Monday, June 30, 2008

Mainstreaming Disability 19 June

Actions our annual Volunteer Conference agreed upon

1.1_Bring up Mainstreaming Disability with Partner Organisations
1.2_For each new project, think about mainstreaming disability
1.3_Report back to Programme Office, and volunteers share experience and ideas
1.4_Be inclusive in our everyday activities
1.5_In each Programme Area (Education, Health, Secure Livelihoods, National Volunteering) feed into VSO mainstreaming disability
1.6_Programme Office to ensure Mainstreaming Disability is mentioned in every Placement Outline
1.7_In every Programme Area Review, check on mainstreaming disability
1.8_Continue activities we have started, including National Volunteering

2.1_Fundraise to increase mainstreaming disability, especially in Rural Areas
2.2_Include People With Disabilities (PWDs) including rural as well as urban PWDs in assessments

(l)What is disability?

(r)Pop Quiz - 1,2, famous PWDs 3, is there a universal sign language? (f)

How do you sign that? (Mng)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

VSO Volunteer Conference '08 - Provisional Agenda

Wednesday 18th June

Depart Ulaanbaatar at 10.15am. Arrive at the camp at the camp at 1.15pm.

Program areas sessions.

Thursday 19th June

VSO Mongolia sessions:

  • Communication: VSO, partners and volunteers.
  • Improving continuity → sharing resources → blogging for VSO
  • VSO policies including the recent document about what VSO can and cannot do.
  • Disability. This still needs to be confirmed but initial ideas are that it focuses on practical things and assessing access. More work on this needs to be done.

Friday 20th June

Success stories, frustrations and solutions to these frustrations.

Q & A

Multi choice sessions on subjects/ projects that volunteers want to share with other vols.

Depart the summer camp at 1.15pm and arrive in Ulaanbaatar at roughly 4.15pm.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Conference Schedule and Agenda

After email/weblog consultation with all of you, and following on from a few meetings with Alison, Ruth and I can now present a very basic schedule for the Volunteer Conference. It is as follows:

Wednesday the 18th of June

Leave on train departing from UB or Darkhan mid morning – handily the Equal Step Centre is on the train line between UB and Darkhan.

Arrive at Equal Step Centre at 13:30 (both the train from Darkhan and the train from UB arrive at almost the same time). The Centre is a short 10-minute walk from the local train station.

After settling in and having lunch this probably leaves us with about 3 hours of workshop time.

Thursday the 19th of June

Full-day of workshops (9:30ish-5:30ish)

Friday the 20th of June

Depart for home at 13:30 (handily the trains to both UB and Darkhan depart at almost the same time). For those that want there may be a possibility to stay on at the camp for the weekend – Ruth will send an email with details nearer the time.
After taking into consideration the time we need to pack up, eat lunch and then walk to the train station, we are probably looking at about 2 and a half hours of workshop time this day.

I hope that is ok with everyone. A few people were not keen on having three days of workshops, so we’ve gone for having one full day of workshops and two half days either side. Others were not keen on the idea of having a conference that would eat into the weekend. We should be back in UB and Darkhan by early evening on the Friday, so the weekend is free for those who want it. Get back to me if you’ve got strong feelings about the dates/times.

AGENDA – your help needed! The two sessions that will definitely happen are the programme area discussions (which should take half a day) and the Q&A session between volunteers and the programme office (which will probably take 1 and a half hours). But we need to put more things on the agenda!

Do you have any ideas of topics that we should be talking about, or do you have any experience/training that you would like to share with other volunteers? Sessions can be just for volunteers, or can include the VSO staff as well. It’s up to us to decide what we want to do.

It would be great if you could leave ideas/comments on this blog entry. Just clink on the ‘comment’ link below. If you experience some problems with this then please don’t hesitate to communicate by email (my email address is I’ll then post the comments up on this blog if you want.

I hope that’s clear, but get back to me if you want something clarified. All the very best, take care of yourselves,


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Choosing the Venue for Vol Conference 2008

With the time limit against us (we need to book the venue quickly), I think it's best if we narrow the choice down to two - although please email me if you're unhappy with this method. Thus, we can either go for last year's choice, Bayan Khongai Camp, or an alternative option given by VSOer Ruth Richardson. Please have a look at the options below and get back to me with your feedback (either using the 'comment' facility below or emailing me at

Option 1: Bayan Khongai Write-up borrowed from David Whitworth (thanks David!).

