President - Grace Lissenden
To me, BVDA presented an opportunity to expand my horizons from local charitable ventures to grassroots international social and economic development which I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about in my time at Bristol University. The project I designed for India was incredibly challenging and I could not be more proud of our team’s practical response as critical and conscientious volunteers to such unfamiliar situations on the ground. With my experience as Project Researcher and Nepal Project Parent last year I hope to, as President, continue to encourage candid discussion of International Development and prioritise the sustainable focus of our projects as much as I can with the help of such an experienced and hard-working committee.
Vice President - Hayley Hall
BVDA presents a fantastic opportunity for university students to take part in sustainable volunteering abroad, working with grass root NGOs and living in rural communities. The fact that we are a small-scale and student led really sets us apart from the crowd of other overseas volunteering opportunities by keeping the charity accessible, financially transparent and critically evaluative. My experiences as training coordinator last year and as a volunteer in Nepal have inspired me to want to continue to be involved in the running of BVDA as Vice President this year. I had the experience of a lifetime living with a Nepali family in a rural mountain village and working with the local Women’s Cooperative on the construction of a community centre building. I hope to oversee more student volunteers embarking on sustainable needs led projects with BVDA this coming summer by supporting Grace, BVDA’s President, as well as the hard working and enthusiastic members of the committee.
Treasurer - Gabriella Nizam
The experience of a life time and one that can only be described as awe – inspiring. BVDA opened my eyes up to the work a true grass roots NGO can do and the impact it can have on a community. It has been, to date the best summer I’ve had. I spent 7 weeks in Eastern Uganda, working on a water based project with a fantastic charity called ‘Little Big Africa’. Our work ranged from teaching children health and sanitation in schools to building stoves from locally sourced materials and setting up committees to ensure the long term sustainability of the project. I’ve learnt a lot about International Development and Ugandan culture. My role this year is that of Treasurer, where I’ll be organising the financial transparency and budgets of next years projects.
Committee Coordinator - Anna Halliday
Being part of BVDA has been one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things that I have done during my time at Bristol. It provides a unique platform to learn about international development and aid issues as well as providing an excellent opportunity to meet like-minded individuals.
Last summer, I spent seven weeks in a rural village in Eastern Uganda, working on several sustainability based projects with an amazing charity, “Little Big Africa”. In short, it was one of the most memorable and illuminating experiences of my life. Aided with the training provided by BVDA, we were totally immersed in a brand new culture and our work genuinely benefitted the lives of those in the community. It allowed me to learn many new skills and make some truly wonderful friends along the way.
This year I will be acting as the Committee Coordinator, a role which I am very excited about. My job will be to help organise the whole committee, working alongside the President and Vice-President to ensure that the charity goals are met.
If you do one thing during your time at University of Bristol, make it BVDA.
Malawi Project Parent - Cat Choate
Thanks to the absolute gem that is BVDA, I had the most incredible and rewarding summer and have made a bunch of truly brilliant friends for life. BVDA gives you the opportunity to see how international NGOs actually do the amazing work we are always hearing about and allows you to get stuck into projects that make a real, local difference. I spent my summer in a small village in southern Malawi working with an NGO called NAYO (Nancholi Youth Organisation) on a social project and learnt an unbelievable amount! My role as project parent this year will be to make sure next year’s volunteers have a challenging and enjoyable project to work on as well as being a source of support and information during their preparation for project.
Uganda Project Parent - Ruby Ffrench
I couldn’t recommend anything that I’ve done at university more, than the BVDA projects. The six weeks that I spent in a rural village in Eastern Uganda, with five others from Bristol, were some of the most exciting, challenging and thought-provoking weeks of my life. We were trained for 10 days by the local grassroots NGO ‘Little Big Africa’ before making our way to a village where we worked with locals on small projects based upon water and sanitation. The four main objectives were teaching adults and children, constructing a water tank for the school, protecting a water source and building fuel-efficient stoves made from free, locally sourced materials. We also set up committees for each of these aims to ensure that the work we did will be sustainable. BVDA is special because it’s a charity that creates true positive change in a needs-based way, continually monitoring and evaluating the work that it’s volunteers do. If you’re looking for something to really open your eyes to life in a developing country, then this project is for you. My role this year is to support next year’s set of volunteers in having as much as an awe-inspiring trip as mine was.
Nepal Project Parent - Tiffany Gwee
Hi! I am Tiffany and I am a final year Philosophy and Sociology student. I spent 6 weeks in a small village in Nepal called Chamaita during Summer 2016 and it was filled with a mixture of strange, frustrating, fascinating and exciting experiences that I will carry with me in my heart always. It was really cool that we got to build a building from scratch and had the chance to set up and work with a new women's group. As an international student (I am from Singapore!), it was extremely fun to bond and learn much more about my other groupmates' very different culture and habits as well (and I was sure they learnt a lot from me too since I was the only Asian in the team haha). I strongly urge everyone to join BVDA too - I promise you you would not regret it! I am really really thrilled to be able to contribute to this wonderful charity once again as the Nepal Project Parent this school year.
