victoria fallsIn a few weeks SourceConnection (SC) will send out a new volunteer to Zambia to monitor the progress of our Agricultural Sustainability project. And this year the volunteer will be me: Pauline Thijssen, board member of SourceConnection. Throughout this blog I would like to share with you why I have decided to volunteer, what my expectations are and what I seek to accomplish during my time there.

Why did I decide to leave my job in Amsterdam and travel all the way to Zambia?

Firstly, I am a board member of SourceConnection and therefore have been closely involved with the organisation for a while now. Picture1However, what is missing forme as a board member is that direct contact with what is going on in the field. I find it of great added value to obtain first hand experience because in this way I will be able to offer better consultation to SC. Secondly, like my predecessor Nienke Raap, I first and foremost seek to witness and learn. Being at the start of my career I seek to build upon my intercultural communication skills and project management skills. I see this mission as a challenge and as a great opportunity for myself to combine my skills and educational background with the passion I have for our cause. Because if there is one thing that drove me towards SourceConnection and the decision to volunteer, is that I strongly believe in our vision. Just to remind you: SourceConnection emphasises the power of education and knowledge dissemination. What sets us apart as an organisation is that we don’t offer products or resources to Zambian farmers, but that we seek to encourage and accommodate their capacity to become more self-sufficient and thus less reliant on Western aid institutions.

So what do I seek to accomplish and what challenges might I face in achieving those?

As I hinted towards earlier a challenge is that my knowledge of Conservation Agriculture is limited. However, my passion for the principles of SC is great. What I have set out to do as a volunteer is to evaluate our project critically, motivabirds africate the farmers involved and create new linkages where I see them. What will help my in accomplishing this is that as a Board member of SC I am aware of the project its current strengths and shortcomings. Moreover, I hold direct access to a crucial supply of information; that of the Board members themselves and that of the previous volunteers who have went. As the next volunteer, I will build upon their prior work and revitalise ties that have been established in the past. Thereby, I will seek to create new linkages with other organisations and individuals that might be willing to cooperate and further the success of our Agricultural Sustainability project.

As both a recruiter and a humanitarian, encouraging and inspiring people to realise their aspirations is what I find most fulfilling.

 

This project fits my professional aspirations because what is essential to the success of SC and my mission as a volunteer is facilitating a platform in which Zambian farmers unite and share their knowledge regarding Conservation Agriculture. We do this through organising peer to peer trainings. During those trainings we seek to encourage farmers to work in a more sustainable way but most importantly, we seek to enable them to realise their own potential as farmers who are self-sufficient and successful.

Knowing that my role in overall progress will be very small, I believe that becoming part of a movement like this, a movement which inspires confidence, ambition and peer to peer learning is a great step towards more progressive thinking in development.   

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