Young tourist woman swinging on the cliff in the jungle rainforest of a tropical Bali island, Indonesia.

Sustainable Travel on a Budget in Bali

When you participate in a Development Together placement we advise and assist you to get the appropriate visa. Often this visa will allow you some additional travel days either before or after the placement dates. Something you may be wondering about it is how you will spend your time overseas and what you can do on a budget to make the most of this opportunity.

On our Bali placement you will have the chance to enjoy affordable shopping, day trips and tours that can be experienced on a budget! Some of these activities include:

Visiting the markets: The markets in Bali are renown for their cheap prices. Most markets offer products of relatively good value at an affordable cost. This can include; shoes, clothes, artwork, leather goods, sunglasses and homewares etc. Markets can be found almost anywhere, just make sure your bartering skills are up to scratch in order to pay what you consider fair! When contemplating which markets to buy from, it is important to think about who you are actually purchasing from. We recommend making the conscious effort to buy from female vendors. This will allow Balinese women to support and be able to provide for their families.

Shopping for bargains at the markets

Boat Trip to Nusa Lembongan Island: Nusa Lembongan is a beautiful island surrounded by clear turquoise water and an impressive display of reef. Many activities can be undertaken on this island such as snorkelling, bike riding, eating with the locals and exploring some of Bali’s most picturesque beaches. *Prices for travelling return from Nusa Lembongan can be estimated at $50 AUD. Currently, Bali is trialling solar panelled boats to reduce the impact that fuel powered engines has on this pristine environment. Once these boats become available we would recommend you choose this option of eco-friendly transportation. If you’re planning on snorkelling at this picturesque island it would be advised to look into reef-friendly sunscreen. This is due to some sunscreens containing chemicals that are harmful to coral reefs, so choose “reef safe or “water safe” sunscreens with fewer or no chemical additives to protect the reefs.

Snorkelling at Nusa Lembongan

Guided Cycling Tour: Bike tours take place through the rice fields, temples and traditional villages in Ubud, Bali. Whilst enjoying the stunning scenery away from the touristy streets of Bali, you are given the opportunity to learn about the Balinese culture. Your guide leads the tour explaining every encounter along the way. Some companies offer a great range of deals and packages that can include meeting locals, seeing how rice farming is conducted and eating at a local restaurant. *The bike tours start from only $55 AUD. We highly encourage you to think about which company you chose to economically benefit the local communities that you ride through. Whilst on this tour we recommend taking plastic free water bottles and snacks such as fruit so you aren’t required to find a bin for any plastic wrappers. It is important to remain environmentally conscious wherever you are. (And don’t forget to wear your bike helmet!)

Cycling through the jungle

Spa Day: Maybe you’re someone who loves to relax and enjoy a spa day every once in a while? Spa Salons are located almost everywhere in Bali and can range in pricing. There are many massage salons on the side of the streets that are extremely cheap. Whilst they’re not your typical five-star salon, they are still very good and very affordable. *Prices can start from $5 AUD depending on how long and what you would like done. If massages aren’t for you, then treatments such as manicures, pedicures and hair treatments/styling are also offered. We recommend getting massages from ladies on the beach or small salons on the side of the streets rather than visiting bigger salons. It is important to support local businesses to encourage financial independence and security.

Enjoy a massage overlooking the ocean

Surfing Lessons: Whilst Bali is renown for their great surf breaks, the beach is also a great place for beginners. Even if you’ve never attempted to surf, the Balinese offer a great range of classes for people at all levels. They teach the key basics and focus on surf safety. It is most popular to hire boards along Kuta and Legian beach. *Prices can start from $10 AUD for only 1 hour! Make sure to rent a board from a reputable company that includes a life jacket. It would also be wise to consider what company you choose to hire from. We suggest hiring from locals that are set up on the beach as this supports local employment and creates jobs for the future.

Surfing lessons at the beach

Whatever you choose to do in your downtime in Bali, be sure to research, and consider the safety and health implications before undertaking any of these activities. Bali is an amazing place to experience a different culture, with hospitable and friendly locals. Being able to give back as you enjoy yourself makes a trip like this even more worthwhile and rewarding.

For more information about our Bali placements go to: https://developmenttogether.com/location/indonesia/

 

*Prices correct at time of publication but may vary depending on season and locations.

