from low-income backgrounds. Another is to offer additional education for students already attending school.
Example – After-School Community Education, Sri Lanka – We have also established an after school program for children whose families were displaced by the 2004 Tsunami. This community development program was introduced in 2013, providing free after-school English lessons to local villages. This was set-up with an aim to further English language development, thus heightening future prospects for the students. Classes are structured around the national curriculum and we hire local teachers to work alongside our volunteers.