Female engineer volunteering

Volunteering and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

In 1992, the first United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), better known as the Earth Summit, was held in Rio de Janeiro. This is where Agenda 21 – The Action Plan for Sustainable Development was created. Sustainable Development aims at meeting the needs of this generation without harming the needs of future generations.

Globally, individuals, organizations, businesses and governments aim to achieve these goals. These goals are crucial to maintaining safe, healthy and quality conditions for our future generations. Reviewing these goals encourages us to monitor and stay on track regarding sustainability. These goals show us that the small changes we make in our everyday lives, like turning the tap off, and using public transport, can and does help better the world for our future generations.

Each of us can implement certain habits and practices in our daily life to assure we contribute to the achievement of these goals. We do not have to completely change our daily routine, but even a few small steps will make a great difference. For example – we can stop using plastic straws. To be perfectly honest we don’t really need them, and by discontinuing our use of straws we are contributing to Goal #14 – Life Below Water: Focus and determine sustainable solutions for our oceans, as we have helped to improve the conditions of our oceans and potentially we have prevented harming an animal that may have died because of that plastic straw. Yes, it is as simple as that. Imagine how much we could do if we all implemented a few small changes in our lives. Amazing isn’t it?

Here, we list all of the UN Sustainable Development Goals with our suggestions about what we can do to make the world a better place for ourselves and future generations. Goal 1 – No Poverty: Promoting sustainable jobs and equality through inclusion

What we can do: Purchase items created by sustainable and Fair Trade organisation, with a focus on gender equality

 

Goal 2 – Zero Hunger: Aimed at trying to eradicate hunger and poverty

What we can do: Try not to waste or throw away food and only purchase what you intend to use. Over 1/3 of the world’s food is wasted!

 

Goal 3 – Good Health and Well-Being: Healthy living and well-being for all

What we can do: Vaccinate your family to protect them and others in our communities and improve public health

 

Goal 4 – Quality Education: Gaining an education is crucial to improving people’s lives

What we can do: Volunteer in a school and help children in your community to read

 

Goal 5 – Gender Equality: It is a human right and important for sustainable development

What we can do: Speak out against inappropriate behaviour and support those who are marginalized

 

Goal 6 – Clean water and sanitation: Clean accessible water for all is essential

What we can do: Turn off your taps properly and take shorter showers

 

Goal 7 – Affordable and clean energy: Energy is crucial to all our development endeavors

What we can do: Only use energy efficient appliances and reduce your reliance on petrol/gasoline

 

Goal 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth: Sustainable economic growth will promote appropriate conditions for people to work in

What we can do: Support companies that promote equal opportunity employment and provide appropriate work conditions for their staff

 

Goal 9 – Industry, Innovation and infrastructure: Investments in infrastructure and innovation must work simultaneously to achieve this goal

What we can do: Come up with innovative ways to re-purpose material

 

Goal 10 – Reduced inequalities: Policies must be non-bias and take into consideration marginalized communities

What we can do: Speak out against inequalities and biases

 

Goal 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities: Create a future where everyone in the community is provided with basic needs and services

What we can do: Partner with a local not-for-profit to enhance people’s access to appropriate housing and food

 

Goal 12 – Responsible Production and Consumption: Promote resource and energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, basic services and decent jobs

What we can do: Encourage your local government to consider how they allocate resources in your local area

 

Goal 13 – Climate Action: Our climate has been heating up in the past decades, we need to come up with sustainable solutions to stop this

What we can do: Educate people on climate change and recycle paper, plastic, glass and aluminium

 

Goal 14 – Life Below Water: Focus and determine sustainable solutions for our oceans

What we can do: Avoid plastic bags and straws to keep the oceans safe and clean

 

Goal 15 – Life on Land: Manage and prevent threats to our land such as desertification and land degradation

What we can do: Plant a tree and help protect the environment

 

Goal 16 – Peace, Justice and strong Institutions: Access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels

What we can do: Use your right to elect the leaders in your county and local community

 

Goal 17–Partnerships for the Goals: Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

What we can do: Get the SD’s in Action app to learn about the Goals and ways to achieve them

 

Lastly, if you feel like you could do even more than that, this is what Development Together is here for. Volunteering is the next step you can take in order to help people all over the world to improve their lives. This will also have a positive impact on your own well being as volunteering has known psychological, physical and emotional benefits – see our previous post www.developmenttogether.com/benefits-of-volunteering-and-international-internships/

If you feel like you are ready to take the next step towards a better world contact us through our website www.developmenttogether.com

 

Read Further: The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals along with the description, advice and icons has been taken from the official UN website. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/

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Top 5 Packing Tips

Top 5 Packing Tips

What can be more exciting than going on a holiday? Being able to experience new destinations, cultures and cuisines, taking a well-earned break and being able to relax. However, one of the least exciting parts of any holiday is packing.

