As we mentioned in the update this week, several volunteers who have been very
involved with BCC the past month or two have recently left. We really enjoyed working with all of these individuals, but since we are longer term volunteers, we are left with some interesting feelings. We have a few simple thoughts on short term volunteers through the eyes of long term volunteers.
Short term volunteers come with an energy that is nearly unprecedented in long term volunteers. We know for a fact that the BCC management feels that we too have this energy, but we think that is mostly due to American work ethic and fast paced way of life than anything. Short term volunteers want to come into an organization and make an impact in 30 – 60 days or less. That is a very difficult thing to do! They are very excited to be involved with an international organization. Their ability to come to volunteer in a place like Tanzania is often a result of many months of hard work and research. They often spend more time preparing for their trip than they do volunteering, and this only adds to their excitement and energy. We love the enthusiasm we see with the volunteers entering BCC!
Most volunteers want to work on a project or start something that will be sustainable. This is not an easy thing to accomplish. Most of the projects that we have been working to develop have taken several months of hard work to create. It takes knowing the program goals, having the correct contacts, and being able to work through the cultural formalities to create a sustainable project. Often we can talk individuals into working on a small piece of a major project, but the sustainability of this piece is contingent upon the larger project coming to fruition.
Volunteers can create a mess if everyone is working in many places and no one has any real direction or purpose in mind. They can also eliminate many of BCC’s program costs, such as paying for medical services or staff time completing general tasks. It is difficult to harness the energy of the shorter term volunteers in a way that is meaningful to them and in a way that benefits the organization. We feel that working to accomplish this is very important, and many of our recent volunteers have proven that this can be done. Also, the volunteers of today potentially become the donors of tomorrow.
These are just a few of our thoughts about short term volunteers. It is an interesting feeling to see so many people who have come and gone already in our trip. We have enjoyed working with the individuals who just left BCC, and we hope to see them again one day. Hopefully they will continue to stay in contact with BCC, return to Moshi, and tell the world about what they learned!