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8 Reasons To Volunteer in the Developing World

Today is the International Day of Charity! What better way to be charitable than volunteering in the developing world. Together we can make a difference in society by helping to eradicate different forms of poverty and partner together to build sustainable futures.

Making a decision to volunteer overseas can be difficult and daunting. We all lead such busy lives, and sometimes the thought of volunteering is not a priority. So we push those thoughts aside and focus only on what is directly in front of us.

However, if you take the time to stop and think about the benefits that you and the people you will be volunteering with will experience, you may find a reason to step outside of your comfort zone and become the deliverer of significant change!

Here are 8 reasons we think may convince you to get involved in volunteering:

1. Immerse yourself in another culture

Volunteering is a great opportunity to experience a different culture and walk of life. You can immerse yourself in the food, arts, history, and culture and have a truly authentic experience.

Learning about coffee production in Indonesia

2. Get to know the locals

Spending time with locals will help enrich your experience as you get their perspective and meet people from different backgrounds and walks of life. The hospitality and generosity of the local people will touch your heart and be an experience you will never forget. This will help broaden your understanding of their culture as well as other cultures.

3. Help a local community

The value you add to the community and the local people is so fulfilling. You can return home knowing that you have contributed towards significant change which may lead to enhanced health, economic, social and environmental outcomes. This experience is bound to change the community you volunteer with.

4. Enhance your technical skills and gain relevant work experience

You will gain practical work experience as you participate in a community development project under the supervision of a qualified professional who will guide and assist you. If you are studying at university you can also use most volunteer experiences to add to your work experience hours and put it on your resume! This experience may not only benefit your career prospects, but will provide you with skills and memories that last a lifetime.

Brick Laying- Cambodia Engineering Placement

5. Create amazing memories and friends

By travelling and sharing experiences with other people you are likely to form a bond with each other. Through this you make memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. The like-minded people you meet while travelling, and those who you work on projects with, you will likely build good relationships with. They may also provide good contacts in the workforce in the future.

6. Build your confidence

When you volunteer you will work on community development projects that will help you to gain skills and knowledge that will build your confidence in your field. Volunteering provides you with a platform to help practice and develop your skills, with the support from local partners.

7. Exposure to a wide variety of tasks

Most of our volunteers work on a project from start to finish, so you will be involved in the different stages and aspects of project management, and this will provide you with a wide range of knowledge and skills. This will come in handy not only in your everyday life, but also the workforce.

8. Practice teamwork

By working with partners and teams, you will learn how to be flexible, compromise and voice your opinions appropriately. This will help to strengthen your future team work and help you to communicate with colleagues better.

Indonesian Engineering Interns Jan 2019

These are only a few reasons why we would encourage you to volunteer on a community development placement. Our past volunteers tell us that the time they have spent volunteering overseas was an experience of a life-time, and the impact they have on local community outcomes is second to none. At Development Together, we are so grateful to be able to provide these services to encourage sustainable community development globally while enhancing our volunteers skills and knowledge.

Ukraine in Focus - Development Together

Ukraine in Focus

Ukraine is situated in Eastern Europe and is one of the largest countries in the area in terms of both population and size. The capital of Ukraine is Kyiv (commonly spelt Kiev). Ukrainian is the main language, with Russian also spoken by the majority of the population and mostly used as a ‘business language.’ Depending on where you are in the country, Hungarian, Romanian and Polish are also widely spoken. Whilst English is less commonly spoken, its prevalence is increasing, especially among younger generations. 75% of Ukrainians identify as religious with the majority being Orthodox Christian. In regard to climate, January is the coldest month, with temperatures generally below zero degrees Celsius. July is the warmest month, with temperatures ranging from low to high 20’s (Celsius).

Ukraine is the second poorest nation in Europe in terms of GDP per capita, meaning that living standards are much lower than surrounding countries. This has impacted on the Ukrainian currency (the Hryvnia) which is valued relatively low. This is beneficial for tourists visiting as it makes eating out and sight seeing cheap, but is a challenging reality for the locals. Ukraine has a rich cultural heritage, and is popular for its large collection of art and ornate architecture, and incredible architecture of its churches and public buildings. Ukrainians also have some interesting cultural traditions, such as Maslenitsa week – where people make and eat pancakes for an entire week, painting intricate designs on eggs at Easter and celebrating New Year twice (13 days apart). Ukrainian people are incredibly warm and love to laugh and welcome new visitors.