A typical ger camp layout with accommodation gers, sleeping 4 to a ger, grouped around a larger restaurant ger. With 38 of us, we will most probably have the whole camp to ourselves. That should destroy the silence!!!!

This camp is near the top of a hill, 1 hours drive from VSO to the north west of UB. The off road bit to the camp is a little rough but mercifully short, passing by farms growing potatoes and other veg.
Showers and toilets are housed in the end section of this new-ish looking block. The new block also has houses a smart bar which we can use a conference room when we all need to be together. The restaurant ger is large enough to take us all at one sitting.

Loads of space outside, including a hard court for ball games. Depending on the weather, most of the meetings etc can be outside.

Option 2: Equal Step Camp Write-up by Ruth Richardson

The camp is located in Tov aimag near Batsumber soum. The camp is set in beautiful countryside; surrounded by the Mongolian steppe and besides a river. It is possible to drive there in about 3 hours but the road is a little difficult. However, the camp is located on the train line to Darkhan so it would probably make more sense to take the train which also takes 3 hours. There are three buildings providing dorm accommodation for potentially more than 60 people. There is also a main building/ conference type room (which is shown in the above picture).

The facilities are basic; drop pit loo’s (but clean), pumped water for kitchen use but for washing it will be collected from the river. There is a basic shower facility. An experienced chef can prepare all our meals. As the food will have to be brought to the camp it means we can have total control (if we want) over the menu.

The huge selling point of this venue is that all the revenue after covering costs will be used to provide street and working children an opportunity to come to the camp this summer.
The summer camp is organised by a Mongolian charity called the Equal Step Centre. The Equal Step Centre was established in 2002 and since then has assisted hundreds of Ulaanbaatar’s poorest children, many of which are homeless, child labourers or have been abused. The summer camp gives these vulnerable children the opportunity to leave behind their harsh lives in the city and enjoy their adolescence in a safe and supportive environment. The children are engaged in lots of activities such as dance, singing, swimming, sports, nature walks and educational classes.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Revamping the Vol. Room.

Big thanks to Jonathon for the 50% increase in the computing facilities. CD/DVD burner being looked at and a head set for Skype.

A collection of ideas for the Vols Room gleaned from members responses seemed to come down to one thing

Make it more comfortable!!!!.

On this one we could

Have a general tidy up and kick out (I enjoy throwing stuff away!!! I volunteer myself for this job!!!!! Going over the top on Saturday!!))
Mend the broken chairs or ditch them.
Repair very dodgy wall socket
Buy some blankets.sleeping bag for over nighters
Lay new floor covering
Repair the table tennis table.
Replace the pot cups with a supply of paper cups ( if you prefer a pot cup, perhaps you could keep you own personnel cup in your locker?)
Get more games, chess etc.

Disco lights and a bar????? What do you think? No, perhaps not too comfortable!!!

Don't be shy, do reply.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Preparing partners and placements


By Margie

That regional groups of volunteers can organize workshops for new partners in preparation for their work with their in-coming volunteers.

Suggested workshop topics

  • what VSO stands for,
  • how VSO works,
  • where VSO is working,
  • working with VSO volunteers,
  • potential issues that may arise while working with volunteers,
  • how to best address issues as they arise
  • best ways to maximize the presence of a volunteer in an organization,
  • expectations setting or leveling-off of expectations,
  • and others?????????

Volunteers may even invite any or all of the existing partners in the area to join during the activity so that they themselves can share their own experiences and/or difficulties encountered while working with volunteers.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Wrap Up

Pic by Linda

In the main, a very happy conference!!! Although the feed back form was crude...a blank piece of paper..... the over all impression of the event was good. Only the toilets and showers came in for a bit of stick!!!

Recommendations for next time.

1. Try not to finish day to quickly

2. Include more plenary sessions

3. Follow up actions, nominate people for actions, (Done)

4. Give feed back

5. More energisers

6. Stricter time keeping

7. More discussion opportunities

8. Involve more people in planning (Humm)

9. National volunteering under represented

10. 2 days is enough