Most of us leave packing to the last minute, and more often than not, we accidentally leave out some key items, or our suitcase ends up weighing more than our luggage allowance, which can be extremely costly.

So, before you start packing for your next holiday, here are some important tips to consider, which will help you start your holiday on the right foot!

 

1. Wear your heaviest items to the Airport

Airlines weigh your suitcase – not you! Therefore it is a good idea to wear all your heaviest clothing on your flight in order to maximise your luggage allowance. It’s a smart idea to wear your jeans, jacket and heaviest shoes, and if you get too warm, just put the jacket in the overhead locker!

 

2. Invest in a light-weight suitcase

If you have an older suitcase, and often struggle to get below your luggage allowance, maybe your suitcase is the problem. Many newer suitcases are made of lightweight materials and can help you save on those precious kilos when you check your bags in. Plus it means that you’ll be able to pack a little bit more!

 

3. Don’t pack anything unnecessary!

Don’t bother to pack things such as shampoo and conditioner, as you can often just buy these once you’ve arrived, and they are often a lot cheaper than back home too! Plus, most hotels also offer an array of complimentary toiletries. Packing items such as towels and hairdryers should be avoided, as these are usually provided by your hotel. In addition, if you are traveling to a country with a different power frequency – your hairdryer won’t work anyway!

 

4. Don’t go overboard

People often go overboard when packing clothes, however you’ll probably only need half of what you’ve packed! Having one shirt for every two days is more than enough, and you can always “wash one” and then “wear one” to make your clothing stretch. It’s more likely than not that you’ll be buying some clothes once abroad anyway.

 

5. Roll, don’t fold!

By rolling your clothing, it not only saves space, but it avoids creases too! Tuck underwear into all the gaps, and put your socks into your shoes in order to create some extra space.

If you are keen to try your packing skills for a 2, 3, 4 or 8 week placement, go to www.developmenttogether.com for more information.

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Benefits of Volunteering and International Internships

Benefits of Volunteering and International Internships

Volunteering abroad has a strong positive impact on local communities. Every day thousands of people volunteer their time to help others and to make someone else’s life better. But did you know that helping others can have a positive effect on a volunteer’s life just as much?

If you have ever considered volunteering internationally, either as a professional sharing your skills and knowledge, or as a college or university student doing an internship as part of your studies, you probably already know some of the benefits it can bring you. These benefits differ from person to person but may include: earning credit towards your degree, getting a chance to meet new people, being able to travel to a new and exciting country, learning about new cultures and getting to eat wild and wonderful food!

Apart from these obvious advantages, there is one benefit that you may have not thought about. This benefit is the positive impact on a volunteer’s mental health and emotional well being. Numerous studies have proven that volunteering can improve your life from an emotional health perspective and add to an individual’s EQ. Dr Rachel Casiday reviewed 87 articles regarding the impact that volunteering can have on a person’s health and found that there is a direct positive correlation between volunteering and improves one’s life satisfaction, self-esteem, family functioning, self-efficiency ratings and decreases psychological stress.

At Development Together we totally agree with these findings. International internships and volunteering programs help you to become a part of a larger community, to feel connected and to have a sense of achievement and purpose. It also feels good to be able to share your skills and knowledge with others, as well as learn from your peers that share similar interests and passions with you.

This truly is a way to a new and better version of yourself. In fact, it has so many benefits, that one of the articles published on BMC Public Health even suggested that volunteering should be promoted as a part of a healthy lifestyle by public health, education and policy practitioners.

Volunteering is not just another way to have a great time, but contributes to you understanding more about yourself and developing real purpose and meaning for your life. It is an experience you will never forget.

