Inspirational opportunities available with VMM

By Patrick Hart

VMM International – or the Volunteer Missionary Movement – is offering inspirational short-term volunteering opportunities in Africa among its range of activities for 2017.
The short-term volunteering programme is a chance to take part in projects in Malawi, Uganda and Ghana, as VMM responds to a clearly articulated need from partner organisations in Africa.
Successful applicants will spend three to six weeks working alongside local VMM volunteers and coordinators on a variety of schemes, including teaching assistance, community development and even construction.
The main initiatives, and the countries involved, are:
• Uganda – teaching assistance work at local primary schools, including helping with lessons and after-school activities; also construction and admin positions
• Malawi – community development placements in youth work, teaching assistance and home care for those affected by HIV
• Ghana – volunteer possibilities in childcare, sports coaching, education and building projects
These opportunities are open to people of all ages and levels of experience; while some openings are aimed specifically at 18 to 25-year-olds, there are other specialised projects for those with a lifetime of experience. Additionally, professional placements are possible.
The hope is that volunteers will gain a deeper understanding of development issues while also, potentially, becoming equipped and experienced enough to be able to fill full-time positions in the future.
Student Phoebe Pennington, who completed a short-term teaching placement in Uganda last summer, said: "As I planned to study education and international development at university, this placement gave me a great opportunity to gain first-hand experience of development work in the area of primary education. Volunteering allowed me to share my skills with the teachers and students, but also gave me the chance to learn and develop. My time in Africa was inspirational."
VMM is an international development and volunteering organisation which, since being founded in 1969, has sent more than 2,000 lay volunteers to nearly 40 countries. As a faith and values-based operation, it works to help grassroots partners in nine African countries take care of the needs that local people consider most important to them.
Its vision is to help build "a world where we live in the shelter of one another"; its mission "to share who we are and not just what we have".
Bishop John Arnold, chair of CAFOD's board of trustees, says: "The work of VMM goes much further than just giving money to the needy – it is about fulfilling the potential of people."
John Denny, VMM CEO, adds: "This is not just about VMM; it is our service contribution to the wider mission family in responding positively to real need and, in so doing, reinforcing and developing the role of lay mission in international development."
Thus VMM recruits, trains, sends out and supports skilled and committed volunteers to share their own unique skills with people in developing countries. One key corollary of these efforts is to promote in a positive light in the UK and Ireland the concept of mission.
The organisation has strong partnerships with universities, professional associations, mission orders and development NGOs that share a commitment to making real the aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goals 2016, for some of the poorest and most marginalised communities on our planet.
It is a network that VMM strives continually to consolidate in order to keep making a positive difference – and, ideally, to create a vital surplus for mission investment.
VMM has offices in Dublin, Liverpool and Kenya. For UK, contact Van Garber via: or 0044 (0)151 291 3438.