EWB has volunteers who work with our community partners overseas, our Aboriginal community partners in Australia, in the EWB office and in EWb regions and chapters. With only staff, volunteers really are the heart and soul of what we do – they take on challenging roles and coordinate many of EWB&#;s programs.
We asked three of our amazing volunteers a few questions about their volunteering experience.
Returned Field Volunteer
Community Water Supply Coordinator with EWB partner Santulan, India
In / Madeleine completed a volunteer placement with EWB partner Santulan, an organisation that works in advocacy, education, health and basic human rights for the stone quarry worker community in Maharashtra, India. Madeleine&#;s role involved assessing the water and sanitation conditions and developing recommendations for improvement to meet basic human rights.
Why did you choose to volunteer with EWB?
Prior to India I was involved with EWB through Spokes in the Wheel, attending conferences and other local events. I always knew I wanted to volunteer with EWB because I think EWB has a kick arse philosophy to community development and I wanted to give my engineering skills a touch of soul. The people at EWB are full of beans and the positive energy is contagious, making you feel really inspired to make a difference no matter how small or large.
Any crazy things you have seen along the way?
Everyday in India was a little bit crazy and unpredictable and I experienced many mind boggling hazards on the quarry site. However, the strangest occasion involved the president of the local council, who I interviewed about water supply. He was a man with a lot of power and the right person to talk to for information. I thought he was a nice man especially because at the end of the meeting he honoured me by presenting me with a picture of the local temple.
How wrong was I! The following Monday, I found out that after our meeting, he was driving to lunch and exploded in fury when he spotted the boy who was dating his daughter against his will. He knocked him from his motorbike and pulled out a pistol and shot him. Fortunately, he did not kill him, but gave him a rather strong message not to date his daughter anymore. Consequently, he was put in jail and my boss laughed that now I could visit him anytime if I wanted to talk more about water supply.
What does the future hold for you and how has your journey overseas lead you here?
Since returning from India I have been volunteering in the EWB National Office a couple of days each week. I found being amongst the EWB community a fantastic way to reintegrate back into life as I’m surrounded by like-minded and inspiring people and continuing my EWB journey. I’ve taken a strong interest in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) Program and joined the ATSI Focus Group to enhance my understanding of the history and culture of Aborignal Australians. This has led me to consider opportunities working up North and I’m most excited about starting a new job at Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT) in Cairns in May (http://www.icat.org.au/). CAT has just become a partner of EWB and together they have previously worked on projects with the Lama Lama Land Trust and Bana Yarralji Bubu Aboriginal Corporation in the Cape York.
Fundraising, Marketing and Communications Office Volunteer
Annabel is one of our office volunteers, helping us with our marketing, fundraising and communications. She is currently studying a Masters of Communications and is due to finish her course in July.
What has been the best part of volunteering at EWB for you?
Seeing first-hand the passion of the people involved at EWB has shown me that work can be a fun, interactive and a passionate place. Working toward something you believe in has a much more profound impact than gaining experience in a larger, money focused corporation. I really enjoy working with everyone at EWB, they are always ready to take on anything but with character and fun.
What have you learnt from volunteering at EWB?
Where do I begin?! When I first started at EWB I didn’t have any experience working in communications and media. EWB has really allowed me to apply myself and be a part of a team that’s inclusive, committed and really innovative. Volunteering at EWB hasn&#;t been a &#;coffee-run&#; type of internship but has been such a huge learning experience. My role has involved everything from writing media releases, editing and helping with the newsletter to my biggest project which has been helping (re)kick start the Workplace Giving Program. Everyday I am learning something new, just the other day I had a complete lesson in Adwords – something I know I will be using in my future career for sure!
EWB will be hard to match and has definitely been the best start in my career. To be able to learn so much in such a great work environment and for such a great cause is all a student can ask for!
You said your role includes fundraising. What’s different about fundraising for EWB?
At EWB fundraising is about creating a dialogue with donors and fundraising can be a fun and interactive way to get to know our members. EWB really values our people and I think this shines through everything we do. This nurturing of our community is an intrinsic and extrinsic approach by EWB and I think once people see this, they understand why we do what we do and they want to help in whatever ways they can.
University of Western Australia Chapter President
What does your role as President involve?
My role is the UWA Chapter President, which basically means I source opportunities for people to get involved, I connect and bring people together and I capacity-build our stellar individuals and the chapter as a whole.
What are the best and worst parts of volunteering for EWB?
The reason this organisation is a perfect fit for me is that these things are exactly what brings meaning and joy to my life. Seeing volunteers take advantage of the opportunities, getting comfortable in a friendly community and achieve things that many students can only dream of, that&#;s what gets me up in the morning! The only bad thing about volunteering with EWB is that it&#;s so exciting and fulfilling that you want to give your life to it, but you can&#;t because it doesn&#;t pay you or give you a degree!
What part of EWB intrigues you the most?
The most intriguing part of EWB is the EWB Mojo. We&#;ve got something culturally that many organisations don&#;t have and I find it impossible to put my finger on it!
What does the future hold for you at EWB?
And my future within EWB? I&#;m interested in new challenges, new ideas, new ways of making a difference. I&#;ll do whatever accomplishes that.
Love EWB? Always wanted to get involved? We have some super volunteer positions available at our National Office in North Melbourne. See volunteer opportunities in the newsletter.