A word from the president: Project Cape Town & beyond

‘It’s a wrap, people!’ Those are the words that mark the end of one stage in film making, and lead up to the next. The cameras have been packed away, our hostel has sent us on our way and our time in South Africa is up. but we’ve achieved what we were here for: our group of starting film makers has been able to shoot gripping films about Cape Town’s volunteer industry. With everything behind us, I can say that I look back at Project Cape Town with a feeling of satisfaction and pride. And faced with the future, the question ‘where to next’ resounds at the same time. I will use this space to dedicate a few words to my gratitude and our visions of the future.

With flying colours

Starting with awe and grattitude, Project Cape Town has been quite a handful. The idea to imagine voluntourism stories in a foreign land is commendable, but the vastness of the barriers that had tobe avoided while putting this idea into practice only became fathomable when the project was underway. At this point I have to honour our Dutch participants’ flexibiliy and ability to adjust. Dropped in a new country, they faced a double task. Not only did we want them to understand the South African story, we also wanted them to make that story understandable for those back home. They’ve completed both tasks with flying colours.

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At the same time, we demanded yet another form of adaptability from our South African participants. They too faced a massive culture shock, as they we’re suddenly integrated in a Dutch production unit. With our ideas and expectations, we often tended to decide to take certain directions, and our local participants’ knowledge and technical know-how have been the extraordinarily valuable in navigating rough terrain. The same has been true of the skills and experience that our cooperating local film makers have shared with our volunteers. In the next few weeks you will find more about them on our website.

Welcome relief

Help is often offered unexpectedly. When looking for work space, English One Language School surprised us with their offer to open their centrally located, state of the art facilities to us. The team of three surprised us again several times with the patience they had towards our shenanigans, as we consecutively overloaded their internet, caused a network meltdown and were able to remain alone in the building on Friday afternoon with a front door that couldn’t be closed.

Material help has also made a difference: although some of us forgot to slap on the sunscreen – with lobster-coloured results – the DEET and sunscreen of DeOnlineDrogist.nlwere welcome additions that made our stay comfortable. The financial aid we received from the Amsterdam Foundation for the Arts (AFK) made it possible for us to pay for Brechtje Boeke’s presence, a factor that saved us from doom on several occasions. Furthermore, we at Volunteer Correct are happy with the help that the film “Making a Difference” has received through Cinecrowd: we are convinced that this long documentary will be able to serve the foundation’s goals.

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Towards the future

Life is a game of give and take. Now after the chaotic shooting period, the rollercoaster production and regular spots of blind panic, our time of ‘taking’ has ended. But the future will be geared towards ‘giving’. The things we will be able to give can be divided in different categories. One example is the five short films we have published on our website already. For example this video about the dangers of volunteering with children. The next months we present you here with more well researched films and articles.

Another form of the ‘giving’ we are dedicated to, is our participation in the public debate. Last week we have sat in as experts on the panels of several voluntourism events, and we will continue to take advantage of the opportunities to underscore the importance of transparency and accountability in this niche market.

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Additionaly we hope that within two months the documentary “Making a Difference” will premiere, attracting plenty attention for Volunteer Correct. But is that where our responsibility for the health of the voluntourism industry ends? Slowly but surely we’ve started realizing that the answer to that question is ‘no’.

One of the challenges Volunteer Correct is facing, is getting our hard earned information to reach our target audience: prospective volunteers. This we will continue do in at least two ways. Firstly we will make use of our media reach: through our current partners and by developing our network we will keep sharing our story. Secondly we will start targeting high schools. Soon we will start developing a lesson plans for late teens to discuss the dilemmas and paradoxes of international volunteering. Interested schools can contact us.

And what else? We’ve started to consider a destination for our next project, at the start of 2016. All suggestions are welcome. I hope that in the future we will be able to capture your imagination and elicit your involvement.

Reinier J. M. Vriend
President of the Volunteer Correct Foundation

This post is also available in nl_NL.

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