TWOWEEKS News: We are building a house at Lily of the Valley!

August 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

Aside from the usual tasks at hand on our April 2012 trip to South Africa my other focus on the trip was planning for the future and our ongoing partnership with Lily of the Valley Orphanage.

As time has gone on we have rolled out more trips and had more and more volunteers donating their time and sharing their skills with the team at Lily and communities in the surrounding townships. However, as Lily has also expanded, the pressures on accommodation have become more acute and so TWOWEEKS is now building a house there. Our very first TWOWEEKS home that will accommodation both long and short-term volunteers!

Our aim is that this will not only serve as a place for our volunteers to stay whilst they are working at Lily but also serve as a base for this region as requests for help from other volunteers and NGOs has increased in recent months, if not years.

TWOWEEKS has been working with Lily for over six years and our team and volunteers have enjoyed our time working with the staff and volunteers at Lily and within the surrounding communities immensely. We initially started out as a couple of doctors looking after the children at the orphanage but as time has gone on and our remit and vision has developed and extended we have found ourselves being approached by other organisations, charities and NGOs in the Durban region. They have all asked us to assist them with their needs and it is part of the TWOWEEKS vision to work with organisations that have sustainable and ongoing enterprises and reach out to the community.

With our progression and success, issues with accommodation have arisen which have meant we have had to turn volunteers away due to a limited capacity to accommodate them at Lily. So, with this and other issues in mind we would like to address this by building our very own accommodation – our first ‘TWOWEEKS Home’. This will serve as a base for our volunteers to stay in, to assist not only with the children at Lily of the Valley but also with other partners and organisations in the surrounding areas. Our vision is to develop a student volunteer and elective program for students training in different professions. These would initially include medical, nursing and dental students who need experience in a different environment but who could also assist the staff and volunteers at Lily and contribute to sustainable enterprises.

TWOWEEKS HOME REQUIREMENTS

TWOWEEKS now proposes that we build a dedicated home at Lily for future volunteers – both long and short term. We will be responsible for the fundraising to build and furnish this house.

We will seek contributions from elective students and corporate sponsorship to pay for overheads such as running water and electricity so that Lily does not incur any additional costs.

WHAT IS NEEDED?

  • A four to six bedroom home, which can accommodate two people per bedroom
  • Ideally two separate living areas – a lounge and a kitchen/diner
  • Two bathrooms/shower rooms
  • Ideally two rooms with en-suite shower rooms which would be reserved for long-term volunteers
  • Secure storage space/cupboards
  • The property would be located near to other residential sites. We have already started looking at accommodation near to Bushwillow
  • Opportunity to extend the property with a view to accommodating long-term volunteers
  • Areas that enable outside living and relaxation

WHY IS IT NEEDED?

Back in 2010, I was part of a team that had medical volunteers and we did our usual trip into the community to see the sick and dying. One of the people we saw was an elderly lady and her mature son who had severe learning disabilities. He was in his 30s and this poor lady was struggling with his care. She loved her son dearly but found it difficult to ensure that he did not wander away and cause himself harm. He also suffered with epilepsy and so ensuring this added issue did not lead to serious harm caused her to lock him away in a small wooden shed to ensure that he did not get lost and that she could care for him as she herself did not have the best mobility and health.

We obviously were all affected by what we saw and other members of the team had seen similar cases such as this in the community. Other situations became evident when volunteers assisted in the local township schools and saw mature adults with learning difficulties put into corners and left to their own devices (with supervision to ensure that they did not come to harm). However, there was no dedicated therapy or education and so we quickly concluded that a teacher with special needs training and assistance from an occupational therapist would help people in these situations immensely. They would not only provide assistance for the time they were there, but also try and impart some knowledge of even simple things that could be done by teachers and parents/carers to help make these individuals lives better.

Remarkably, on our return back to the UK we held an introductory meeting soon after and a teacher with special needs experience attended and expressed an interest in joining the trip going out later that year. However, after all was said and done, there was not sufficient accommodation available at Lily at that time and we were unable to utilise this lady’s skills. It was an opportunity lost and it was at that stage that we realised that if we are to continue to develop what we are doing and expand, we need a more long-term solution for our accommodation and storage of equipment. Lily has their hands full feeding and providing for their 126 children and we have all felt the effects of the recession so money to build further accommodation is limited. We have decided to do it on their behalf and raise the money ourselves.

We have the site and land set aside for us and we also have the plans and vision of building a 6-bedroom property. Now we need £10,000 to complete it. Please join us in completing this task so that more people can go and help.

Any ideas or extra pairs of hands to help us with our cause would be very much appreciated.Join us and turn this house into a home, a TWOWEEKS home.

Karen Patten | karen@twoweeks.org.uk

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TWOWEEKS 2012 Fundraising: Connie’s marathon experience

June 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

We posted on the blog in April about Connie Lowe’s wonderful fundraising efforts for TWOWEEKS. Well, she ran the marathon on the 22nd of April in an impressive 4 hours 24 minutes and 13 seconds and she had an absolute blast doing it.

“Being a first time marathon runner I didn’t know what to expect particularly during the last 10km as I had never run that far before. It was painful towards the last half an hour, I was on the brink of wanting to walk it, but I persevered and ran all the way. I had a lot of fun, the crowd were very supportive, and it was an amazing experience to run around London and to see all the historic landmarks.

It was rewarding to run with a purpose, knowing that I had the support and encouragement of my friends and all the people who had kindly donated to TwoWeeks. I am so happy to have had the opportunity to run on behalf of TwoWeeks – I would do it again and encourage others to do the same!”

Connie is a fantastic example of the type of volunteering and fundraising that TWOWEEKS is always looking for more of so if you’re interested in getting involved, please get in touch.

Connie’s fundraising page will be open until September so please lend your support. Every little bit means the world!

Connie Lowe is running the London Marathon for TWOWEEKS

April 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

Every year TwoWeeks sees wonderful people volunteering their time, energy and enthusiasm to help us fundraise. One of our latest supporters is Connie Lowe, who will be running The London Marathon on Sunday 22nd April to help raise money for TwoWeeks. We asked her to share a few words. If you would like to donate to TwoWeeks in aid of Connie’s fantastic commitment then please do so here.

What you do Connie?

I work and live in Auckland, New Zealand.

How did you get involved with TwoWeeks?

I was introduced to TwoWeeks by a friend who informed me the charity needed a finance volunteer.  I went to one of the introduction sessions and was inspired by how people were using their skills and their vocation to help children at the Lily.  I have enjoyed my time working as a volunteer for TwoWeeks and I have made some great friends along the way too.

How are you feeling about the upcoming marathon?

I am excited to be running my first marathon, but instead of running it for personal fulfilment I thought I could use my marathon entry to help somebody or something and TwoWeeks immediately came to mind!  To finish the marathon would be a nice personal achievement but to know that someone’s life could be impacted or changed is even more rewarding.

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