Since 1969, SAFAD has sent over 340 graduate and post-graduate volunteers to almost 40 different countries in the developing world. Here, we find out what our previous volunteers are up to now!
Nick Rowe – SAFAD President and Volunteer in Ethiopia 2007-2008
“Before I started my masters in Community Water Supply at Cranfield in 2007, I was already aware of SAFAD, and became president for a year during my studies. We inherited a healthy list of potential partners, but soon realised that we’d need to expand the pool, and increase fundraising, if we were to be able to send more than a handful of people on placements that year. This was because many of us knew that the without field experience, organisations were less likely to accept you, even with a new degree from a prestigious university. In my case, as I was older than most of my peers and changing career, this experience was going to prove crucial.
We worked hard to fundraise and found some new donors and connected with some larger organisations who were willing to take on inexperienced but motivated trainees – as I recall, we sent eight or more people on placements, including me to Ethiopia for eight months with IRC.
The placement was challenging but valuable, and clearly opened the door for me to my first “proper” roles: first with Médecins Sans Frontières, and then with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). It gave me the chance to apply what I had learned on the course, as well as giving some indication to future employers that I could handle rural field life. More importantly, it helped me understand which aspects of humanitarian work I enjoyed, and the other skills I still needed to develop. I hope I was also of some use to the programme…
SAFAD has always adapted to change over the years and given scores of Cranfield students the opportunity to promote the importance of humanitarian work, and to develop team and organisational skills, even before they reach the field. Those who have taken up SAFAD placements with various NGOs have generally reported having had positive experiences, which gave them a good start to their careers, and I’m no exception. I would encourage anyone at Cranfield to get involved, either with fundraising, finding new organisations for placements, or even going on a placement. The skills and experience gained will prove invaluable, and the challenges rewarding.”
Matthieu Carriere – SAFAD Secretary and Volunteer in Mexico 2018-2019
“I studied Cranfield University’s MSc in Water and Sanitation for Development, after which I had the chance to take up a SAFAD placement with a small Mexican non-profit, Caminos de Agua for 8 months. That was an excellent opportunity to put in practice what I learned during my time in Cranfield and understand from the inside the reality of field organisation. I have been involved in the design and implementation of a novel filter able to remove Arsenic from groundwater alongside community members as my main project. I have also participated in various other aspects, such as community organisation, fundraising and communications. After my placement, I was hired as long-term member of Caminos’ staff, as the coordinator of the team I was a part off.
Being able to participate in SAFAD’s graduate placement scheme has been a key factor in my early career, providing valuable professional experience as well as allowing me to evaluate my professional environment, to see if it matched my expectations before taking a long-term commitment.
I’d definitively recommend SAFAD to every student who is remotely considering working in the non-profit sector! “
Lucy Whitley – SAFAD Volunteer in Uganda 2018-2019
“In 2018, I completed an MSc in Water and Sanitation for Development at Cranfield. I was lucky enough to be offered a SAFAD placement to support GOAL, an international NGO, in Uganda. I was involved in all areas of a WaSH programme – constructing boreholes for domestic water supply, improving sanitation and hygiene facilities for communities, implementing operations and maintenance pilot studies, and much more.
Every day, I was able to put my academic and theory-based learning from Cranfield into practice on the ground to support communities who suffer from a limited access to vital resources.
Having developed these skills through this SAFAD project, I have continued in the humanitarian sector working on water supply projects in Bangladesh, South Sudan, and Sierra Leone. Now, I am now back at Cranfield University working towards a PhD in Resilient Water Infrastructure. The SAFAD programme gave me invaluable experience and professional opportunities to develop my own skills and career.”