“For me VCA was an entry point to the nonprofit sector”

Rose Gill about her first experiences as a volunteer

“It started with a meeting at Cybersoek, I came there by chance to a weekly meeting to learn Dutch. Melita Bacic from VCA told the group about volunteer work and the VCA services. I told her about my work as a women right activist in Pakistan.”

Meeting
“I moved to Holland with my husband who is Dutch. I had no social contacts, no network and had no clue where to begin. I wanted to continue the work I did in Pakistan. Melita showed me the vacancy database and she invited me to come to a meeting of the Vluchtelingen Vrouwen Raad (Refugees Women Council) two weeks later, to get in contact with women right organizations in Amsterdam.”

“In this Council a number of organizations comes together. I met this group of women in Amsterdam West and told them about my skills and experience and they said: You are hired! That is how I got in this sector. It was my breakthrough.”

I told them about my skills and experience and they said: You are hired!

Mindset
“I started volunteering as a project leader at the African Women Perspective. I helped manage a project called ‘Veranderende rollen en verhoudingen’ (Changing rolls and relations). The project wanted to start a debate with men about gender stereotypes. How can we change their mindset? I wrote a play about this subject. The play was one of the communication tools to reach the men.”

“I also saw the need of a better online presentation of this organization so I managed their online presence including a new website. I have this kind of experience through my work in Pakistan where online activism was our way to get international attention.”

Challenge
“Through this volunteer work I gained more experience and knowledge about the different cultures that live in Holland and how they are dealing with their cultural background that conflicts with Western culture. Even after living in the Netherlands for many years, integration remains a challenge for many. Many live in a certain time capsule and still have a mindset from years ago when they left their country. That was amazing to see.”

“In Pakistan volunteer work is not officially organized like here. People do help each other on a friendly basis. What I experienced here is that organizations expect you to stay a volunteer for the rest of your life. It was hard to stop after a project was finished.”

Social fundraising
“Soon after I started working for AWP I came in touch with Stichting Niketan, a foundation that helps disabled children in Bangladesh. They are doing very good work but they wanted to be better presence online and have a welcoming website for donors. After analyzing their online media channels and practices, I designed a social media strategy specifically tailored to their organization’s goals and objectives. They liked it so much, they said: ‘You implement it!’ So I got my first paid assignment!
It was the launch of my consultancy business, Gill Nonprofit Consulting. I focus on charities and give trainings and webinars about social fundraising.”

I had to build a network from scratch. VCA connected me with the right people so that I could continue in the same field I worked in before.

Digital divide
“I am also still active in the women right movement. I set up a foundation Stichting ChunriChoupaal to stimulate the economic empowerment of women in Pakistan. I think that financial means help women to get a better position in their family, that they will deserve more respect. I want to train women through computers and mobile phones. Inclusion of women in poor areas is so important. The digital divide is getting bigger and bigger.”

Feedback
“What I most liked during my volunteer activities was the feedback we got after the first presentation of the play. The audience really connected with the theme of the play. That feeling was overwhelming. Mission accomplished. And when the Stichting Niketan was so happy about my advice I felt fulfilled. I felt part of people who want to go forward.”

“What VCA did for me is an entry point in the local nonprofit sector. I had to build a network from scratch. VCA connected me with the right people so that I could continue in the same field I worked in before.”

Can volunteer work be an entry point for you? Check these vacancies