UCD Volunteers Overseas was established in 2003 by the former UCD Chaplain Fr Tony Coote in response to an expressed desire among students to engage in voluntary work abroad. Since its inception and launch as a registered charitable organisation in 2004, UCDVO has extended its activities to projects in India (Delhi and Andhra Pradesh), Haiti, Nicaragua,Tanzania and Uganda and employs a full-time Manager to co-ordinate its activities. To date, 776 volunteers have engaged in environmental, educational, healthcare, construction and computer training projects in disadvantaged communities overseas.
Who can volunteer?
The UCDVO Programme is open to all UCD Students, Staff and Alumni
Applications open in September each year. The first stage requires you to fill out an online application form stating why you want to volunteer, what you think you will learn from the host community, any previous volunteer experience etc. Candidates will then be short listed for an interview. Following the interview process, places are offered to successful candidates by mid-November.
Length of the projects
All projects last for 4 weeks, with depature dates of the 14th/21st of June depending on what project you are on. There is an opportunity to stay on after you finish the project and travel, but this is at your own expense. Although the project is 4 weeks, the programme runs over 12 months. Here is a break down of the year's events (dates may vary from year to year):
Volunteers who participate in the annual volunteer programme have an individual target of €2,500 which must be lodged to the UCDVO account before departure for overseas. This covers volunteers' flights, accomodation, visas, insurance, local transport and training. It is also allocated to the costs of the projects you are working on, i.e. construction of schools, houses, educational resources, physiotherapy equipment etc.
There are other costs to volunteers which are not included in the above target, such as travel vaccinations, anti-malaria medication and other medical supplies, doctor's cert to show fitness to travel, suitable clothing and equipment for working on project sites. These costs are covered personally by the individual and are not covered by fundraising.
UCDVO and Physiotherapy
Since its establishment in 2003, UCDVO has had a close relationship with UCD physiotherapy students, with more than 40 physiotherapy students undertaking UCDVO projects over the past 10 years. Concurrent to this, many physiotherapy students organise independently and undertake elective placements in developing countries as part of their undergraduate degree in June every year, for example in 2012, 6 students completed their elective clinical placement in Africa. Physiotherapy projects are now in place in Delhi, South India, Uganda, and just this year in Nicaragua.
UCDVO has been running volunteer projects in Delhi since 2003. Over 250 volunteers from UCD and approximately 50 volunteers from universities in Delhi have worked together to implement a number of education, physiotherapy and construction projects primarily based in slum areas around the city. The physiotherapy project is based in a homeless shelter for men with physical and mental disabilities.
UCDVO Partner Organisations include:
South India Project
In 2010, UCDVO began working in Vijayawada, a city in Andhra Pradesh in the south-east of India. UCDVO established a partnership with the international NGO Care and Share which run two ‘Children’s Villages’ for over one thousand children who have been orphaned or abandoned as a result of HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty. Each year, volunteers live with the children for one month and organise youth clubs, sports camps, and health education workshops as well as awareness raising campaigns. Like Delhi, there is also a physiotherapy project here, where volunteers will be working in special needs schools with children with disabilities
UCDVO has been running projects in Gros Morne in north-west Haiti since 2005. Since then, over 200 volunteers have spent one month working within this same community. UCDVO works with two missionary sisters, Sr. Patricia Dillon and Sr. Jackie Picard from the Religious of Jesus and Mary (RJM), to implement community development projects which have included the construction of houses, schools, shelters, latrines, flood prevention walls; and summer camps for almost 2000 children from the local area.
UCDVO began its first project in Nicaragua in 2007 in the village of San Isabel near the town of Somoto in northern Nicaragua. Locals identified the need for a Health Centre and the supply of water as their chief needs. In partnership with SILIAS the governmental health organisation UCDVO volunteers and locals built the health centre and paid for the drilling and supply of water to the village. In 2008 volunteers built another Health Centre in El Kairo. Since 2009, volunteers have been based in the town of Somoto and collaborate with a number of NGOs for implementing educational and construction projects. For the first time, this year there will be a physiotherapy project in Nicaragua. UCDVO's main partners are:
Through links with the Irish Embassy in Dar es Saalam a partnership was established with a Tanzanian NGO called TanzEd. In 2009, UCDVO sent a group of volunteers to Morogoro, Tanzania for the first time. Since then volunteers have continued to work on computer education programmes, teaching english, classroom refurbishments, summer camps for children, distribution of books and educational resources, as well as the construction of a basketball court at Kihonda secondary school. UCDVO partner with Camara for the collection and transport of computers from Ireland.
UCDVO has developed a partnership with the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science and Kisiizi Hospital in Southwest Uganda to offer a unique volunteering elective placement to physiotherapy students. In June 2013, a team of five volunteers, including two chartered physiotherapists will volunteer at Kisiizi Hospital to provide support to an existing rehabilitation unit. As a newly qualified physiotherapist, you can volunteer in Kisiizi Hospital and help supervise students on their elective placements.
Kisiizi Hosipital is located rurally in the Rukungiri district of South Western Uganda, one of the nine priority countries of Irish Aid. Since 2010, five UCD physiotherapy students have successfully undertaken their elective clinical placement in Kisiizi Hospital, resulting in a very strong link between UCD and Kisiizi Hospital.
Check out this video
For more information, you can check out the UCDVO website and Facebook page.
You can call into the UCDVO office which is located in the Global Lounge in the Gerard Manley Hopkins Centre on the UCD campus. You can also speak to past volunteers at the UCDVO Student Office beside Readers’ Café also on the UCD campus.