India Project Parent - Frances Cummings
The India project provided an opportunity to face and solve problems unlike any that can be encountered at home. This year, I hope to create a project that ensures the money that volunteers raise which goes to such great causes is backed up by the most sustainable and effective volunteering possible.
Trainer - Tom Duck
When I first came to Bristol, I could never have guessed that a small student society like the BVDA could have so much influence on so many people, including myself. I spent this summer in Malawi working on the BVDA’s first ever social led project interacting with the local community and exchanging cultural values in a helpful and meaningful way. Through teaching, HIV/AIDS awareness sessions, computer lessons and much more, I genuinely believe that we have set the scene for long term sustainable development which future volunteers will build upon. This year I will be teaming up with Caitlin as the BVDA’s training coordinators, making sure that all the new volunteers feel thoroughly prepared for project and can enjoy all the life experiences that BVDA has to offer.
Trainer - Caitlin Bromfield
I certainly wouldn’t have imagined the incredible experience that lay ahead of me when I applied for BVDA late December of last year. The Malawi project was truly the most satisfying and rewarding experience, building life-long friendships and immersing oneself in a foreign culture in a way like no other. It was an unforgettable time, spending the 7 weeks teaching and working on health and sanitation projects, the project exceeded all my expectations. My job as trainer along with Tom; is to prepare you, our new volunteers for your projects abroad. The skills and knowledge you will attain will be invaluable on project, as well as the opportunity to meet your fellow team members before the trip. Having never done anything like this before, BVDA was a fantastic experience and I was impressed by how well run and organised the charity was. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in volunteering abroad, have a go, apply! I look forward to meeting you at training!
Monitoring and Evaluation Officer - Sophie Buckle
I signed up to BVDA at the Freshers’ Fair last year along with many, many other societies. In the end BVDA was the only one I stuck with and I’m so glad that I did. My summer was made extraordinary this year by volunteering with BVDA in Uganda. Our project was focused on teaching the community about health and sanitation and constructing infrastructure to support this. By the end of the project we were able to see the long-lasting difference created by the community and our team working together. If you are interested in international development, want to meet like-minded people and be challenged; BVDA is definitely for you. My job this year is to evaluate last year’s projects and make sure they are improved in any way they can be.
Monitoring & Evaluation Officer - Sofia Banks
I joined BVDA in second year, and I can only wish that I had joined in first year, as it has been the most rewarding and eye-opening experience I have ever participated in. My 7 weeks in Malawi over the summer of 2016 changed the way I view the world, and taught me a lot about dealing with people. I embarked on the trip with the idea that we would change the world, and have come away realizing this is not possible (especially in that time frame), but that every little impact you make on one person, has the chance to affect the world in larger ways. By the end of the trip, the most important aspect of this project, to me, was not the practical differences we made such as providing clean water, but the personal side of the project. I became close to various local people over the course of the trip, and discussions on the politics of the country, self-motivation and (especially) gender issues were often enjoyed. These conversations are the part of the project that I think were most impactful, because not only did they allow us to understand the people & culture better and educate ourselves on such issues in other countries, however we were able to bring in an international view on these issues and educate those we talked with. To me this was the most important aspect, as the restrictions of their society do not allow them to learn about such international issues and progress, and I believe it is this furthering of knowledge and experience that enables change.
It is these experiences that have changed who I am as a person, and I can only thank BVDA for providing the structure and ideas for me to gain this sort of experience. I can only hope that I will go back to Nancholi, Malawi in the next few years to say “Mulibwanje” (Hello in Chichewa) to those people again, and to learn how far they’ve come.
This year, I will be a ‘Monitoring and Evaluation Officer’, and I look forward to reviewing the four projects of 2016, and seeing how we can further improve them for the year of 2017. At BVDA, we pride ourselves in encouraging critical feedback, in order to make sure every year is more effective and enjoyable than the last.
If you want to join something that will have a long-lasting positive impact on your life, join BVDA! :)
Monitoring & Evaluation Officer - Siraaj Mohammed
Put simply, getting involved with BVDA is one of the best decisions I have ever made. The work that BVDA does initially caught my eye at the freshers’ fayre, and whilst I did have good intentions in terms of wanting to make a positive difference in the world, I honestly didn’t know the first thing about sustainable international development! Training with BVDA, the 6 weeks on project in Uganda and spending time with such like-minded people all taught me that sustainable volunteering means:
• Forming meaningful relationships that facilitate change
• Working hard and conscientiously with the community
• Having fun, making an observable long-term difference and seeing a bit more of the world!
My role this year is that of a Monitoring and Evaluation officer. I’ll be working with Sofia and Sophie to review the 4 projects we ran in the summer of 2016, looking at how things can be done differently to ensure the next wave of projects are even more effective, engaging and downright awesome than they were before! It’s this ethos of continuous improvement for the sake of the communities that we support that really sets BVDA apart, and I think that’s pretty great.
Fundraising Officer - Flo Lineman
I joined BVDA in first year and knew next to nothing about sustainable development or the work behind it. When I was selected to go on a 7 week project in Eastern Uganda, I was apprehensive about immersing myself into a completely different culture and putting new skills into practice to help a local community. Now, having been on project, I can confidently say joining BVDA has been the most worthwhile thing I have ever done. I had the privilege of working with an incredible charity called Little Big Africa which sets up needs-based projects based on water and sanitation. It was a humbling experience to be able to see the positive change we could make in the village with a lot perseverance and open mindedness.