 

In case you want to read the articles referenced, here they are for your convenience:

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Top 10 Travel Tips for South East Asia

10 Travel Tips for South East Asia

10 Travel Tips for South East Asia

When traveling to southeast Asia, there are a few tips that you should know, that will help you prepare and ensure a smoother journey:

1. Always have USD – If you ever run out of the local currency, USD is likely to be accepted. Most borders require that you pay for your entry visa in USD as well. Get some in your home country and bring it with you. Remember that some countries (like Cambodia) also dispense USD, as well as the local currency.

2. WiFi is almost everywhere – Free WiFi is honestly way easier to come by than expected, and for the most part it is decent. However, SIM cards are super cheap so you’re not breaking the bank buying them. And if you’re worried about getting lost, download Maps.me, an app that doesn’t need an internet connection to access mapping tools!

3. Don’t be afraid of street food – Asia is the home of the world’s tastiest cuisines, and the really good news is that the cheapest is often the best. There are so many markets and roadside hawker’s – unbeatable places to try the many local specialties. Night markets are great for tasting different dishes at extremely low prices – sizzling woks full of frying noodles, swirling clouds of spice-infused smoke and rows of glistening fried insects all make for an unforgettable gastronomic experience.

4. Agree on a taxi price before you get in – Never get into a tuk-tuk, taxi, motorbike, tricycle or songthaew without agreeing on a price (or starting the meter in the case of a taxi). When possible, ask a local first how much the fare should be, so you know if you’re being overcharged. If you don’t you’ll suddenly be expected to pay a ridiculous amount.

 

5. Have at least 6 months validity on your passport – Most countries require you to have at least 6 months left on your passport. Otherwise they can deny you entry. The same goes for having blank pages. Have a minimum of two blank pages when entering a country.

6. Always have toilet paper – Just when you really need it, there is never any around! So, stock up and carry toilet paper or tissue paper wherever you go. Besides being necessary in public bathrooms, it can also substitute for a napkin, something that is often not supplied in restaurants.

7. Watch out for snatchers – For ladies it’s recommended to carry a bag that you wear across your body. And don’t forget to hold onto your phones and cameras tight!  Snatchers are usually people on scooters who will grab your bag or whatever is in your hand quickly while you’re out walking, in a tuk-tuk or on a bike.

 

8. Bring sunscreen from home – It is ridiculously expensive in SE Asia. It’s one of the few things that’s worth using the extra space in your bag for.

 

9. Pack a scarf to easily cover up – This is essential when visiting temples. It’s too hot to always be covered, but you’ll need your shoulders, chest, and knees to be covered when visiting temples.

10. Pack appropriate clothes– Please respect the locals and don’t only pack skinny tanks, short shorts, and crop tops. It’s fine to wear shorts and tanks whilst at the pool or beach, but this is not your home, so dress according to their standards when visiting cultural sites, palaces, government buildings and places of worship.

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How Access to a Toilet Can Change a Person’s Life

How can access to a toilet change a person’s life?

Just imagine that you are 14, you recently began menstruating, and your body is beginning to change. How you, and others around you, deal with this can have a critical impact not only on your self-esteem but on your health, social and economic outcomes.

In the developing world, the topic of sanitation, menstruation and hygiene are often taboo subjects. It is kind of like “out of sight, out of mind”. Traditionally in many cultures these topics are never spoken about, or if they are, it must come from someone the same gender as you.

Now, come back to being that 14 year old girl, and now imagine you are standing in a line to use one of the two unisex toilets at your school for 2000 students. Imagine standing with boys either side of you, ridiculing and teasing you, because they know you are taking your school bag into the toilet to change your sanitary pad. Imagine them jostling, and perhaps even pushing you, to make you feel small and embarrassed.

Once you actually make it into the toilet, you have to rush, not only because there is a huge line of people still waiting to use the toilet in the brief morning break between classes, but because there is so little time now before your next class begins.

Now imagine it is your first time accessing a toilet since you travelled the 8km by bicycle to school today. So first you must relieve yourself of urine, (with a bladder at bursting point, that does not take long!), and then you have to find a clean space to change your sanitary pad in a toilet that few people care enough about to keep clean. After you finish you need to wash your hands, but often there is no water and almost always no soap, in these toilets. Then you must find a way to discreetly dispose of your used sanitary items, which usually means putting them into a plastic bag and placing them back into your school bag, to take home to burn on your refuse pile at your house. None of this sits well with your concern for the local environment that is already polluted by plastic waste and pollution from fires.

