Volunteering impact: from Northern Ireland to Tanzania

Tools For Solidarity (TFS) has three basic aims which I will use to talk about the organisation’s promotion of values like solidarity and inclusion and how what I do is having an impact on the lives of people in my local community and further afield.

The first aim we have is providing people, communities and projects in sub-Saharan Africa with basic hand tools and sewing machines so that they can practice their skills and improve the quality of their own and their community’s life. My work towards achieving this aim is repairing sewing machines and preparing them for shipment to projects in Tanzania, the impact this has is obvious, people who receive machines from us have the chance to establish small co-operative and community businesses which benefit not only them but also their local communities. Not only is this an example of the direct positive impact of the work we do in TFS but it’s also an example of how we actively partake in international solidarity work.

Our second aim is to raise awareness throughout Northern Ireland about the issues of sustainable development within our own society as well as in the so called Third World or Majority world.  We do this mainly through our Education for Sustainable Development programme which involves going into schools and talking about issues such as inequality, poverty, exploitation of natural resources and fairtrade over a number of sessions. The point of doing this is to encourage kids to question how things are done and to think about how they can change them. We hope that, in providing kids with the tools to think about these issues, they can then go out and make positive change of their own in the world.

Our final aim is to provide opportunities for people in Northern Ireland to participate in worthwhile and valuable work. TFS is particularly committed to working with all sections of the community in Northern Ireland and to focus on providing sheltered placements for people with special needs and those normally excluded from being able to contribute to society in a positive way. My contribution to this is supporting volunteers with special needs who work on treadle refurbishment and sewing machines. This is a way in which TFS promotes inclusion and changes the lives of individuals within our local communities.

Tools for Solidarity is an organisation that is committed to changing the world for a better place through solidarity and inclusion on both local and international levels.

Story written by Ruska Landy, volunteer with Tools for Solidarity. Original article publish on VSI Ireland website.

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