Kyiv in winter.

Ukraine has many popular tourist cities. Whilst many are relatively unknown in the West, Eastern Europeans have been enjoying Ukraine as an attraction dating back to Soviet times. Below are our picks for the top 3 places you should visit on your Ukrainian adventure.

1) Lviv

Located in the far west, Lviv is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It is Ukraine’s historical centre, and is located 70 kilometres from the Polish border. The city is intertwined with Polish, German, Austro-Hungarian and Soviet influences. World War II left the city largely unscathed, meaning that its plethora of historical buildings can still be admired today. Some major attractions include the Lviv Opera and Ballet, The Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Potocki Palace and the Market Square. No matter where you go, there is always something to see and do in Lviv!

Development Together volunteers on a guided city tour of Lviv.

2) Kyiv

The capital of Kyiv is the largest city in Ukraine, and is the most well-known. Kyiv is home to a number of historical monasteries, including St. Sophia and Percherska Lavra, both UNESCO World Heritage sites. There are many parks, bars and cafes dotted around the city. Kyiv is also said to have the best nightlife in the country! Furthermore, Kyiv is one of the cheapest cities in Europe, making it a fantastic choice for budget conscious travellers. Kyiv has played host to many world-renowned events in recent years, including the UEFA European Championship and UEFA Champions League finals in 2012 and 2018, as well as hosting the Eurovision Song Contest in 2005 and 2017.

 

Kyiv in winter.

3) Odessa

Odessa is a major Ukrainian port city located on the Black Sea. It is one of the warmest cities in Ukraine and is said to have the best beaches in Eastern Europe. However, Odessa isn’t just about the seaside! It was also one of the most important trading centres in the Russian Empire, and its old town is a fantastic sight for tourists. Odessa still has much of the charm of the major cities, having a strong arts culture and plenty of architectural marvels! Don’t forget to check out the Odessa Opera House, one of the largest in the world.

Odessa is famous for its beaches.

When people talk about Ukraine, many will automatically think of the current war against Russian-backed separatists. However, Ukraine is a very large country, and the central and western regions (where Development Together volunteers stay) remain safe areas with no conflict zones. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) has assigned Western Ukraine the same level of safety as countries such as France and Belgium, but does urge travellers not to visit the Eastern regions of Ukraine (especially Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk as these are active conflict zones).

The large cities such as Kyiv, Lviv, Odessa, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk in the Western regions of Ukraine are regarded as safe, and generally have low levels of crime. Visitors to the Western regions will be unlikely to come across any major problems. However as with all travel, visitors should consider their personal safety when out and about, and be vigilant and avoid any protests or demonstrations.

Development Together volunteers walking at night in central Lviv in the snow in January.

Development Together currently offers placements at the Dzherelo Rehabilitation Centre in Lviv. These placements are open to Education, Dietetics, Nutrition, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Pathology university/college students or professionals with experience in these fields. They range from 2 to 4 weeks and our small groups (of less than 12 people) are accompanied by a professional Australian Speech Pathologist to provide support and guidance.

Development Together Education/Teaching volunteer working with a child with a disability at Dzherelo Rehabilitation Centre.

Dzherelo is a Rehabilitation Centre committed to treating, rehabilitating, educating and counselling children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities and their families. Dzherelo was opened in 1993 and since then, they have become pioneers in this field in Ukraine where they now look after close to 200 children and adults as part of their daily programs, with an aim to extend its services to some 2,000 disabled children in the surrounding area. Ukraine has amongst the highest rates of disabled people in the world, yet only 4% of buildings are ‘disability-friendly.’ Furthermore, disabled people receive very little government funding. Development Together volunteers visit twice a year and are able to aid in assisting local staff to deliver their services by working directly with clients and their families, and also providing education sessions on current therapy practices outside of Ukraine with local staff to contribute to their professional development.

Development Together Speech Pathology student volunteer working with a child with disability at Dzherelo Rehabilitation Centre.

To find out more, visit https://developmenttogether.com/location/ukraine/.

