Volunteer stories: Hanna's story
Hannah Hames – Project Development Intern
Before starting work at SEED Madagascar I had recently graduated from Bradford University with a BA (1st class) in Peace and Development Studies. In the months between graduating and joining SEED Madagascar I volunteered for several other NGOs including PeaceJam and GlobalGiving UK but was struggling to find an overseas role which didn’t require years of experience.
The PD internship role at SEED Madagascar jumped out for a number of reasons: it promised learning on the job and a the possibility to be involved in a wide range of tasks; it was for sufficient duration that I felt I could really learn something; and it was in a developing country where I could immerse myself in a new culture and could afford to live. I hoped that together these opportunities would provide me with the spring board I needed to build a successful career in the development and humanitarian sector.
The ten months I spent living and working as a PD intern in Fort Dauphin helped me develop confidence and allowed me to learn new concrete skills in writing project proposals and reports and communicating across cultural barriers. The people and internal support system for professional development were encouraging - as long as I proactively asked for what I needed – and I was encouraged to develop my skills in areas of particular personal interest – if it could be accommodated within the project. SEED Madagascar gave me a greater appreciation for the important division of labour between Malagasy and international staff with everyone playing to their strengths: Malagasy staff working on community engagement and direct project implementation and the international staff organising grants, reports and MEL. It also allowed me to meet and work with people from a different culture and to have some fascinating conversations with Malagasy staff about all sorts of issues. On a more social note, SEED Madagascar’s location in Madagascar meant that I was able to visit beautiful places with new friends – including regular weekend and evening trips to the beach – that I would never otherwise have been able to do.
During my internship I particularly enjoyed working as part of a team (with international and Malagasy staff) to develop projects and put together applications for large donors such as UKAID and Gates. The potential impact of this work was significant and these projects allowed me to develop a range of technical skills including budget, logframe, Gantt chart and theory of change development – some of which I didn’t even know I needed before I joined the PD team! I also had fun redesigning the tone of the new SEED Madagascar website, writing project pages and contributing towards the increase in the number of visitors to the website. Most importantly, I found it rewarding to work for an organisation producing meaningful change in the local community.
Overall, my experience interning with SEED Madagascar in Madagascar was extremely useful to my career development – helping me to land a place on the coveted Save the Children Humanitarian Trainee Scheme - as well as being a lot of fun.