After you leave the toilet you are again laughed at, and have jokes and dirty words aimed at you, simply because you utilised the toilet space to attend to your personal hygiene needs. You rush back to your classroom, running late and missing the first few minutes of your Science lesson. Your face is flushed, and you are embarrassed by what this simple task has meant to you today.

The next day, your menstrual flow is very heavy. Too heavy for you to safely cycle to school and sit through all of your classes without an accident. And you know once you are at school there will be ridiculing, finger pointing and gossip about you, as they point out the staining on your underwear and school uniform. Today you choose to stay at home, and maybe tomorrow you will as well….. It is easier this way.

Image 1: Non-functional toilet block shared amongst 800 students at a local school, Cambodia

This story is not just a story. This story is reality for millions of children all over the world who do not have access to clean water or toilets at school. In the first Global Assessment of Water and Sanitation carried out by the World Health Organization and Unicef in 2018 it showed that 620 million children do not have decent toilets at school and around 900 million cannot wash their hands properly. It is estimated that almost 1 in 3 schools around the world have no clean water or toilets and less than 50% do not provide soap for children. Not having access to adequate toilets or sanitation stations is a huge obstacle for all children attending school because they have no place to appropriately go to the toilet.

For young women, this problem is exacerbated when they do not have a single sex toilet/bathroom facility as there is nowhere to change their sanitary items and wash their hands. Studies suggest that 1 in 3 young women miss at least 5 days of school per month (during their menstrual cycle) – this quickly adds up to more than 60 days per year – a full two months off school simply because they are menstruating! Making up that much lost time is almost impossible!

Additionally, when young women and girls stay at home, they are more likely to end up working in the fields, often having to undertake heavy, manual labour that is not good for their growing and developing bodies. It also puts them at increased risk of being trafficked, or subject to sexual abuse or assault, especially if they stay at home and are not adequately supervised by their parents, who are usually out working long hours to earn enough money to feed and clothe the family.

This issue not only has a negative impact on education completion rates, but also negatively impacts on a countries economic development. When less children graduate from school, this results in fewer people being educated sufficiently to undertake more technical employment that requires higher levels of education and can hold a country back from economic growth.

It also significantly impacts on women’s social and health outcomes with lower education levels associated with poorer overall health outcomes, an earlier marrying age, being a younger age when first baby being born, increased rates of obstetric fistula’s and uterine prolapse, being more reliant on their male partners to earn an income to support their families, having less independence and limited control over how family income is spent.

Research suggests that women with a lower level of education are also more likely to have more babies due to limited understanding about their reproductive cycles. This often leads to income stress when trying to feed, clothe and educate many children in the one family, and can lead to their children being inadvertently malnourished or neglected. These children are also less likely to complete school, and the cycle continues.

At Development Together we are making a concerted effort to identify and work with partner groups who see that accessing toilets is a problem for children in their community, and want to come up with a solution to change this.

Image 2: New school toilet in a female only toilet block, Cambodia

In Cambodia we have been partnering with Empowering Cambodia and over the last two years we have assisted in the building of toilets for a rural community, complete with solar lighting and leech drains, and alongside our partners contributed to education for local villagers about the importance of sanitation and hand hygiene and drinking from filtered water.

In Vietnam we have been partnering with the Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and over the last two years we have assisted in the building of a water storage tank, water piping, and 18 water filtration systems for individual households. Alongside our partners we have contributed to education for local villagers about the importance of sanitation and hand hygiene and drinking from filtered water.

In Indonesia we have been partnering with the Bali Appropriate Technology Institute and in the last year we have contributed to the construction of an underground water storage tank and gutters to the roof of the toilet building, that will be sued to supply the toilets and hand basins with water during the dry season. Our volunteers have also contributed to education for local school children about the importance of sanitation and hand hygiene and drinking from filtered water.

In Uganda we have been partnering with Seeds of Hope Integrated Ministries Uganda for the last year and have developed a business plan for the formation of a small Sanitary Napkin Sewing Business, to help supply reusable sanitary items to local young women for a reduced rate. We also contributed to the construction of an underground water storage tank and gutters to supply water to a small not for profit piggery.