When your help is no longer needed - Volunteering in the developing world

You Can Make a Difference

According to the World Health Organisation, each person needs 20-50 litres of water per day for their hygiene and hydration needs. Most of us make no more effort than walking to our tap in our kitchen, turning it on and filling up a glass of water. However according to UN Human Rights, women and girls in the developing world walk an average of 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) every day to collect water for their daily needs. Apart from taking on average 2-3 hours per day, it also has an enormous physical impact on them. Additionally, it creates many issues that you may not think about at first. For instance, women and girls often have to walk alone to get to a water source and this puts them at risk of sexual assault or robbery. It also means that for many girls, they are unable to attend school as collecting water takes priority for their them and their families.

Woman in Uganda collecting water for daily needs

You may sympathise with them, but think that there is not much that you can do. However, you can get involved by joining us here at Development Together as we partner with local communities in the developing world on sustainable community development projects. We specifically work with partners who aim to increase ease of access to water sources and develop clean water filtration systems that can easily be used in local homes and villages with the result being more girls can stay in school and risks to women and young girls are decreased.

For example, in December 2018 a team of Development Together Engineering interns designed and built an 18,000-litre underground water tank in Uganda to help improve access to water for a local farm. Our interns also assisted with constructing a new water well on the farm to provide easier and closer access to water for the local villagers. This farm is run as a Not-For-Profit entity, with all income being returned to local community development projects focused on Keeping Girls in School, encouraging micro-economic development projects for local women, providing education about sexual health, reproduction and family planning and encouraging good farming practices to enhance agricultural outcomes. These two projects significantly decreased the need for women and girls to walk long distances and spend time collecting  water, substantially lowering the risk of being alone, decreasing their heavy physical workload and giving girls back precious time to spend on their education.

New water well is used now to collect the water

In addition to the water projects our team of Engineering interns constructed a new piggery, refurbished an already existing chicken house and proposed a design of water filter that could be easily replicated by locals to assure they have access to clean drinking water. This was all done in an 8-week time frame.

The piggery built by Development Together volunteers in collaboration with locals
The completed underground water storage tank with easy access to the water via a Rus pump https://van.vliet.net/the-rus-pump/
Development Together volunteers working alongside locals

These projects were really quite simple, but will bring about significant environmental, economic and social change, not only in the lives of those working on the farm, but also for the locals in the nearby villages. We have supported small group Engineering, Environment, Urban Planning and Architecture internships running to Cambodia, Indonesia, Uganda and Vietnam this coming December 2020 and January and February 2020 for between 4 and 8 weeks. If you feel like you would want to be a part of such a life-changing project contact us today at www.developmenttogether.com/contact/

 

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/

Group Photo (Jan 2018)

When Help is No Longer Needed

We received a phone call recently from our Not For Profit partner in Hanoi, Vietnam. At first, I thought the news being delivered was not what I wanted to hear – and it certainly was not expected. The village Chief where we had been volunteering on a water project for the last two years told us, “We don’t need you to come back”.  We were in shock and at first we couldn’t understand why this would be the case. However, by the end of the conversation I was over the moon!

Development Together is a Perth based organisation that facilitates internship and work experience for university students and professionals to the developing world, where they work in partnership with local Not For Profit groups on community development projects. For the past two years we have been partnering with the Centre for Sustainable Development Studies in Hanoi, Vietnam to identify rural villages in need of assistance to develop access to clean water. We have sent small groups of Engineering and Environment students to a remote village in the Da Bac region, around 3.5 hours’ drive west of Hanoi. This mountainous region is very poor with a large number of people living in poverty.

 

Development Together volunteers with some members of our NFP group in Vietnam

In December 2017 we were invited to Xom Ke village which consists of 20 households. In 1994 these families had been relocated to the edge of the largest hydroelectric dam in Vietnam (and the 2nd largest in South East Asia). This enormous dam on the Da River produces more than 27% of Vietnam’s electricity requirements. More than 89 000 people were relocated, and 13 000 hectares of land was submerged to create this dam.

 

Volunteers Tour Mo Hem village to learn about the water issues they face, with the Da River and Dam in the background

Prior to the dam being built, the local people relied heavily on traditional agricultural practices and grew rice in abundance. However, since the valley floor was flooded to create the dam, they have had to become more creative in their approach and have had to move up the steep mountainous walls. Many locals now conduct small scale farming and clear large areas of jungle to grow vegetables to feed their own families or have chosen to raise cattle on the steep hill sides. The cattle roam freely directly impacting on soil erosion, stability and leading to large amounts of cow manure contaminating local water sources. The use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers to support growing crops for human consumption, and to feed the cattle, has also led to additional contamination of water sources, directly affecting the health of humans who consume this water.

