Sunday, December 12, 2010


Yesterday, my older sister, Monique, made me aware of the fact that most people would not know what CUSO-VSO is or what I am doing with them. Here are some background facts.

Early this year (February, 2010), after lodging an initial application, I was invited to attend an assessment day, an important part of the recruitment process, on April 29th. Thereafter, I was selected as a volunteer to serve in the Singazongwe District in Zambia for 6 to 12 months. Because this is a new placement, the coordinators have assigned a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to me, which would entail  compiling information about capacities, resources, assets, after first meeting with the planning officers of the district, and identifying opportunities for improving poverty and strengthening capacities. Six months is a good time frame to gather information and then begin prioritizing. Subsequent plans will likely come from the initial six months. My placement assignment includes finding and compiling a list of large funding sources, such as major aid foundations, government aid agencies, that could be drawn on to fund future urban and community planning projects that arise from both the SWOT analysis and meetings with the planning officers.

CUSO-VSO spends about CD $30,000 to send a volunteer overseas, and being a non-profit, volunteers are asked to take some responsibility for collecting at least $2,000 through fundraising. This is the reason many of you are being notified of these blogs. I, for one, like that I am being given responsibility for my placement.

My fundraising strategy is to break the tactics down into three segments. The first is to approach and secure donations from my family, circle of friends, and through my media social network. Those connected to these networks should expect to get regular updates of my progress. The second segment is to canvass people in my community to introduce residents to the work that CUSO-VSO does and to potentially recruit future new volunteers from America into CUSO-VSO. Finally, I plan to do a presentation that showcases my experience after returning from Zambia. It will include information about the work that we, in the Sinazongwe District, did and, of course, introduces residents to the culture and people of Zambia.

More information about CUSO-VSO can be obtained from their website. I created a link, which is positioned to the left of this blog page under "Volunteers". All volunteers are also given the option of setting up a fundraising page through CUSO-VSO, which counts dollars and reports progress.

Meeting dollar amounts is better visualized when I set goals for myself. Thus, for the next six weeks before I leave, I intend to:
  • Speak with 200 people.
  • Seek a minimum of $10.00 (to start) from each person to meet my basic amount of $2,000.
  • Provide incentives to give more (i.e. $50 for a postcard from Zambia with a short note every three months). 
My blog will be up throughout the duration of my placement and I anticipate that people will be motivated to give more as they read the progress made in the Sinazongwe District. My after-placement presentation will also involve raising funds, giving the opportunity to contribute to those who have not already done so.

Beginning Tuesday (December 14, 2010), I will provide details of where to send contributions. At that time, I also hope to have my fundraising page up and running. I hope to hear from many of you.

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