DT-staff-cambodia-toiletImage 3: Development Together Volunteers constructing a private toilet for a local village, Cambodia

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Image 4: Development Together Volunteers constructing the foundation of a new toilet block, Cambodia

If this sounds like something you would like to get involved with then head to www.developmenttogther.com and check out our 4 or 8 week volunteer placements where you can #bethechange and #makeadifference

 

References:

https://www.wateraid.org/au/stories/a-third-of-schools-without-water-or-toilets

https://data.unicef.org/resources/wash-in-schools/

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/lack-toilets-water-school-puts-girls-education-risk/

Spirituality of the Angkor Wat Temples

The Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia is one of the world’s biggest religious monuments ever constructed. Throughout its walls lies decades of history and spiritual values. It is one unmissable destination when visiting Cambodia.

Located close to the modernised town of Siem Reap, Angkor Wat is a shrine for Hinduism and Buddhism. It is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, who is the “preserver” and “protector” in the Hindu triad. Even though the temple was dedicated to a Hindu god and most of its images are from Hindu scriptures, today the temple is considered a shrine for Theravada Buddhists.

The temple was built in in the 12th century by its Ruler Suryavarman II. As King of Cambodia, Suryavarman II believed in the idea that there was a connection between a King and a God. Vishnu was a popular choice for many kings during this time.

Visitors to Angkor Wat are amazed by the incredible attention to detail of the monument, with carvings of historical events embedded into the walls. The carvings display eight different Hindu stories.

Did you know that the structure of the Angkor Wat was specifically made to parallel the lengths of the four ages of classical Hindu thought? The construction of the temple has so much meaning. Its main entrance is in the West, representing a direction that is associated with Vishnu as well as death in Southeast Asia. This is notable as typically Cambodian temples will face East towards the rising sun. It suggests that Suryavarman II had intended for the temple to be his tomb.

The entrance has guardian lions marking its path. The lion represents royalty, strength and courage and suggest the ability to ward off evil. Middle Eastern tales show lions as representing great kings. Angkor Wat still plays a significant role in Cambodia, with its flag embellished with the silhouette of the temple.

Our volunteers always enjoy travelling to the Angkor Wot Temple and a full day guided tour is included in the placement fee, along with two nights in Siem Reap where you can visit the markets, go sightseeing and try new foods.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to travel to this historical landmark on our volunteer experiences to Cambodia as a Health (Physio, OT, P+O), Engineering, Environment or Urban Planning volunteer.

 

References:

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2019. “Suryanarman II: King of Khmer Empire.” Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Suryavarman-II

NCpedia. 2019. “Moat, guardian lion statue, and causeway into temple buildings at Angkor Wat.” https://www.ncpedia.org/media/moat-guardian-lion-statue-and

Jarus, Owen, 2018. “Angkor Wat: History of Ancient Temple.” Live Science. April 5, 2018. https://www.livescience.com/23841-angkor-wat.html

 

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3 Ways to Make Your Travel Memories Last a Lifetime

3 Ways to Make Your Travel Memories Last a Lifetime

When you travel with Development Together, you will make memories that you want to remember forever. And you can! Here are three creative ways to make sure that you will have these experiences stored away for not only yourself, but also to show your family and friends.

 

1. Journal

Journaling throughout your trip is not only good to be able to remember your trip but is also a fun way to reflect on your days and fully take in and experience each and every moment on the trip. You can journal in many different ways and really let your inner creativity flow as you write down and sketch out your experiences. It is also a cheap way of creating memories as all you need is a Note Book and a Pen.

 

2. Create a photo wall

Creating a photo wall is a great way to showcase your experiences to your friends and family and can be a great way to reminisce on your memories. There are endless possibilities when it comes to your photo wall depending on how much time you want to spend and how creative you are feeling. Photo walls can vary in price depending on what elements you would like included and how many photos you would like to showcase. Photo walls are easier than ever nowadays as most phone cameras have good enough quality to capture what you will need. However, if you do have a more professional quality camera, we would recommend that you bring it along with you on your trip.

 

3. Create a short film

This one requires a little more time and expertise. However, creating a short film from your trip is an awesome and entertaining way to show your experience to all your friends as you can upload it to social media for them to see. There are many different types of short films that you can create from a Vlog to a Highlight Reel depending on how comfortable you feel. We highly recommend using an action camera such as a GoPro to record your film with as they are compact, durable and inexpensive (depending on which model you choose).[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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To Give or Not to Give? – That is the question!

