Social investment volunteering


Before working with CEPA for 3 months Alex had been working at the Scottish Government in Edinburgh. He was keen to contribute to the work of an organisation working in international development whilst at the same time increasing his understanding and knowledge of the relevant issues in this field.

Alex fitted easily into the team at CEPA completing two projects with them. Alex wrote a working paper on micro-insurance which contributed to the institutional expertise of CEPA on this important topic. He also created a database for CEPA which “was essential to the survey work of the team, enabling them to deliver the commissioned project and store and analyse the results of the household survey in the Badulla District of Sri Lanka.”

“My skill set and their team’s skill set were matched well, which was no coincidence since project specifications are designed to match the skills of volunteers with the requirements of Challenges partner organisations.”

Alex’s skills complemented the skills already present in the team meaning “the project was therefore sustainable and wasn’t a replacement for local skills but added a different angle to the team which could be built on for future projects.”

Whilst on assignment in Sri Lanka, Alex was given fantastic opportunities to discover the country. “I was grateful to be invited to many events and occasions while in Sri Lanka, such as the privilege of being invited to family occasions, musical and cultural events and being made a part of the team and its wider extracurricular activities.”

Reflecting on his assignment, Alex said “The Challenges Worldwide pre-departure workshop puts the assignment in context and provides advice on a range of practical issues. If I needed information at any stage I knew I could just get in contact. In Sri Lanka, I also met my assignment co-ordinator at regular intervals during the three months to ensure everything was going well. Thankfully, there were few practical issues when I was on placement, undoubtedly because of the preparation work done by the team before and during my time on assignment. My assignment leader at CEPA, Karin, also provided clear objectives, goals and tasks so that my work was able to have the intended impact and add to the work of the wider team. The assignment made me see a new way of working. With this experience, this has given me a lot of confidence to implement new approaches in future work. Working in a new setting changed my perspective in immeasurable ways.”

Since his return Alex has started his own business. He said “doing the Challenges assignment was integral to making me realise that I could approach the work I do in a different way, providing solutions to specific requirements where there is a need to solve existing technical and analytical problems in new ways”.