Jesper Lejfjord and David Jonsson are two young entrepreneurs and the founders of the Swedish organisation World Volunteer. Based on their experience with volunteering and managing education projects in the Lao PDR, they have formed a net of invaluable contacts, on which the foundation of World Volunteer is built. The organisation is based in Stockholm, but with staff in five different countries.
World Volunteer tailors suitable volunteering experiences for people of all ages within a wide range of projects, e.g. teaching, child care and sports coaching. If you want to volunteer at a project it can be adapted to suit your requests, no matter if you are a family looking for an adventure, or a business leader in need of a new challenge. This way, World Volunteer and its partners are able to provide a once in a life time experience for any type of volunteer as well as creating a lasting impact on the community.
Now the organisation is initiating its second social development project in Laos after last year’s success in building a school in the village of Ban Na Luang, giving 100 children the opportunity for education/to attend school.
“The school building project is like nothing I have done before. It is hard work, but worth every second when you see the smiles on the children’s faces,” says Elizabeth Doernhoefer, SSHL Student and participant in the School Building Project 2011.
The eco-bungalow project is an initiative made possible through collaborations with Tiger Trail Adventures, pioneers within the eco-tourism sector, and the Ministry of Tourism in Laos. World Volunteer will, together with groups of volunteers, start the building of the bungalow in November 2012 in the village of Ban Long Lao Mai, situated one hour outside of the picturesque World Heritage city of Luang Prabang. Ban Long Lao Mai is a Hmong village with just over 700 inhabitants, where approximately 70% have food to last them all year around. The village lies next to a trekking track leading to one of Laos’ most beautiful waterfalls, which is very popular among tourists.
The volunteers will participate in the building, using earthen materials found locally, together with the villagers and experienced guides. The project also gives the volunteers the chance to learn about the rich cultural heritage that Laos has to offer through various activities in the village such as harvesting, bamboo weaving or cooking.
The bungalow will work as an exclusive hotel, which will be owned and run as a business by the village and marketed as part of Tiger Trail’s adventurous trekking tours. In this way, the project creates an opportunity for the villagers to generate an income and also labour opportunities for generations to come through services like cleaning, cooking and guided tours.
“When a CEO gets involved in activities and creates opportunities for people in need, it is hard not to get inspired by the commitment. It´s a lot of fun as well!”, says Charlie Hansson, CEO Chas Management Consulting and participant in the Laos program 2011.
Make a difference
The organisation is always looking for new motivated individuals to take part in the projects, the most important prerequisite being the ambition to help others. There are a number of ways where volunteers can make a difference together with World Volunteer, from own participation, to spreading the word to friends or improving a company’s CSR by funding parts of the project.
“Of course, the most rewarding way, both for the participants and the communities we work in, is to come and work with us in the field during the project”, says David Jonsson, Co-founder World Volunteer.