Discovery, a charity based at Swansea University, has been commended for its Wales-Africa partnership links by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action.
Over the last two years Discovery has developed the Swansea-Siavonga Partnership. The project is an excellent model of a geographical connection, allowing people in both Swansea and Siavonga to explore different lifestyles and approaches to shared but different experiences of family life, health, the environment, nutrition and poverty.
Eleven Swansea Universitystudents visited Siavonga last July to work alongside a team of volunteers from the Siavonga Nutrition Group. The students were involved in an intensive fundraising programme as well as giving presentations and undertaking relevant training. In Siavonga the students involved themselves in an intensive programme of activities, which included delivering workshops on health and agriculture for some of the village women as well educational games for the children at the orphanage.
Other activities included building a playground but the most impressive part of this project were the cultural exchanges that took place between the young volunteers from Swansea and the Siavonga Nutrition Group, working together, supporting and encouraging each other through the challenges & achievements of volunteering. Developing relationships and sharing daily living experiences has been an excellent example of global citizenship that will stand all the young people in good stead for the future.
The project had a profound effect on the students themselves – some making career and life choices relating to that experience, others noting a change in their attitudes to others and life in the UK. The students had a very high level of autonomy and through this they supported, encouraged and enabled the African volunteers to take control of their own volunteering role and to be their own decision makers. The Siavonga volunteers have now formed their own committee and are leading on their volunteering projects at the orphanage. They have all benefited from some long lasting friendships both amongst themselves as well as those inAfrica.
Discovery Volunteer Tom Lloyd said: " The visit to Siavonga will stay with me forever, the laughs, excitement, hard work and enthusiasm of both theSwanseaand Siavonga people was AMAZING – here’s to future visits"
The women and children in the villages were keen to share their skills and culture. The students facilitated workshops and discussion groups based on villagers’ requests as well as telling them about Swansea. Some of the village women decided to set up a netball team and challenge other villages using donated netballs and bibs, and the volunteers also worked to provide a football pitch for another village.
The project continues to establish links between Swanseaand Siavonga with a second group of students in Zambia at present.
Photo caption: Jane Davidson, Head of the INSPIRE Institute at Trinity St David’s University and Wyn Griffiths, Chairman of Wales Council for Voluntary Action, present the Discovery team Richard Lewis and Kirsty Rowles with their road sign, to celebrate and profile Swansea’s links with Africa.
- Thursday 26 July 2012 00.00 GMT
- Wednesday 25 July 2012 15.10 GMT
- Swansea University, Tel: 01792 295050