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Life-changing stories

What is it like to live and work in a developing country as a VSO volunteer? Read about VSO volunteer experiences, what it's like to work with a VSO volunteer from the point of view of our partner organisations and how VSO’s work is changing the lives of people in the poorest communities every day. These are real stories from real people that leave a lasting impact.

To find out firsthand what it's like to be a VSO volunteer read the blogs written by volunteers currently serving overseas

Chris Holt, VSO nurse clinical instructor teaches a student how to insert an IV line and cannula to a prosthetic arm
Flag of Malawi
  • Health

Across Malawi there are very high rates of child and adult mortality. In addition, there is an acute shortage of trained health workers which has an impact on health care delivery and many people die from preventable causes. In this backdrop, Chris Holt shares his experiences of training nurses in Malawi.

Flag of Nigeria
  • Secure livelihoods

In Nigeria, VSO volunteer agro-business advisor Sanne Holtslag is supporting five Making Markets Work partners, including Premier Agricultural Development, an organisation that helps farmers in southern Kaduna profit from a growing catfish market.

Flag of Malawi
  • Secure livelihoods

Accenture funded VSO volunteer Rona Ramos has spent two years working with farmers as a marketing adviser helping to improve the entire dairy value chain in Malawi.

Primary school teachers at Buchii Ri commune Cambodia
Flag of Cambodia
  • Education icon

Primary teachers in Cambodia are lacking the motivation to delivery quality education because their salaries are low and often unreliable. Five VSO volunteers have been working closely with VSO Cambodia, schools and education advocacy partners over the past two years to help tackle these issues and improve the quality of education in the country.

Flag of Rwanda
  • Disability

Thanks to a new common sign language, many deaf people in Rwanda can now receive an education, visit doctors and join in family conversations. VSO volunteers like Antonia Eastman have played a vital role in supporting the creation of the language in Rwanda, which allows deaf people from across the country to communicate with each other for the first time.

VSO volunteer nurse Briony Jenkins at hospital in Malawi
Flag of Malawi
  • Health

Seven out of ten child deaths in Malawi are due to preventable causes such as malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia and malnutrition. Malaria and pneumonia alone account for nearly half of those deaths. Through the THET programme, nurse trainer Briony Jenkins is sharing vital paediatric nursing skills with students at Nkhoma Hospital to improve nursing standards and care for children.

Flag of Malawi
  • Health

In spite of UN targets that aim to drastically improve maternal health by 2015, Malawi still has one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the world. Through the THET programme, UK midwife trainer Beth Connelly is spending a year at a hospital in rural Malawi sharing vital midwifery skills with more than 200 students.  Addressing the chronic shortage of trained health professionals is seen as key to help directly reduce the number of mothers and babies needlessly dying in childbirth.

Flag of Malawi
  • Health

In Malawi, one child in eight dies before reaching age of five, often because of poor access to qualified health workers. Through the THET programme, UK nurse trainer David Atherton is spending just under two years at a hospital in rural Malawi sharing vital nursing skills with more than 100 students.  Addressing the chronic shortage of trained health professionals is seen as key to help directly reduce the number of people dying because of inadequate access to professional healthcare. 

Durga's story
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  • Education iconParticipation and governance

Born and raised in a rural Himalayan village in Nepal, Durga Khatri was just 14-years-old when she was forcibly married. Pressure from her husband’s family forced her to drop out of school, but she managed to fit in time around her housework to complete a degree. Today, Durga is a strong advocate for girl’s education in her village, and is involved in local decision-making supported by VSO partner WEAF (Women’s Empowerment Action Forum).  VSO volunteer Cath Nixon conducts women’s leadership training for Durga and other women in Himalayan villages. 

Flag of Nepal
Flag of Nepal
  • Participation and governance

Ganga Adhikari struggled to gain acceptance from her husband’s family because she is from a lower-caste, but her involvement in decision-making at the village level through VSO partner WEAF (Women’s Empowerment Action Forum) has helped her to earn their respect. Now she is an advocate for equality between men and women. VSO volunteer Cath Nixon conducts women’s leadership training for Ganga and other women in Himalayan villages near Dailekh, Nepal.

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