When is it ok to give to beggars?

Begging is something that we are often confronted with when traveling through the developing world. Begging can take many guises. It may be someone badgering you at a famous landmark where you are sight-seeing asking for money, or it might come from someone sitting “panhandling” on a street corner. Sometimes you may be approached by a group of dishevelled, and shoeless, children selling trinkets, books or friendship bracelets. Or perhaps may even be asked to buy a tin of baby milk formula by a mum clutching a distressed, or very sleepy, malnourished looking baby. Finally, it could be from a disabled person in a wheelchair, or with a significant injury that can be quite difficult to look at.

All of these scenarios have been taken from real life situations that we have actually experienced whilst travelling around the developing world. Each time we encountered one of these situations our emotions ran high and we felt conflicted and wondered what the right thing to do is.

Because really, what could possibly be wrong about giving someone a few dollars? After all, we all usually have a few spare coins, or a couple of dollars to spare right? And as travellers we have already managed to fly half way around the world to get to their country, spend money seeing the sights, drink their beer and eat their food. So why all the fuss?

Having given this problem a lot of thought, reading the latest research, and talking to people on the ground in the developing world, we have come up with 5 reasons why in the long run it may be kinder not to give to beggars:

  1. The person begging on the street may not actually be homeless or destitute – they just have to look like they are. Research indicates that on occasion beggars may alter their appearance so they look like they are worse off than what they are. Why would anyone do this? Well, because begging will earn them an income that is more than what they would earn working in an unskilled labouring job. We know that migration of rural populations to cities is on the rise in the developing world, as people leave their rural towns seeking a better future for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, when they arrive in the city, employment is often hard to find especially for unskilled migrants, and they may have to resort to begging to supplement their income. The poorer, or more disheveled they appear may actually improve their chances of receiving more money when begging. Horrifically, there are many cases where people are deliberately disfigured to improve their chances of bringing in more money from begging.
  2. Begging is often conducted by individuals, or groups, who are organised by gangs or a “boss” who watch when people give to them. The “boss” then swiftly moves in and takes their cut of the money that the beggar has just received. Word on the street is that the beggar might receive 10% or less of what they are given by generous people, and their “boss” takes the rest. If they refuse to hand over the money, or they protest, they may be threatened, beaten or worse, until they comply.
  3. Begging creates a hand-out attitude and can create more beggars. When beggars receive money from tourists it encourages them to continue begging. By giving to beggars we contribute to holding them in this cycle and they become reliant on aid, rather than development with expectations that when they ask, people will give. This is often seen as an easier option than seeking a way out of begging. 
  4. Research indicates that begging can lead young people into prostitution, trafficking and slavery. Children who beg as youngsters have very limited access to education and are unlikely to be educated beyond a grade 1-2 level (if at all). Having limited education and being caught up in a begging cycle severely impacts on their ability to gain reasonable employment as they get older and keeps them in a cycle of reliance on others. Often that reliance leads them to jobs in areas such as prostitution, sexual slavery, human trafficking, drug trafficking etc. Once they outgrow their cute primary school aged appearance, they no longer have the same ability to “bring in the dollars” but they still need an income. At this point their “boss” will probably know someone who can get them a “job”. It’s just that it won’t be the kind of job you or I would want for our child – or any child for that matter.
  5. Drug and alcohol use is on the rise amongst beggars. Sometimes, people legitimately have a drug problem, and this is why they beg. Sometimes people develop a drug problem to cope with the fact that they have to beg and the associated negative experiences they may have had whilst begging. Glue sniffing, smoking marijuana and alcohol use are common drugs used by even very young people begging on the streets. Unfortunately when we give to beggars sometimes this money is not used for the basics of survival like food, water and shelter, but is used to by drugs, and results in exacerbating their problems.

So, now that we understand some of the problems that are created by giving to beggars, what is the best solution?

We suggest that you identify an organisation that is working with the homeless or people living and begging on the streets and making a donation to them. By giving to a legitimate organisation you can be reassured that the money that you would have given to the person begging, will be used in a way to provide support and opportunities to change the situation the beggar is currently in.

Organisations that provide options for beggars to access food and housing, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, education or skill development often have the best chances of making a real impact on people in need. Check out local not-for-profits in the area where you are traveling and read reviews from other people before making a decision to give. Try to identify a reputable organisation that has a history of working with people in these situations.

