Volunteers' Week: The one where BUNACers save the world

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In the spirit of Volunteers' Week, here at BUNAC we're reflecting upon what BUNAC volunteers achieved around the world. Way back in 1962, uni mates Chris and Martin travelled to the USA together, starting their own work and study abroad social club, and thus BUNAC was born. Inspiring volunteer programmes in developing countries, like Sports Coaching South Africa and Volunteer Nepal followed. From saving 150 leopards from extinction to building two greenhouses from 3000 plastic bottles in a children's school, we know that the impact of BUNAC volunteers continues to make the world a better place, and we're not nearly done.  

BUNAC's volunteer projects have been hugely successful and have made a staggering impact worldwide. Just take, for example, the Sports Coaching Project in South Africa. To date, over 40,000 disadvantaged children from more than 100 schools have been given sports and life coaching, with the result of those children stating they felt more positive about life and performing better in physical fitness tests. And the project is only getting bigger. Volunteers use sports such as football, tennis, and rugby to teach important health issues to students. As a result, this has improved knowledge and attitude to HIV and AIDS by 32% on average.Sports has proved to be an effective medium, in fact, combining physical activity with the key messages improves the children's ability to retain the information by up to 80%...

BUNAC's other crucial Volunteer Nepal project has seen volunteers helping build a tank at school to provide clean water for more than 400 children and constructing two greenhouses made from 3000 plastic water bottles. They've also began working on getting a new home set up for children on the streets. 

BUNAC also play their part in saving wildlife too. One of the biggest projects is Wildlife Volunteering in South Africa's Kruger National Park. Sustaining the wildlife in a park the size of Wales hasn't been easy but it has made a huge contribution to the conservation of the wildlife. The initial camera trapping work has now created sufficient awareness of a decline in leopard numbers. The hard work of BUNAC volunteers has contributed to saving at least 150 leopards this year alone. Camera tapping and predator monitoring projects have seen the addition of 20 new cameras (8 of which were chomped by hyenas!), which has made it possible for volunteers to process over 30,000 images and witness activity that is rarely seen by humans. The volunteer base camp also directly benefits the local community with employment opportunities, and the income generated from the volunteer project is utilised for conservation efforts in the reserve concession.

We couldn't talk about saving the world without mentioning the environmental conservation BUNAC have been part of. Thailand is home to one of many BUNAC environment projects, in particular, the Coastal Conservation projects in Phang Nga. People assume that fishing and shipping industries are to blame for rubbish in the ocean, when only 20% of items found in the ocean can be linked to this. The remaining 80% is due to land-based sources, like litter from the public, tourists and industrial discharges. In a recent clean up on the project over 40 bags worth of Styrofoam, lighters and flip flops were cleared. Without the help of this project, the beautiful coastline of Phang Nga would be a sight of floating debris. The locals of the area are often so pleased by the work of our volunteers that they're welcomed into the community and spoilt with local food and hospitality.

BUNAC volunteers, we salute you! 

If you've been inspired to step out of your comfort zone to help others in need, join us on one of our many volunteer projects this year. Email us your questions on enquiries@bunac.org.uk or call 0333 999 7516 for more details.