NZ Volunteer Services Abroad Hosts Informative Partner Forum

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The New Zealand Volunteer Services Abroad (VSA) hosted their first Partner Forum since Covid19 on Friday 16th June which was well attended by over 30 participants from 24 organizations.

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VSA facilitates connection between skilled New Zealand volunteers and organizations across the Pacific, in capacity building partnerships aimed at making positive impact in the community.

The government agencies, NGOs and private sector organisations who attended have either expressed interest in volunteer assistance, have an application in the pipeline or are awaiting volunteers who have been recruited to assist them.

“The aim of this information sharing session was to provide VSA’s local partners with an up-to-date overview of the organization, and the processes they need to observe in applying for volunteer positions,” said VSA In-Country Program Manager, Lagi Natanielu.

The Program Manager’s informative session outlined the finer details of partnering with VSA, and the expectations for all involved.

VSA Program Manager, Lagi Natanielu during her presentation.

Lagi outlined the process involved in  developing volunteer assignments, created in response to specific requests from local partner organisations who have identified specific needs for volunteer assistance.

“Volunteers work alongside a local counterpart to ensure there is transfer of knowledge to our local community.”

Information was shared also on the recruitment of volunteers in New Zealand, and the extensive preparations they are taken through once selected for volunteer assignments.

In July 1963, the first two volunteers in Samoa were teachers at Avele College and Salafai High School.

?Since there, there have been 350 volunteers who have undertaken volunteer assignments in the areas of Education, Health, Tourism, Agriculture and Fisheries, Business and Economic development, Sports, Disability and Community Development to name a few,” said Natanielu.

“Their contribution to achieving the goals and outcomes that are identified locally is to be commended”

Next month in July, VSA Samoa will celebrate 60 years of volunteers in country.

“Their contribution to achieving the goals and outcomes that are identified locally is to be commended,” added Samoa’s Program Manager.

Ruby Spark, one of four UniVols (university graduate volunteer) with Savaii Samoa Tourism Association, shared about her journey and experiences through the recruitment process, and early stages of transition into volunteering here in Samoa.

Nafanua Malele from the Ministry of Agriculture, Quarantine Division spoke wonderfully of her first-hand experience as a local counterpart working directly with a volunteer both remotely and in country. She testified of the value of a successful partnership with a skilled Biosecurity Adviser, who has extensively supported their team over time, and how the volunteer has built the capabilities of the staff in many ways.

“VSA is humbled to be part of making an impact through development in Samoa where partnership is central,” said Natanielu.

“VSA is committed to supporting local partners and volunteers to achieve sustainable and meaningful change for the betterment of our local communities.”

Lagi Natanielu acknowledged the support of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (NZ Aid), who has been the main donor partner over a 60-year long partnership.

“This core partnership for VSA is further supported by the collaborative work between VSA Samoa and the NZ High Commission office in Samoa.”