Author Henrik Suikkanen
Wash & Grow! project volunteer, Henrik, shares how he was inspired to volunteer and the benefits of volunteer work.
How I became interested in the Wash & Grow! project
Learnings and inspiration from volunteer work
Benefits of doing volunteer work
Although I am a beginner doing volunteer work, I would like to share my thoughts about the experience.
Volunteering is also a lot about exchange and learning. There are different kinds of volunteer work so it is important to consider how to organise your work so it creates additional value for the project. Personally, I feel that I learned a lot of valuable things about the actual content (sanitation), the local culture and volunteering as a concept. This all makes me a bit better equipped for future endeavours.
As a volunteer and newcomer to any project, it is valid - and valuable - to raise questions. Topics such as whether the resources could be more efficiently or if a volunteer is doing work that a local worker would do better. That said, volunteers are absolutely critical for many kinds of projects.
Short- and long-term benefits
Volunteer work should be a combination of applying your existing skills and learning new ones. For this project, one very practical outcome was a tool built on Google Sheets to help keep track of expenses and budgets in different currencies in real time. By using my existing skills, I was able to add value by creating structured templates for workshop planning and fundraising.
The key for success is to establish longer-term relations between the volunteers and the project as all parties (the volunteer and the project owners) should benefit in both the short and long term. The trip to the field in Makueni was very rewarding but it was only a part of the work.
A long-term benefit for the project is that after returning home, I’ve continued to work on sustainability and continuity aspects to ensure the new ways of ecological dry sanitation can be further developed after the Wash & Grow! funding period ends.
I whole-heartedly recommend volunteer experience to everyone!