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Your location>Home>Publications>PeaceWays>Spring 2012

   
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Volunteering with AGLI
Dawn Rubbert, AGLI Program Manager

It's possible to have a very direct, concrete impact. Andrew Peterson

Perhaps the best way to tell you about volunteering with AGLI is through the words of former volunteers, and a few photos.

Going on a four-week camp is in some ways an out-of-this-world experience. I have been in a totally different place and have had 24/ 7 experiences of life with a group of people I had never met a month ago. I came in a new place totally different from my home but in 4 weeks it has become in some ways like a home and the people like another family. Anna Crumley-Effinger, Rwanda work camp, Summer 2005

You can choose between becoming an Extended Service Volunteer (EVS) or joining one of our five-week long work camps held in multiple locations each June/July. ESVs volunteer for 3 months to a year or more. We have no age requirements; acceptance is done on an individual basis. Twice we have had entire families participate in a work camp together.

Extended Service Volunteers (EVS)
Andrew Peterson grew up in Denver, Colorado, USA. In May of 2008 he traveled to Burundi as an ESV serving until July 2009. Andrew’s last weeks were spent on the goat project.
The week before last, I traveled to five communities in the interior of the country to oversee the distribution 150 goats, each to a pair of people that will jointly take care of the goat [one Tutsi woman and one Hutu woman], giving them an excuse to interact more regularly and build relationships.

Asked about his experience, Andrew wrote,
The time I spent in Burundi working with AGLI was an experience that not only taught me a lot about a part of Africa and about myself, but also brought me closer to my values and sense of purpose. In a world fraught with confusion, doubt, and despair, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and believe that we are helpless to change things, but volunteering for HROC I saw that it's possible to have a very direct, concrete impact when work is undertaken with respect, love, and commitment.

Andrew returned to volunteer in Burundi during the summer of 2010. Read more and see his fantastic photos on his blog by clicking here.

Emily Higgs spent 3 months in Rwanda often helping to conduct AVP (Alternatives to Violence) workshops. As her work there drew to a close she wrote,

My time in Rwanda is drawing to a close - hard to believe it!… I’m starting to feel sentimental about leaving: no more rogue rooster under my window, fruit so delicious it feels sinful, warm sunny days without fail, music to make your heart melt, and the five lizards who have kept me company for these many weeks. That said, I am ready for a shower and some ice cream too.
[photo of Emily & AVP facilitators]

Work Camps

In 2011 AGLI conducted two work camps; one in Burundi at the Friend’s Woman’s Association (FWA) clinic and one in at the Gisenyi Peace Center in Rwanda. Coincidentally each of them built walls around a compound of buildings erected during earlier work camps. An orientation is held in the Washington DC area for North American work campers in late June and they depart together for Africa. Once at the work camp locations the international work campers meet the African members of their team and together they are led through a 3-day basic AVP (Alternatives to Violence) workshop.

Lin Considine and her 20 year old daughter were at the clinic. Lin says,
My experience was a life changing event. . .The AVP workshop was helpful to see that peace efforts and forgiveness programs are active in Burundi. It was a meaningful connection to me to be done as soon as we arrived as it helped all of us see that we are more connected than disconnected. . .

The physical work was perfect. Hard labor, but many breaks! There was a lot of down time, however, that was the time when we got to just sit quietly, and learn how to “be” and to enjoy each other. This is the time when we would be with the Burundian work campers and get to know them and their language. I would very much like to find a way to come back to Burundi, to FWA, as an extended service volunteer.

Erik Nelson was on the Rwanda team. He wrote,
The weekend excursions were all fun and were a great use of our time. They fostered bonding between all of the work campers, gave us a taste of Rwanda outside of our immediate area, and showed us things that we’re better off having seen (the orphanage, in particular, was an emotionally taxing but rewarding ordeal).

You can find more photos and writings of our volunteer alumni on the AGLI website. Our Volunteer Handbook is also available online. Please contact me at dawn@aglifpt.org with any questions that arise. I do enjoy telling people about our work.

Expectations for Work Campers and ESVs.

Work campers and extended service volunteers fill out an application and form a clearness committee. When the application and report of the clearness committee is received, the material is sent to the AGLI section committee for their determination. These volunteers must sign a statement on expected behaviors. These include willingness to work under the direction of the African leader, respecting local culture and laws including no use of tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs, wear appropriate dress, and go out at night only in the presence of local Africans.

Work campers and extended service volunteers need to raise the minimum amount needed for travel (around $2,000), living expenses ($400 to $500 per month), and administrative costs ($500). North American work campers attend a one-day orientation in Washington, DC. Extended service volunteers and work campers are also expected to donate $1200 towards the program they are involved with. AGLI prefers that people raise these funds from their family, friends, and religious and civic organizations because this publicity promotes the AGLI programs.