Chatting with: Bristol Volunteers for Development Abroad (BVDA)


By Amelia Shoebridge Online Travel Editor

Amelia Shoebridge interviews BVDA committee members, Eve Morrison, Rowena O’Donnell and Chrissy Lightowler, who share stories of their time volunteering abroad, an experience they recommend to all.

What is BVDA?
We are a student led charity/society, focused on responsible, sustainable volunteering operating since 2001. We have worked in India, Malawi, Uganda, Nepal and as of 2019 we will be in Ghana too.
We run as a non-profit, student led organisation, we are transparent about where the money raised from volunteers goes, all of it is used to help the local community’s and donated to our partner charities operating in the field.

What projects do you work on?
For all placements we work in teams of six people, in Uganda and Nepal our work is focused more on the construction side. Building roads and smoke pits is a main part of our mission in Nepal whilst also teaching about water sanitation and implementing our WASH programmes.
In Uganda we construct water sources, teach water purification to church and women groups and set up committees to ensure that the positive work we carry out sustains long after we have returned home.
Our programmes in Malawi and Ghana engage with social issues, such as teaching about HIV awareness, running empowerment workshops for women and children and engaging with the youth both educationally and socially.

BVDA: Uganda

What have volunteers enjoyed about the programmes?
The satisfaction of living simply for a few months, cooking on fires and having the moon and sun as your source of light. Getting to know yourself more, feeling comfortable with challenges and over-coming barriers to reach success. You become a part of the local community, learn from each other and experiencing a culture so unlike your own is enrichingly insightful and gorgeous.

If people are worried about costs, this is one of the cheapest ways to volunteer and travel abroad, there are no program fees, just the expenses of accommodation and food which is cheaper than a week of socializing in Bristol!
To raise money for the charity we get volunteers to raise fundraisers, from charity bake sales to club nights and everything in between! This might sound daunting, but all of the committee and your fellow volunteers are here to support you and we have never had a past volunteer not manage to raise the amount needed!

Once you have finished your six to eight-week placement, many volunteers choose to go travelling exploring the continents they are in. when you return you become part of the BVDA family where we host socials and talks on international development. Doing a BVDA summer program is a great way to meet likeminded people who care about similar issues to you and share a thirst for exploration.

If volunteering abroad sounds like your cup of chai tea, then go visit their website at where you will find the application forms and more information.

Featured image: BVDA

Have you been on a BVDA trip? Let us know!

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