Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dreadlock Shearin!

Here's a hoot of a fundraiser to get behind! Steve Mckay completed GVN's most recent fundraising trek - Machu Picchu.

After climbing Machu Picchu to raise money for the Peruvian Children's Fund and spending time at a local community center and orphanage, Steve has decided to take things one step further...

He will be sacrificing his amazing dreadlocks (which after 15 years he's become quite attached to!) with just one goal in mind - to raise money to support Peruvian children.

"I guess how this came about is from a cafe conversation with two work colleagues. I was doing my usual rant of being deplored by western excesses and feeling I wasn't doing enough to correct the imbalances etc etc, when I hit upon the notion of sacrificing something. With Peru becoming a memory and Nepal months away I needed to do something else. One of the girls offered to donate cash if I lopped off the dreads. At first it seemed like a big sacrifice for a few bucks but as the idea festered the notion grew and while the donations are yet to commence, many have pledged support. I guess it comes down to doing what you can and if lopping off some filthy dreads will get the kiddies cash, then hey why not." says Steve.

Steve has even accepted suggestions for his new hairstyle, he has tentatively agreed to a pink mohawk. Sounds perfect!

Now we're not asking you to shave your heads here - but we are asking that you support Peruvian children through Steve's brilliant act of kindness:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Settling in: a Ghana volunteer placement

In today's blog post we'll be hearing from Nathan Bowles and Sophie Chambers, one adventurous couple who volunteered together during July 2009 in our Ghana Community program. Nathan and Sophie worked in a sheltered housing scheme, which houses mainly elderly and a few younger disabled residents.

Nathan comments that "the most important thing for me is that the whole trip has been life changing. To see how another culture lives, and one that hasn’t got the money that we have is what I set out to do - and definitely did! The overall experience has been amazing and one that is going to be very difficult to beat."

When we asked Nathan to tell us about his arrival experience in Ghana this is what he had to say.

"It’s hard to know where to start! The month I’ve had in Ghana has been the best experience of my life. Nothing could have prepared me for this trip and it is safe to say that I was not expecting what happened over the following four weeks. Here is a brief outline of some of the events that happened and my new surroundings:

We arrived safely in Accra on July 1st, although our flight was delayed. We spent the first night in a Guest House there as the journey would be too long to our village near Ho. People gathered round us as we came out from the airport - the air smelt different - hundreds of people everywhere - us, the only whites!! It was a huge culture shock. And we were exhausted.

We spent a long day travelling to meet our “host”, Bismark...Travelling through Ghana on this day was a huge “eye-opener” as we saw many of the local villages. Literally like something you would see on TV - mud huts, open fires, dusty roads etc.
We had to travel to Ho (large-ish town) to get to our village which is located on the side of Adaklu Mountain. To get to the mountain, you first have to drive across 7 miles of mud and then walk up the mountain for 20 mins to reach our village.

Our village is lovely - everyone is so welcoming. The kids wave and shout “YEVOO” (white person) - they are so excited to see us. However, we have made a baby cry - he had never seen a yevoo before, and was afraid! He is still not used to us! We gave a few kids bouncy balls and within about 10 minutes we had all the village kids round us wanting to play (probably about 30-40 kids!) They are also very keen on pens and paper.

Our room is lovely - sealed so no bugs can get in (although Sophie thought there was a lizard in there the other night)! However, there is no electricity in the village at all and as it gets dark by 6pm, we are in bed asleep by 7pm latest!!

Our shower is a bucket, which is actually really amazing at 5:30am after a night of sweating (no electricity = no fan!) Some men in the village made a toilet for us - this is literally a hut with a hole. However, when we woke up the other day, they had made a proper seat for us!! This is a big thing seeing as the rest of the village (of about 400 people) share 3 toilets. We are treated so well here. Florence (Bismark’s wife) is our caretaker - she makes all our food and does our washing. The food has been really good so far - lots of rice, pasta, plantains, yams, popcorn and eggs. We have not been ill…yet!"

Nathan and Sophie, thanks for sharing with us your initial impressions of a volunteer's arrival in Ghana.

For anyone interested in finding out more about this program please visit our website:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ripples of Difference

International Volunteer Day on December 5th is the United Nations official day on which volunteers around the world are recognized and celebrated for their contributions and dedication.

