Inspirational and humbling.

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!

Beth Sarlo

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Volunteers -TEFL- The way forward.

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:

  1. A structure for introducing  vocabulary
  2. A bank of ideas for purposeful interactive activities.
  3. A list of strategies for classroom management.
  4. 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.

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Teaching Conversational English

Today,  I want to begin a journey into how we might  support our  volunteers with the teaching of conversational English.

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:

  1. Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA)
  2. 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!

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Volunteers and the cost of placements.

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.

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Welcome home Helen.

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.

Helen and Martin with students from the college

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Foreign & Commonwealth Office: LOCATE Programme

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.

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