I can’t recommend BVDA enough to anyone considering it. I have made some amazing friends for life and my experience has given me a new perspective on cultures vastly different from my own. This year I will be helping volunteers reach their fundraising target, hopefully with some exciting fundraising events! I really enjoyed fundraising last year as it was a good way to bond with your team and a great opportunity to engage with the project and consider where the money is going.
Charity Fundraiser - Lucy Hackett
After hearing about the incredible experience that my fellow geographer and friend, Sophie Buckle (Monitoring and Evaluating Officer) had in Uganda last summer, I was intrigued to discover more about sustainable international development and to explore how I could get involved. And after the best summer of my life volunteering with Little Big Africa through BVDA in Eastern Uganda, I encourage all interested in volunteering abroad to approach us and get involved! I am passionate about sustainability and cultural awareness, and these are aspects BVDA is also very passionate about. My role is to organise events during the year to fundraise for the charity and to maintrain our reserve funds. I am looking forward to having lots of fun with volunteers past and present while promoting BVDA to to as many students as we can!
Project Researcher - Laura Moss
This summer, I had the opportunity to go to Uganda to volunteer with the grassroots NGO, Little Big Africa for 7 weeks. Located in a rural village called Bushiribo, we became part of the community: attending church, making friends and visiting their houses. Through this integration, we were able to offer: fuel-efficient stove training constructed from locally sourced materials; hygiene and sanitation lessons; the construction of a water tank; and the protection a water source. Finally we mobilized the community to elect committees to continue our work. The opportunity to integrate into the village community has allowed me to learn so much about Uganda and appreciate a completely different way of life. I look forward to researching potential BVDA projects to help BVDA grow and to contributing to BVDAs incredible work.
Publicity Officer - Liam Joyce
As someone with zero experience of sustainable volunteering BVDA has opened up my horizons in ways I couldn’t have envisaged at the start of last year. Over the 7 weeks I spent in Samaali in Uganda carrying out WASH-focused construction and teaching, I was able to challenge myself whilst at the same time developing as a person and meeting and shaping the lives of incredible people. I strongly believe that the best part about BVDA is the emphasis on strong engagement with the village community. Collecting water in the evening and having the whole community wave and say ‘mulembe’ (hello in lugisu) to me, is just one example of this and something I will never again be able to experience. Being able to dance at the water source to the tune of jerry cans being used as drums by various village children is yet another example of just how far we integrated into the community. My role this year will consist of making sure that the BVDA name is spread as far and wide as possible, organizing information sessions and regularly updating all social media pages.
Publicity Officer - Kirsten May
In my second year I moved in with a girl (Sophie Buckle) who had been to Uganda with BVDA the previous summer. Her enthusiasm for the work she had done and the likeminded people she had made friends with led me to apply myself. What started as a venture I knew little about initially turned out to be one of the best things I have achieved at university and something I can easily recommend to others. The time I spent in Malawi was incredible; the opportunity to meet new people, travel and experience such genuine cultural exchange while at the same time actually do something beneficial and sustainable is something everyone should reach for. Also the instagram opportunities are great to start a conversation about international development - quite fitting that I’m the publicity officer really! All jokes aside BVDA really is a great opportunity to make even a small, grassroots difference and broaden your horizons.
Access Officer - Lottie Green
(I'm the one with the orange bag!) I first signed up for BVDA at the fresher’s fair along with many other eager freshers. Talks were held in the halls next to mine and after listening to previous volunteers explaining their experiences I was convinced. After successfully applying, the training meetings came round quickly; it was great to spend an hour a week discussing international development with such likeminded people. Our experience with local Ugandan NGO Little Big Africa (look them up, LBA is an AMAZING charity) was simply extraordinary, constantly put in new and exciting situations from a group training week and throughout our six week project in our village, being pushed physically and mentally. LBA and BVDA supported us so well throughout, ensuring the sustainability of our project through monitoring and evaluating at several points during and after the project. But put simply, it was the most incredible summer. BVDA enabled me to have this great experience, and explore my interest in international development in a sustainable and conscientious way.
Access Officer - Nelly Jonsson
I stumbled across BVDA late and quickly became the luckiest person in the world to get onto the Malawi project! BVDA is incredible and has so much to offer, everyone is so lovely and project is undoubtedly an incredible and unforgettable experience. This summer the Malawi team travelled to Nancholi, working closely with our local NGO ‘Nancholi Youth Organisation’ on a social project regarding water, health and sanitation and HIV/AIDS. This year I am going to be one of the new Access Officers, an exciting new role that was created by two girls who visited Malawi the year before me. With a strong passion for gender equality, as Access Officer I will further explore the issues of sexism and gendered violence in the countries you will be visiting and help in training our volunteers to be prepared for situations as best as possible. Our aim this year as Access Officers is also to reach a wide range of new volunteers from all kinds of different backgrounds to make BVDA as accessible as possible for all!