On 4 December 2009, the Ripples of Difference e-book is my gift to you to celebrate the thousands of volunteers who have given their love, energy, and time to help communities in need around the world.

The Ripples of Difference book is a collection of unique and powerful stories written by volunteers from around the world. From refugee camps in Africa to orphanages in Asia, read about how volunteers are touching the lives of others and making a difference – a ripple of difference.

The Ripples of Difference theme dates back to when I visited a small village in Papua New Guinea. I tossed a stone into a lake and watched the ripples of water get wider and wider and larger and larger. I realised that by myself I could do very little to bring about long term change, but that a multitude of like minded individuals could literally create enough momentum to significantly change the world in which we live.

The book is not just a collection of stories; it is a call to action.
Mahatma Gandhi said “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. So I challenge all of you to stand up and create your own ripple and join the sea of change that brings hope to those in need around the world.

Please sign up now to receive your free copy on December 4:

Colin Salisbury

GVN Founder and President

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kenya ‘Mail Sale’ - To Pay for the Postage

At GVN we encourage our volunteers to get involved in fundraising amongst their family, friends and local communities. Whether for covering their program fees, their travel expenses or for donations to support our in country projects - fundraising is a great way to gain support for a cause.

Jamie Mullins will be volunteering in the Kenya Children’s Program in December 2009, and she came up with an extremely creative and highly successful fundraising gimmick to enable her to take over much needed supplies for the children.

“The idea started for the Kenya ‘Mail Sale’ after I had completed the Fundraising Induction Day. I sent out a flyer asking for any donations of children’s clothing, toys and games...which was a great success, and I soon realised I wouldn’t be fitting it all in my luggage. So the Kenya ‘Mail Sale’ idea was born to ensure that all the donated gifts got to Kenya.”

Jamie hosted a Bachelor and Bachelorette auction, with participants of all ages and professions including Tradies, Engineers, Lawyers and IT specialists. On the night all bachelors and bachelorettes were auctioned off to the highest bidder, and the prize for the winning bidder was to be taken out to dinner by the Bachelor/Bachelorette. What a fantastic idea!

“I roped in my good male friends and even one or two actually volunteered. The night was an absolute success raising just short of $6000.

I can’t say I am sure what I want to achieve in Kenya...but if I can help a few kids smile and enjoy themselves I think that will be a wonderful reward.”

Some of Jamie’s goals for volunteering in Kenya are to offer underprivileged children a brighter future. We hope to provide children with the basic necessities of life - love, food, clothing and shelter - and also provide them with an education, so they can advance towards the same opportunities as their peers around the world.

During her placement, Jamie will be caring for orphans, street children and abused children at an orphanage. She will take on the role of sibling to the children, and when she leaves Australia in December to take part in her placement, she’ll be taking as many children's supplies, school supplies, soccer balls, soccer pumps, cassette players (with batteries), and games as she can.

Well done Jamie, we can’t wait to hear about your experience volunteering in Kenya!

If you’d like more information on our Kenya volunteer programs please visit our website:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Kick off 2010 with an Adventure!

I recently launched an emergency appeal to assist communities in need that were devastated by catastrophic typhoons and earthquakes. Thank you so much for answering the call, your response has been overwhelmingly kind.

Today I feel compelled to make another appeal but of a different nature – I wish to appeal to your spirit of courage and adventure.

The 2010 Mt Kilimanjaro Fundraising Trek is just around the corner and aims to raise money for disadvantaged children in schools, IDP camps, and orphanages in Kenya. However, to meet our base fundraising target which provides immediate needs such as food, medical care, and education for the kids, we are seeking three more participants to join the trek.

I am appealing to those of you who have ever dreamt of climbing a mountain for a cause to join our Mt Kilimanjaro Trek. You will not only be making a difference to communities in need, you will be bagging one of the world's seven summits.

I led the first GVN Kilimanjaro Trek in 2005 and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and the bonds I formed on that trip still remain strong today.

Checkout this slideshow which was made by one of the trekkers from the 2008 Fundraising team.

Come on, who is up for the challenge? Help us reach our fundraising target: sign up now!

I can’t think of a better way to start 2010 than being part of this challenging, rewarding, and life changing experience.

Colin Salisbury