If you feel really compelled to give to the person in front of you, offering to buy them a meal, or a cup of coffee can be a nice way to provide them with food, and may also be a positive way to start a conversation. Sometimes, having a chat with the person will provide them with a reminder that they are valued and seen in a world that is all too often filled with chaos and mayhem.

 

Top 5 Destinations Vietnam

Top 5 Travel Destinations – Vietnam

Top 5 Travel Destinations – Vietnam:

One of the many benefits of doing work with Development Together is that you can travel before and after your volunteer experience. Vietnam is one of four placements offered to Engineering, Environment & Urban Planning students and professionals and offers some of the most stunning and unique pre/post travel experiences. In this article we will go over the 5 best places to travel within Vietnam in the hopes that you, like so many others before you, will get to explore these places for yourself.

 

5. Sapa

Located in northwest Vietnam, Sapa is a small town surrounded by a mountainous landscape and littered with rice terraces and beautiful waterfalls. The best way to fully experience all Sapa has to offer is by taking part in organised tours which present the landscape in a way that not many people get to see.

 

4. My Son

Located on the central coast of Vietnam, My Son is an archaeological site and holds some of Asia’s most important and notable structures’. My Son is especially significant in the Hindu religion as it is where many ceremonies were held to worship the God, Shiva.

 

3. Hoi An

Located in Central Vietnam, Hoi An is one of the oldest cities within the country being built over 2,000 years ago. With amazing architecture and a rich history and culture, Hoi An is a popular destination with many shops, perfect for bartering and a chance to engage with the locals.

 

2. Ho Chi Minh City

Located in southern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City (previously known as Saigon) served as the capital of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War and therefore has a very interesting history. It is one of the busier and more built up areas of Vietnam and therefore has great shopping, restaurants and nightlife.

 

1. Ha Long Bay

Located in northern Vietnam, with amazing water, beautiful rocky landscapes and over 2,000 different islands to explore. Ha Long Bay is a must see destination for any traveler looking to experience the more adventurous side of the country.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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A Life with Meaning – Sopheap’s Story

Sopheap is a Prosthetic and Orthotics’ technician who works at a large rehabilitation centre near Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

We first met Sopheap about 8 years ago, and she instantly made an impact on us, because despite her limited English language skills, and our even more limited Khmer (Cambodian) skills, we were somehow able to communicate and laugh together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sopheap is a 45-year-old lady, married with 3 children. She was just a small toddler when the Khmer Rouge emptied the city of Phnom Penh and took over the country in 1975. She survived 4 years of Khmer Rouge atrocities as a small child, and the following civil war and conflict which lasted until 1989.

In 1991, a peace treaty was signed to end the conflict. It was this same year, when she was just 17 years of age, that Sopheap stood on an un-exploded land mine left over from the long running conflict. This accident resulted in her receiving catastrophic injuries to her lower leg and she ended up requiring a below the knee amputation to survive this injury.

Because most people in the medical field had been killed under the Khmer Rouge regime, there were limited qualified staff available to work in the area of Prosthetics and Orthotics. There were incredibly high rates of land mine injuries occurring every day, with farmers working in rice fields, or children playing in the dirt who would pick up or stand on these old land mines. Cambodia soon became the leading country for land mine injuries.


In 1992, about a year after her initial injury, Sopheap received her first prosthetic limb from the Cambodia Trust. It was durin g her rehabilitative period that she developed an interest in Prosthetics and Orthotics, and she was quickly employed, and has remained working in this field, for the last 26 years.

She was never able to formally study Prosthetics and Orthotics and has had to learn most of her skills on the job. Her speciality is making pelite covers for prosthetics legs, moulding polypropylene to fit negative moulds, and she is incredibly skilled at making the most amazing prosthetic hands, which look incredibly realistic, complete with fingernails and wrinkles in the skin.

Our Prosthetic and Orthotic volunteers from Development Together have enjoyed their time working alongside Sopheap. She is always willing to teach, and she loves sharing her knowledge and skills. Thankfully she also has the confidence to quickly jump in and remind our student volunteers how to safely use their knife and cut away from themselves!

Thank you Sopheap for everything you do for people living with disability, and for your openness and willingness to embrace our volunteers and guide them when they are placed at your centre.