Our first Needs Assessment was conducted collaboratively with the Chief Matriarch and her community members. One of the biggest problems they face is access to clean drinking water. There was only one small water storage tank that held 1.5kl of water, allowing only 8 household’s access to water. The remaining households collected water from the stream closer to the village, which carried more contaminants.

The source of the water was located 1.2km from the village, in a small river, where the water was deemed to be cleanest. There was no filtration system at the source or on the tank and no maintenance plan to keep it clean – upon inspection it was contaminated with debris, algae and potentially harmful microbe and bacteria. The existing water pipe that brought water from the source to the tank had been damaged extensively by cattle repeatedly treading on the pipe. All of the households in the village boiled their water as a treatment method to kill off any pathogens that may be present.

Volunteers trek through the jungle to inspect the source of the village’s drinking water

At a community meeting it was decided that we would work in partnership with the local community to build a new water tank that would provide clean water to all of the families, and that the tank would have a filtration system in place. Our volunteers spent time in community consultation identifying the problems and accommodating locals’ requests and recommendations.

Volunteers meet with the local community to discuss the proposed new water tank design

A final design was proposed and approved by the village Chief and community. Due to the low income in this village, we assisted with a financial donation towards the material costs of the project. Each family in the village agreed to provide one person per day to assist with the construction and labour required.

Volunteers work alongside local villagers on the new water tank

Over a 3-week period, we worked collaboratively with locals and the final product was a tank that allows all the village households to access this water and holds close to 6.6kl. We laid 1.2km of new pipe, raised so that cattle could not damage it. A simple filtration system was established at the water source and at the entry point to the tank. An education session regarding maintenance was conducted and villagers agreed to take responsibility to care for and maintain the tank.

We were again back to the village and returned in December 2018. Our Needs Assessment revealed that water from the tank still had some contaminants, mainly sand deposits, and potentially unseen bacteria and microbes. In consultation with the village we determined there was a need for water filtration systems in each of the 22 households. We designed and built a simple carbon/sand/pebble purification system to work alongside the existing water tank.

 

Volunteers working on new water filtration systems with local villagers

Over three weeks we constructed 15 new water filters with the villagers assisting. Unfortunately, we were unable to complete all 22 water filters due to time constraints. Once again, due to the low income in this village, we made a financial donation towards the project, and each supplied one person per day to assist with the construction and labour needs. Prior to our group leaving, we noted a few local families who had not received a water filter, had begun constructing their own water filter system using the design and principles that we had used.

Our next volunteer group was due to start in early July 2019. We began planning to return Xom Ke and finalise the outstanding water filters. However, when our partner group approached the village Chief, we received THAT phone call – the one where the village chief said, “We don’t need you to come back”.

Our hearts dropped. Not only because of the work that had gone into getting the group there, but also because we had spent so much time teaching them how to work in collaboration and partnership, to make sure we were meeting the village’s needs. When I heard those words, I was terrified we had done something wrong, or offended the village Chief in some way, and that was why she didn’t want us back.

Much to our delight this was not the case. As it transpired the local villagers had successfully completed the project themselves! They had self-funded and finished the remaining water filter systems using the designs we had left with them. Now all of the families had access to clean water.

This means that there is less chance of illness  and more likelihood of people being able to improve their economic outcomes as they are able to work each day and provide for their families. It also meant that the project we had been working on had proven sustainability, and would positively impact on the health, social and economic well being for this community.

At the request of another village Chief who had heard about our work in Xom Ke, our team was relocated. This week they have been conducting a Needs Assessment and identified that there are 29 households in this village also facing similar water access problems.

Volunteers conducting a site inspection at the new village of Mo Hem

We hope that our volunteers will be able to achieve similar results in this village over the month of July, and that ultimately, we are able to do ourselves out of a job again!

For more information about our programs please go to www.developmenttogether.com

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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:

 

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.

Girls_Cambbodia_school_toilet

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

Cambodia_Toilet_Engineering_Volunteer

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/