Video Spotlight

"'I'm a Health Worker' - Abduaraman Gidi" made by IntraHealth International.

By: 
Catholic Relief Services: Caroline Bishop, Kate Greenaway, Ana Maria Ferraz de Campos, and Alemayehu Gebremariam

Volunteers are among the most important resources we have. CRS has developed a manual to help managers, planners, technical advisors and business development staff plan for, implement and support the integration of volunteers.

“I can’t believe we’ve just finished our volunteer training and now so many volunteers are leaving! They found a “better deal” at this other project that offers a bigger stipend. This is so frustrating.” (Patience Banda, Home-based Care Project Manager)

“We’re working on a community TB-DOTS proposal and we need to submit a budget for the training and support of the volunteers. How do we calculate their workload and how many we’ll need? How many volunteer supervisors will we need? (Tesfaye Kebede, TB project design team lead)

“I just heard that one of our “Expert Clients” [clinic volunteer living with HIV] may have sexually exploited a project client. What should I do?” (Hamidou Traore, HIV Project Manager)

At CRS, we have heard these kinds of questions repeatedly over the years from our field staff. We realized that our volunteers were being recruited, managed and incentivized in many different ways, even within our own agency. Volunteers are integral to the success of many CRS-supported projects; however, standardized guidance was absent. It was time to harmonize our approach to working with volunteers, to ensure that they were receiving the training and support they needed and in turn, that our communities were receiving quality services.

Thus in 2012, after more than a year of consultation, CRS’ Guide to Working with Volunteers was published. It was designed to provide CRS staff and partners with a framework to address programmatic issues surrounding volunteer engagement including volunteers’ roles, responsibilities and rights. Although it was intended as an internal CRS document, numerous other organizations expressed interest in this guide. To that end, we posted it on the CRS Technical Resources website. We are honored to have been invited to share this document with you on CHW Central and hope it will help others to improve support for volunteers!

For the discussion this month, we would like to find out what challenges you face in your organization regarding an equitable approach to volunteers, highlight topics that generated high interest while we were drafting our guide (volunteer agreements, codes of conduct, working tools/incentives and sustainability), and discuss the topics that are of most interest to you. Here are some questions to start the discussion:

  1. What are some of the challenges you face managing and supporting volunteers? What have you done to address those challenges?
  2. If you are currently implementing a project that uses volunteers, what kinds of things do you wish had been incorporated into the original project design and budget?
  3. Does your organization have a guide designed to harmonize your organization’s approach to planning for and engaging volunteers?
  4. If so, what were some of the challenges you faced in writing the guide? In applying the guide’s content?
  5. If not, do you see a need for such a document? Why or why not?

Please share any documents you use for volunteers that would be helpful by including the link in your comment or submitting a resource through the website here and we will upload them for you.

Catholic Relief Services Panel:

Caroline Bishop is a Health and HIV Technical Advisor with Catholic Relief Services with a specific focus on highly vulnerable children. Her background includes eight years in Western Africa, including serving six as a Regional Technical Advisor for Health and HIV. She holds a Masters of Public Health in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a Master Community Health Education Specialist.

Kate Greenaway is a Senior Technical Advisor for Health and HIV with Catholic Relief Services. She is a nurse by profession with over 20 years’ experience in HIV and health programming in low-resource environments. Kate provides leadership and technical advice to strengthen care and support systems at both community and facility levels. Ana

Maria Ferraz de Campos has a Nursing degree and a Masters of Public Health, with specializations in Public Health, Mental Health, Management of Chronic Illnesses and Emergencies and Humanitarian Assistance. Her area of expertise is in designing, implementation and management of programs providing community healthcare.

Alemayehu Gebremariam is based in Bujumbura, Burundi and serves as a Health and HIV Regional Technical Advisor with CRS’ Central Africa Regional Team. Mr. Gebremariam has been working as a public health expert since 1992, with wide ranging exposure to the different health programming areas, including MCH, PHC, and Nutrition with mostly national and international NGOs. He has a Nursing, Sociology, and Master’s degree of Public Health.


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