Diaspora Volunteering

Diaspora volunteering connects Diaspora communities with their countries of origin through strategic volunteer placements.

Many people in Diaspora communities have a passion for helping their communities back home, and Diaspora volunteering is one of many ways they can help. Sometimes Diaspora volunteering can also counter the effects of out-migration of skilled workers and bring entrepreneurial energy to isolated communities.

The Volunteer Service Organisation (VSO, the U.K. counterpart to Peace Corps) is one international volunteer-sending group that offers Diaspora placements for long-term, stipended assignments. For example, VSO Canada—which accepts U.S. citizens—works with partners to match the skills of Canada’s Diaspora communities with the needs of “under-resourced social development sectors in their countries of heritage. VSO Canada (now called CUSO-VSO) works with people of the Guyanese, Filipino, and Ethiopian Diasporas.

African Foundation for Development (AFFORD) partners with VSO in the United Kingdom to harness the knowledge and skills of the African Diaspora to nurture small and medium-sized businesses in Africa through its Supporting Entrepreneurs and Enterprise Development in Africa (SEEDA) Initiative. (Other ways for members of the African Diaspora to contribute to the development of African countries: Project Diaspora, supporting members of the African Diaspora to support African nations through remittances. Mukuru.com specializes in remittances to Zimbabwe.)

Indicorps is a fellowship program that recruits young professionals of the global Indian Diaspora to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, to serve for one or two years with a grassroots organization. The program aims to nurture social conscious leaders “to transform India and the world.”

People of the Jewish Diaspora have many opportunities through which to volunteer with communities in Israel. Some places to start are the Jewish Coalition for Service, and also the National Council for Volunteering in Israel which lists volunteer opportunities for residents and non-residents of Israel.

Do you know of other international volunteer-sending organizations that focus on Diaspora volunteering? We’d love to hear!

Today, the first 2009 Idealist.org Global Volunteering Fair takes place in Washington, DC, at Google. Check out other fairs this week in New York and Boston. In honor of the fairs, The New Service blog will feature international service programs all week!

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Indicorps – Opportunities for the Indian Diaspora

Indian service program recruits people of Indian family background, from all around picture-15the world, to commit to service in India. Indicorps is now recruiting interns to start January 2009.

Indicorps encourages aspiring young leaders of the Indian Diaspora to engage in intense grassroots development opportunities that explore the promise of leadership and help leverage their skills and talents to address India’s pressing needs.

The organization encompasses several programs, including Volunteer Ahmedabad (VA!), capitalizing on the spirit of volunteerism of Ahmedabad citizens; Ahmedabad Ultimate, promoting the spirit of fair play and competition through Frisbee; and the flagship Indicorps Fellowship Program. The Fellowship emphasizes public service and personal growth, seeking to nurture and inspire a new brand of socially conscious leaders through structured one – and two-year grassroots service opportunities in India.

Interns — who do not have to be of Indian origin — support the “backbone” of the U.S. and Ahmedabad-based Indicorps, strengthening organizational capacity and growing initiatives, and interacting with many people in the NGO sector in India. While not a field-based internship, interns serve a critical role in supporting fellows, encouraging others to serve, and effecting change. The internship offers weekly, structured learning opportunities, an off-site service requirement in a rural community,  and a chance to work across programs.

Interns receive a one-week group orientation (including housing) and assistance in finding housing for the duration of the internship if necessary. The orientation includes an introduction to the city of Ahmedabad and to the NGO sector.

Internship openings right now include:

  • Marketing and brand management: Indicorps seeks a marketing/brand management professional to assist Indicorps strengthen its inspirational messaging in India through Indicorps and related programs.
  • Alumni outreach: Indicorps seeks an individual to help structure an Alumni Association that functions independently, but is closely linked to Indicorps as a host organization.
  • Technology: Indicorps seeks a self-proclaimed technology wizared to help stay on the cutting edge of operating and outreach technology, using its current resources efficiently.
  • Ultimate Frisbee: Ahmedabad Ultimate seeks four coaches to coordinate, publicize, and host month-long summer camps during school summer vacation from April-May 2009. (Internship lasts 5-6 months, through May.)
  • Publications: Indicorps seeks a publications intern interested in helping the organization self-publish an anthology that inspires people through stories of Fellows’s experiences in the field.

Most internships are flexible, unpaid, last 4-6 months, and do not require special visas. (You may still need a visa to enter India.) Read more Frequently Asked Questions. Look for news about 2009 Fellowship applications, coming soon.

Indicorps founder Sonal Shah co-chairs the Technology, Innovation and Government Reform working group for President-Elect Obama’s transition team. She’s an economist and heads Google.org’s global development efforts. Also serving on that working group are Paul Schmitz, Public Allies C.E.O., and Cheryl Dorsey, Echoing Green executive director.

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