I'm in Uganda at the moment, spending two weeks working in VSO's office in Kampala, helping them develop their advocacy programme. I'll also be meeting up with various aid agencies while I'm out here, including Oxfam, who took me to Uganda for a few days in 2006. When I first started talking to VSO about doing some work with them, I jumped at the chance of returning to Uganda, as I thought I'd be able to make much more of a contribution somewhere where I already knew a bit about the politics and the work of NGOs.
While I'm here, I'll also be getting to know some of the volunteers on VSO programmes, mainly of whom hail from the UK. I do think there's a missed opportunity at the moment, in that we have so many people who've spent time in developing countries with VSO, who must have so much to share by way of experience and knowledge gained, but we don't really tap into that source.
VSO now offers people the opportunity to do short-term placements - i.e. 3 to 6 months - as well as the more usual 2 year contracts. In Uganda the focus is on health (including HIV/ AIDS prevention), disabilities, and participation & governance. I'm sure there are lots of people who are interested in, or involved in, politics in the UK who'd be able to make a real contribution to the latter programme. So if there are any disillusioned lobbyists out there - get in touch! www.vso.org.uk