Alex Eastham

Impact: Our Volunteer

Alex, a Business Studies graduate with experience of fundraising and an interest in women’s rights, wanted a placement to help get into international development. Alex’s placement helped her get her current job as a Project Officer for an ethical trade NGO. 

Impact: The Placement

Our partner, Foundation HELP, needed business planning and research assistance with an Ecotourism Initiative. Alex conducted research on pro-poor tourism and helped to compile a toolkit and action plan to guide the development of the project. 

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2Way Development Volunteer: Alex Eastham

Before her volunteer placement, Alex had completed a degree in Business Studies and gained experience working in marketing and fundraising roles within the charity sector. Alex was interested in women’s rights, empowerment and sustainable economic development.

She wanted to volunteer to broaden her knowledge of the development sector and to gain a foothold in the international development careers market. A volunteer placement gave her the opportunity to explore different skills, experience living in a new culture, support positive change at the local level and see the world from a new perspective. 

The Match 

Alex’s skills in business planning, strategy and communications were a good match for Foundation HELP and she joined them in September 2009, focusing on business planning, project implementation, marketing and fundraising. Alex spent her time researching community tourism initiatives and writing practical plans to help the participants in the programme implement their business plans. She was able to visit a range of community tourism organisations working in the field and particularly enjoyed learning about a new area of development.

Impact: Alex’s Career Progression

“I now work in an ethical trade consultancy based in London. I work with brands and retailers to develop projects that improve the lives of workers that make their products all over the world. My placement certainly made my CV a lot more interesting and during my job interview my colleagues were keen to talk about it.  In addition, as my time in Africa was spent learning lots about pro-poor business, this really widened my knowledge of what jobs were out there. I now work with colleagues across Asia and the rest of the world and very much enjoy being part of an international community.”

Quotes

“The most enjoyable aspect of my placement was getting the opportunity to learn about a new area of work, in this case community tourism. I had the time and purpose to look into this area, read up on new things, make new contacts and learn from them which was a really good opportunity.”

“Some of the best aspects of the placement were seeing others' passion and enthusiasm for change - they really wanted to develop initiatives to benefits others but lacked resource to do this effectively.” 

“I'd recommend if someone wants to volunteer they keep an open mind - for example I'd never thought about going to Africa before but now I'm really glad I did.”

“You cannot change the world in a few months but you can ensure your placement has a positive impact and then use the knowledge from your placement as a catalyst for bigger change when you return home.”

2Way Development Partner: Foundation HELP

Alex was placed with our partner Foundation HELP, in Tanzania. The mission of Foundation HELP is to “facilitate and empower the marginalised communities of north-west Tanzania to transform their lives through a sustainable and integrated approach to development.”

Alex joined Foundation HELP’s programme ‘The Serengeti Ecotourism Women’s Initiative’, which aims to develop the lives of marginalised women through pro-poor tourism programmes in the Serengeti region. 

Impact: The Placement 

  • Alex conducted research in to community and pro-poor forms of tourism.
  • She was able to write up business plans, potential itineraries for the tourism programme, strategies for working with community groups, and an analysis of the competitive environment.
  • She also wrote a toolkit for the women’s group, summarising the results of her research, and an action plan to enable the women’s group to take the next step with the project.