TWOWEEKS International Volunteer Network is a charity that enables people with a variety of skills to volunteer on a short-term basis. We provide assistance to projects already in existence around the world and aim to alleviate suffering and improve the quality of life for people in deprived areas. We do this by sharing our skills and knowledge with other charities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and people working in the local communities in which our partners are situated. Individuals are required to volunteer for a minimum of two weeks; however, we encourage those who can do so to volunteer for longer periods.
We identify projects and partners around the world where our input would be of assistance, working alongside local communities to achieve sustainable development. We send skilled volunteers to work with established partners in areas of deprivation for a minimum of two weeks. We help people with the desire to volunteer to achieve their ambition to help others. We enable people with a variety of skills to relieve suffering through improved healthcare, education and relief of social deprivation.
TWOWEEKS undertakes three levels of activities:
Volunteers are involved at the initial planning stage of a project and carry out a needs assessment, identifying areas where we can help. By understanding the needs within associated communities and identifying problems, volunteers then work with local charities and organisations with the planning of services, staffing and equipment needs. Volunteers always work with local communities to develop and achieve common aims.
TWOWEEKS volunteers contribute to partner project endeavours by working alongside staff and local people on the ground, sharing skills and expertise. This can involve working on a specific area and fulfilling a particular role, as well as assisting with the day-to- day running of the project. Volunteers work on a personal project and are required to generate a report about their work and provide future recommendations to build on the work that has gone before and that they have done.
Our aim is that our partners and the projects they run will ultimately function without needing assistance from overseas volunteers. To achieve this we share skills with the local community and staff and provide opportunities for teaching and training. TWOWEEKS continuously reviews and assesses our partner projects and their progress to determine when sustainable independence has been achieved.
The TWOWEEKS story began after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, when two friends, Dr Karen Patten and Dr Preethi Venkatesham, tried to volunteer on a short-term basis. They were refused for a variety of reasons, in particular the length of time they were available to volunteer was considered too short. So despite the obvious need, they were unable to assist.
The desire to volunteer remained and they became increasingly aware of a similar need among friends and colleagues, who had the same ambition to volunteer and who had also experienced difficulties in doing so. They persevered and in 2005 went to work with Lily of the Valley, an orphanage in South Africa, returning with a bigger team of volunteers in 2006. This team included Dr Patricia Rijsenburg and Dr Samina Shah, who became trustees and TWOWEEKS was formed.
We want TWOWEEKS to not only help those in need, but also those who wish to volunteer. Our ultimate aim is not to be a solely UK-based charity , but to be truly international. We want to make it easier for individuals to volunteer so that one day there will be enough volunteers from all parts of the work to assist with projects at our partner sites for 52 weeks of the year. It is also our aim to promote and support the wealth of knowledge and expertise present in the very countries and communities in which we work.