Naturally Africa Volunteers – Our background
Naturally Africa Volunteers was established and is run by Marc Crouch and Felicity Milligan. Between them they have over fourteen years of experience working with volunteer organisations and have visited hundreds of projects worldwide.
They previously held senior positions with a Gap year and volunteer travel company in the UK, which provided them with invaluable knowledge of working with volunteers and project operators. This experience included an understanding of what was important to volunteers and areas such as customer service, risk assessment and management.
However, they both felt they wanted to be a little more actively involved in helping the projects to achieve their goals and the work that was being done on the ground. They left their jobs, bought a Land Rover and drove from the UK to South Africa, working with local organisations and volunteer projects en route. They were so impressed and touched by some of these that they were keen to find a way to assist them further in achieving their objectives. When a few of these organisations approached them about the possibility of forming a partnership Naturally Africa Volunteers was born.
However, Marc and Felicity were not ready to return to the UK immediately. They were invited back to Malawi by a local organisation to help with the management and development of its volunteer programmes and they agreed to return for 6 months. The time that they spent at the volunteer projects in Malawi was incredibly rewarding with significant potential to improve standards of living for the local communities. Some projects, such as malaria prevention and education, were even reducing death rates and the incidence of disease.
The experience that Marc and Felicity gained on the ground was also very valuable to them personally, as it gave them an insight into the daily challenges of operating the volunteer projects and managing groups of volunteers effectively. Having completed the drive back to the UK through Central and West Africa they have put this to good use in the model that they have adopted for Naturally Africa Volunteers.
Naturally Africa Volunteers now supports a small network of locally operated volunteer projects across Africa. This partnership is very much based on co-operation, trust and open communication. This is also reflected in the approach that has been taken to recruiting volunteers. The focus is on establishing a community that each volunteer can become a part of and hence sharing the responsibility of achieving long-term objectives.