I had a perfect volunteer placement sorted, my flights were booked and I had excitedly told all my family and friends all about it. But it fell through, didn’t happen! 🙁
This is the problem with doing everything ‘off the hoof’, you always have to be weary that things might not go as planned… well, if you are doing things last minute there probably wasn’t much of a plan anyway.
My perfect volunteer placement was organised through someone who put me in touch from London, who I then met in Kolkata, who then invited me to volunteer with them for a month, helping to set up a new international volunteer scheme, looking at recruitment, the volunteer programme and a volunteer handbook. I was very excited! This was just what I was after.
It was agreed that I would start 3 weeks later, my expenses would be covered (accommodation, food and travel to and from the accommodation each day). The only thing they wouldn’t cover was my transport to and from Kolkata as I was only volunteering for 4 weeks rather than the usual 8… but that was ok, as I didn’t have far to come as was already in India.
So I trotted off on my travels around North India for 3 weeks, booked my flights to start in Kolkata in mid-July and awaited information on my airport pick up.
Less than a week before I was due to start I got an email entitled ‘URGENT’ It stated that the big boss had returned from America and said there was a) no room at their volunteer accommodation and b) the volunteer scheme I was to be setting up would be taking a back seat until 2012.
Is this bad practice? Well, it isn’t the best way to go about things! My contact should have probably checked with the ‘big boss’ before allowing me to book my flights and change my plans, but then at the same time I was ONLY a volunteer?!? … it’s not like I signed a contract or anything and it wasn’t through any kind of formal scheme.
So perfect volunteering might sometimes be too good to be true, often with anything, if it seems to good to be true it probably is and you should always be weary of volunteer placements abroad, how they will look after you and giving over money without any confirmation.
Luckily mine wasn’t anything I was paying for and I am certain it was an honest mistake and last minute change of plans that couldn’t be helped. Maybe I can come back in 2012 and help with the project.
But for now … keep a close eye on all your volunteer placements, check, double check and check again, ask lots of questions … but most of all stay positive and persevere! Where your help is needed you are sure to shine through and volunteer as you hope to.