Volunteering abroad with Warwick Global Brigades
Image: Warwick Global Brigades

Volunteering abroad with Warwick Global Brigades

Global Brigades is one of the best experiences one could ever have, and this is not a bold statement. The programme gives its participants the opportunity to use their technical skills to create an impact, while simultaneously immersing themselves in the culture and language of the country. This is just an addition to the core of what the Legal Empowerment Brigade and the Engineering Brigade in Honduras aim to achieve.

After arriving in Honduras, all of your stereotypical misconceptions will be eradicated straight away. Honduras is a beautiful country with rich culture and mesmerising landscapes. Your first impressions when meeting the Global Brigades team at the airport will be incredible. They are the most sincere and welcoming people you will meet.

I decided to choose the Engineering Brigade offered by Warwick Global Brigades and I couldn’t have made a better decision

– Bella Brant, Volunteer

On her experience volunteering in the Engineering Brigade in 2018, Bella Brant said that: “Volunteering has always been something I enjoyed doing and I felt I was ready to go further afield by working abroad. I decided to choose the Engineering Brigade offered by Warwick Global Brigades and I couldn’t have made a better decision.”

Warwick Global Brigades is a student-led Chapter for the sustainable development non-profit: Global Brigades (GB). It uniquely implements a holistic development model to meet a community’s health and economic goal, and the programme model utilises the flexibility and skill-sets of students to provide the appropriate service for their different programmes. It follows a series of core values that separates them from short-term relief agencies and voluntourism projects. The community is the centre of their mission for empowerment and long-term sustainability.

The programme is not exclusive to engineering students, all it requires is enthusiasm and dedication for completing the programme’s task

As a Global Sustainable Development and History student, the Engineering Brigade caught my eye as I liked the idea of doing something practical and where my sustainability knowledge fit best. The task was to design a domestic water distribution system in ‘La Presa’, a 200+ person community where only one running, clean-water tap existed. Through site-assessments, surveyance and a cost-assessment, we completed the design proposal for the water system which we then presented to the community’s water council and residents. The proposal was passed immediately by the council and local mayor. Within 6 months the water system was built in La Presa by one of GB’s Water Brigades, and financed by the community-budget and donations from students who attended the water brigade!

My time in Honduras was incredibly special. Eight of us from Warwick joined forces with ten students from the University of California-Irvine. We bonded from our first day and designed something incredible! Working with student engineers who majored in all variations of engineering was particularly notable and worked well for everyone’s strengths. The programme is not exclusive to engineering students; all it requires is enthusiasm and dedication for completing the programme’s task!

Rija Ahmed, commented on  her experience volunteering in the legal empowerment brigade in 2019: “Your week may consist of doing impactful work such as going around a local community and interviewing the local people regarding their legal issues. You will have the opportunity to open a legal clinic and shadow real Honduran lawyers and with the help of Spanish translators, you will learn about the hardships people were facing every day and exactly how you can help.

You will see how the local people not only regain the trust they once lost for lawyers, but feel extremely rewarded knowing you were able to be a part of the hard and life-changing work the lawyers are voluntarily doing already for their community members

– Rija Ahmed, Volunteer

“As the week progresses, you will begin to engage more with your role and empowering the community. Whether it’s presenting anti-bullying workshops and interactive role-play games with primary school children, or conducting discussions with the adults about domestic violence, your work will make a difference to the community. Towards the end of the week, your final task may consist of learning the Honduran law itself and creating resources to teach the local community members about how they can solve many of their legal issues themselves. This involves giving presentations on topics such as land registration, marriage certificates, wills and even contract law.”

Overall, the experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You will see how the local people not only regain the trust they once lost for lawyers, but feel extremely rewarded knowing you were able to be a part of the hard and life-changing work the lawyers are voluntarily doing already for their community members. Thus, the Legal Empowerment brigade is something for anyone who is interested in volunteering abroad, in the interest of aiding in the provision of legal advice and legal knowledge to communities that lack access to legal aid. And the best part is, it is not only open to law students! So, if you’re ready for an all-encompassing experience, then you’re ready for Global Brigades.

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