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Join in lending a helping hand

As one of the representatives of the Nuorisoasiainkeskus (Nuorten media), I visited the NEXT STEP, an annual exhibition purposely designed for the Finnish high school students as well as all highly motivated youngsters from all cultural backgrounds.


This is a forum whereby certain corporate bodies as well academic institutions from all walks of life, in conjunction with the organizing team, come together to provide all sorts of alternative to the students as a means of orientating them towards the next step ahead. The whole Idea of NEXT STEP is also designed for all sorts of voluntary organizations. For the voluntary organizations, this Exhibition is a means of reaching out to the young people and apparently get them acquainted with their (organizations´) mode of operation and perhaps other interesting things there is.

On this particular NEXT STEP, I was assigned the responsibility of interviewing any of the voluntary organizations that made their present felt at the exhibition. I met up with four young individuals from four different parts of the globe. They have recently just arrived from Botswana, a country situated on the southern part of the African continent. They had given a brief overview of their projects in this African country, and that was the point I met up with Nicole from Germany, Alice from Hong Kong (lives in Switzerland), Heidi from Canada, and Duncan from Scotland, and all humbly accepted my offer for an interview.


Nuorten media: What is Humana (People to People)?

Alice: Humana is voluntary organization founded in Denmark in 1980 with the sole objective of providing voluntary works and other humanitarian services for the people of the developing countries, mostly in Africa, Asia and South America. The headquarters of this organization had since been moved to Zimbabwe in order to facilitate ease in areas of coordination and general logistics; as well as providing the organization a firsthand view of the needs, by living within the environment where helps are needed the most.


Nm: How did you get started?

Duncan: The only requirement needed is motivation. That is to say, any potential volunteer should be highly motivated, and must want to be involved in voluntary humanitarian works in any developing countries situated in Africa, Asia or South America.


N.m: Who are your Target groups?

Nicole: Our target groups are those who needed our help the most. Everyone within this group are those we deal with. We provide help in the area of education and health, and other vital areas that could elevate the livelihood of those we work with.
Duncan: Well, our main project in Botswana was to especially coordinate a program known as T.C.E. (Total Control of Epidemic). This program was fashioned out to cater for those in the risk group, and it´s meant to last three years. Our target groups were those infected with HIV/AIDS. We did not deal with them directly, instead we coordinate the employment and mobilization of the locals to get them involved in the field work, while we gave the necessary instructions. This is the first of its kind and our group was some sort of pace setters in this regard.


N.m: Does your different cultural
backgrounds affects your team works?

Duncan: Not that I know of. We got along pretty well. Perhaps sometimes there could have been a bit of misunderstanding owing to our various language backgrounds. The greatest challenge could be giving instructions to the locals. Even if they use English as official language, it was kind of hard to get certain instructions through.
Alice: sharing space with six people in Botswana for six months was more of a challenge for me than any cultural differences.
Nicole: Language problem was obvious among us, but not as bad as one could imagine.
Heidi: I agree we had certain miscommunication at certain junctures, but not any big deal, it´s natural I guess.


N.m: How did people respond to your various works?

Heidi: We were well received, especially when people knew we were there to impact upon their lives in a significant manner. Even though we did not take part in the actual fieldwork, we still got very positive response from all angles. The people really appreciated our works and gesture.
Duncan: We did our best and I believe the response was in accordance with our work.
Alice: I believe the people showed their appreciation. We were well received.
Nicole: Certainly, the response was that of warmth and heartfelt.


N.m: How many countries have you visited before coming to Finland?

Duncan: I´ve been to Finland once before. That was kind of long time ago. I was only eleven years old, and was visiting along with my parents. I personally haven´t been to any other countries for any voluntary projects before. I believe I´ld love to do this again.
Alice: I´ve taken part in very minor projects for some other voluntary groups apart from Humana. My voluntary works have taken me as far into Asia and South America. I believe I´ll be going to Guatemala after leaving Europe.
Heidi: I haven´t been on any humanitarian mission before. Botswana was my first, and from what I saw, I would love to do this again, sometimes in the future.
Nicole: This is my first time. It was a great experience. I would love to go back to Germany now and then think what may come after this.


N.m: What were your sources of finance?

Duncan: Humana takes the overall responsibility of all the general needs of all volunteers. But, on the other hand, we are required to pay 3500 Danish Kronors to start with. This amount is a sort of fee paid for a six months training program all volunteers must go through in order to be orientated towards the works and challenges ahead in any of the three continents where the organization operates. To raise this 3500 Kronors, we need to get involved in various personal projects of all kinds including selling of art works, raising funds from well wishers etc. All other necessary things needed in the course of discharging our required project, (accommodation, feeding and other things) are catered for by the organization.


Nm: Did you accomplish your set out goals and
objectives?

Heidi: I believe we did our best. This is the first of its kind, we set the pace and those coming after us would perhaps carry the whole project to its set goals.
Alice: I believe as well that our goals as a team had been accomplished.
We did what was required of us, and we did it good to our own satisfaction. I believe that is the bottom line in the final analysis.
Nicole: Yes, we did our utmost best, and we would be glad to know that those coming after us would put in the same enthusiasm so as to take this project to the envisaged goals.
Duncan: What can I say, its all done, and we hope our efforts would certainly encourage any other persons willing to go through this process and lend a helping hand to the needy in the developing countries.


Nm: Would Like to Visit Finland again?

Duncan: Yes! Not in the nearest future though, but I ´ld certainly love
to visit here again.
Heidi: I´ld love to be back. This is my first time here and I liked what I saw, thus I ´ld be back for some skiing trip to the North - Lapland to
be specific.
Alice: I like it very much here, but I´m not sure of coming back any time soon. I have a project in Guatemala, but if all works out well, I might just make it here once more.
Nicole: I believe I might make it here once more. I live here in Europe
and I believe the proximity is good and convenient. I will surely love to
be back, but not in the nearest future.



Frankee Moore 29.01.02
fym@hattu.net

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