This message arrived from Beth in Rio
Throughout the year I run into problems that often seem impossible to overcome. Countless are the days when I wonder where the joy of children and youth of the project comes from, as they can be so alive even through serious situations of violence and discrimination, oppression and exclusion. But if some succubi, others rediscover the light and once again have hope, giving me the assurance that the project must continue to exist and the strength to carry it out. And I would never do it by myself!
The project was very good this last year! We ended the year with great joy. Forgive me if in recent times I did not write more to you, but as you well know, we are not many for to many tasks.
But it’s Christmas! And I really want you to know how much of everything that happens here is due to the tireless work you do the hole year. I wish that my joy is your joy and the certainty that I did something good in this world is your certainty as well, deep in your hearts.
I wish the boy who was born in Bethlehem finds home in our hearts, blessing us, bringing peace and joy all the days of our lives, continuing to make us bridges of hope and light for boys and girls we can find in our way.
Lots of love and thank you very much!
Merry Christmas and a great new year to all of you and your families!
You might be wondering what I have been doing since my last post, when I declared the intention to enroll on either a Cambridge or Trinity College EFL course. After considering the respective course syllabuses, the needs of our volunteers and their students, not to mention the near £1000.00 cost! I chose neither and signed up to an on-line course which so far threatens ‘death by English grammar’. If nothing else it will avenge my primary school teachers for my lack of progress with the exercises to be found in in the ‘The Objective book of English’ almost five decades ago !
However the course, coupled with the ongoing study of Portugues and years as a primary school teacher has brought me to the conclusion that we can best support the volunteers and their students by preparing a toolbox that includes:
- A structure for introducing vocabulary
- A bank of ideas for purposeful interactive activities.
- A list of strategies for classroom management.
- On-line support during placements
Please jot any ideas into comments and we will make the resources available to you. The way forward now seems more clear: the power of research, reflection and blogging.
Where to start ?
Maybe I need to experience a course in teaching English to better understand how to help the volunteers. So I began by exploring the acronyms, TEFL, TESOL, EFL, CELTA, TESL & ESL and others offered by an overwhelming number of agencies, and all claiming international recognition and validation.
Further research revealed that the British Council recognise two qualifications as evidence of thorough and rigorous initial training:
- Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA)
- Trinity College London Certificate in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).
Anyone with any experience to share or interest in collaborating on supporting volunteers in this way then please get in touch.
The next step is to find a course!
There are two uncomfortable facts of life for the charity, one is the contribution that we must ask of volunteers towards the cost of their placement and the other is the concern we have that these might be prohibitive for some would be volunteers. We are proud of the high value we place on our Diversity and Equal Opportunities policies and are keen to ensure that this contribution is not a barrier to volunteering.
The charity’s running costs are minimal; made possible by significant ‘donations in kind’ and means that our volunteers can be assured that their financial contribution is used entirely to support the projects and to meet the ‘subsidised’ living costs.
At present we have a bank of fund raising ideas, and offer support to volunteers with sourcing funding agencies and submitting applications, but we would like to do more.
We would be very interested in sharing information and ideas around the funding of volunteers.
Unfortunately, Government funding through the DIFD is not usually available to support projects in Brazil. But today I have gleaned hope from the Government’s declared pro-active approach to developing trade and commerce links with Brazil – outlined in William Hague’s recent Canning lecture.
Good news! The laptop has arrived safely! Our thanks to Helen who has recently returned from her first pastoral visit with Martin and now shares some reflections.
What do you like best about Brazil? That’s the question that came up the most on my trip to Cristino Casto, Piaui, NE Brazil last month.
The people – they were all so kind and hospitable And good to see Martin, the ALVP volunteer, so settled and fluent in Portuguese that he often spoke to me in Portuguese instead of English. The children were beautiful, energetic and curious, full of character.
The Brazilian way of life too – with plenty of time for people, visiting, talking, eating together, and more talking. The climate was hot – I’ve never been anywhere so hot before – 40 degrees while waiting for the bus in the evening in Teresina, reputedly the hottest town in Brazil.
Mass on Sunday – at 7.30pm when it was slightly less hot – doors and windows open and fans going, music, singing, great liveliness together with devotion. And then friends gathering outside in the square to chat when it was over.
The food – Trying manioc pancakes, and different kinds of fruit.
Speaking Portugese – I did enjoy it, having mastered 30 lessons before I set off and having fun practising and people understanding me.
My job as ALVP coordinator has given me the privilege of meeting and sharing the lives of such people and enabling young people to experience that we really are all brothers and sisters in one wonderful, varied world.
We are currently updating our Volunteer Handbook and this morning whilst trawling the Foreign and Commonwealth Office information site I came upon a service they offer called ‘LOCATE’. This service offers those travelling abroad the facility to register their destination and then in the event of a catastrophe embassy staff would be aware of any nationals that might be caught up in catastrophe.
I wondered if anyone has used ‘LOCATE’ or knows of a good reason not to ?
It seems an ambitious goal on the part of the Foreign Office and one can immediately think of instances that might cause the system to fail, but my inclination is to encourage volunteers to register as there is nothing to lose by doing so.