The case studies below illustrate just a few of our successful diaspora partnerships.
Kenyan diaspora volunteer Shem Obuya increases fish production
Shem Obuya, a biotechnologist and fisheries expert, volunteered with VSO's Diaspora Volunteering Programme (DVP). Like many Kenyans living in the UK, he wanted to help contribute to development in his country of origin.
Shem worked with DVP partner Africa Community Development Foundation to train technical staff at the Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) in breeding catfish using modern fish farming techniques. As a result of Shem's training, seven LBDA staff members are now training workers across western Kenya, who are in turn sharing their skills with more than 500 fish farmers.
The training has already resulted in increased fish production. In 2008 the annual production of small fish averaged 300,000. In the six months since Shem's intervention, it has leapt to 1.5 million, enhancing security in food supplies and providing incomes to small-scale fish farmers across the region.
A life enhancing experience for Malawian diaspora volunteer, Musaiwale
Malawian Initiative for National Development (MIND) sent a multi-disciplinary team of diaspora Malawian professional volunteers to Malawi. They were able to both rejuvenate the concept of volunteering and address the skills shortage within the health sector, turning the notion of 'brain drain' into 'brain gain'.
One volunteer, Musaiwale, was initially concerned about returning to Malawi. "The entire thought of going to operate in a resource-constrained health delivery environment is a daunting one, but I am extremely motivated that I will do the best I can possibly do" he said.
Musaiwale spent his placement at Kamuzu Central Hospital, one of the three largest referral hospitals in Malawi. Despite his initial concerns, the placement was a success. Musaiwale comments: "My mission was very refreshing: I shared my professional skills and also gained new skills in coping with the immense workload of service users".
Tanzanian diaspora volunteers inspire community action
Before 2009 Mkwakwani secondary school was an average Tanzanian school with no computers. With African Child Trust's 'Schools Information, Communication and Technology Support' (SIS) project, one classroom has already been transformed with the introduction of 23 computers.
Nineteen teachers benefited from the basic information and communications technology (ICT) training sessions African Child Trust diaspora volunteers led at Usagara Secondary School Computer Training Centre (established through the SIS project). Eleven of these teachers went on to take the intermediate course, with one teacher, Mr Sempoli, going on to complete the advanced course.
Since then Mr Sempoli has been determined to build strong computer literacy at Mkwakwani. As part of SIS project plans, Form One ICT classes were formally added to the timetable, with 36 students receiving lessons three times a week. With growing demand Mr Sempoli has even established lessons for fourth form students. The head of school says Mr Sempoli is "very ambitious", with a vision that all Mkawakwani students will benefit from their ICT classes. There are already plans to roll out the project across the school, covering the rest of Form Four and then moving through the school to the lower years.
Diaspora organisation builds capacity to new levels
The Asian People's Disability Alliance (APDA) joined the DVP with experience of delivering strong disability programmes in the UK, but with little experience of overseas programming. APDA required skills in programme planning, needs assessment and managing an international volunteering programme for work in the disability sector in Sri Lanka. When ADPA were awarded funding to conduct a research trip to Sri Lanka, a DVP capacity building officer accompanied them and helped them identify the key areas of need.
Further mentoring enabled APDA to successfully apply for a DFID grant, which funded 20 volunteers to work in Sri Lanka. As a result of the work of APDA diaspora volunteers, disabled people in Puttalam, Sri Lanka are more visible and vocal in the community and have the skills and confidence to hold their local authorities to account. With support from the government, APDA has opened a disability resource centre which offers vital respite and support for disabled people, their families and carers. So far over 100 people have benefited from services at the centre.