With only 6 more months left in country, I like many fellow volunteers, have begun to look at the impact I’ve made on my site. If just looking at the school, the classes and the system that I sometimes work in then it can be really depressing. There’s no great change that has occurred in that sector. Yes, I do teach two health classes a week when before there was none, but once I’m gone that will discontinue. Will my health organization still continue to teach, I don’t know and I think it’s likely. Do the clubs I run actually provide any major impact to those students that participate? I don’t know and I won’t know during my time here. Sure there are the few outstanding students that have been impacted and will make something of themselves but by just looking at the school it’s not there. There is no new health teacher, nor are the teachers themselves educated on health. So without a health volunteer there will be no health education… how sustainable and life altering is that?
So where then can the impact be seen? I think in two areas: work and family. My work has definitely seen an impact, if only in the forms of “stuff” that they’ve gotten. Sometimes I think the impact I’ve made on them is in obtaining grants. Without a grant they don’t really do anything, so if there is no grant how are they impacting the community. Sure they’ve been able to produce a new juice project and do an environmental project, HIV/AIDS education and several others, but it was all based on grants. Which then leads me to think would any of this have occurred without a grant and is my impact on them only as a grant obtainer. I’ve never been able to implement monthly health seminars for themselves, they need training just as much as everyone. But at least through these grants I have been able to see people’s lives changed (the anemia juice project). They themselves as an organization has seen change in terms of health education teaching. I’ve been able to teach them about interactive teaching, presentations and a large improvement has been noted in their lessons, which is definitely going to impact many people. Also another impact I’ve seen has just been with them learning new information. Through these grants we’ve been able to bring in consultants and other professionals which have only helped their professional development. So although it may look like there may not be much impact, there truly is.
The final are of impact is the family. I do think I’ve had some impact on my host family; I know the previous volunteer did. I’ve been able to develop relationships, educate them and just become a part of their lives in ways I didn’t imagine. I’m not sure what will stay with them but I know something will and by them just having a volunteer for 2 years has been an impact on them in some many ways.
So when it looks like I may not have any areas of impact I can always look at my host family and realize that some has occurred in some ways, and if it’s only one family reached and changed in some small way, well then it’s worth it. Volunteer often think we don’t really make that much of a difference at times but the truth is we do; we just have to look for those special people that prove it.