How much of a difference can one person really make? This is a question many ask and one that some of our Change the World volunteers had answered through their experience with the programme.
‘There’s a lot of work to be done and a lot of us need to do it.’ This is according to Cliff Stanbury, who spent the last year working with Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products (ASNAPP).
Cliff was one of 20 Vodacom Change the World (CtW) volunteers who took a break from his full-time job as a mechanical engineer and dedicated his time and energy to making a difference to a community in need through the 2016 edition of the Vodacom Change the World programme.
Cliff believes every South African needs to make a positive change in his or her community. ‘I think everybody should get out of their comfort zone and make a difference, and join a programme like Vodacom CtW,’ he says.
Cliff's role was to help transform the NPO to operate like a social enterprise that generates revenue and in so doing, become sustainable.
Similarly, another VCtW volunteer, Bheki Mchunu, who worked at Newlands Mashu Community Development Centre, says the experience was life-changing. It opened his eyes to what is possible when the private sector, NPOs and communities work together. ‘I [now] appreciate the synergies that come through when that happens.'
Bheki says: 'I think that’s what we need as a society and a country to move forward.’ Before getting involved in the programme, Bheki was involved in youth and rural development, and had just completed his Masters in Economic History.
He facilitated in testing and gathering data for an app in development. He also recruited a group of young people, trained them and provided them with devices to collect information from rural businesses. ‘It was both an opportunity to learn and make a meaningful contribution. You can achieve so much by volunteering your time and collaborating with like-minded people to do work that has a positive impact on society as a whole,’ he says.
More to come
Although the programme only requires individuals to volunteer for a year, the experience has had a lasting impact. Cliff explains that while his VCtW stint has come to an end, he has secured extra funding to complete the development of a grey water system with ASNAPP that will be used to irrigate food gardens.
Another of his projects, a blueberry incubator, only comes to fruition in September, but Cliff intends to stick around for that too. ‘We are going to bring 20 smallholder farmers onto the programme for a year, teach them to grow blueberries and at the end of that process, give them the opportunity to grow their own. This has come about as part of my being here and I wouldn’t have been here if it wasn’t for VCtW,’ he adds.
Meanwhile for Bheki, one of the most meaningful aspects was upskilling young people. ‘There’s a group of young people who can go on and work as field workers beyond the project. They have been trained to use mobile devices to collect information,’ he says.
Personally, the Vodacom CtW programme has pushed him to pursue his idea to launch his own NPO, which will benefit school-going children in rural communities by enhancing their learning experience. ‘I wanted to make a contribution that is in line with what I want my legacy to be,’ Bheki says.
The next batch
The entries for the 2017 edition of Vodacom Change the World will close on 31 July. You must be between the ages of 21-35 to apply. Before sending through your application, you'll need to have already spoken to your chosen Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) and agreed on your job description, role and monthly salary. Go to the Vodacom website to apply.