Sean On Leave

Changing the World…One Vacation At A Time.

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Sean In Nepal

Originally posted on July 4th.

So what’s all this about a trip to Nepal? Last year, I heard about an amazing opportunity on campus called Leave For Change, a program which allows Canadians to transform their vacation into an opportunity to volunteer abroad and help make a contribution towards the Millennium Development Goals. Leave For Change is a program run by Uniterra and partners Uniterra with both a sponsoring employer and volunteer employees. Uniterra provides the work of connecting with local agencies in developing countries and managing the logistics of the trip. The employer, the University of Guelph in my case, provides resources to manage and liaison with the program and funds the trip itself. The Volunteer, that would be me :) , provides his or her expertise and vacation time to go on the leave. From the Leave For Change website, here are description of the program:

• Enables employees from participating organizations to transform part of their annual leave into a 2 or 3 week volunteer assignment in a developing country.

• Enables these volunteers to contribute their skills and advice to an international development project with the support of professionals in the host country.

I had been looking for exactly this sort of opportunity for years. I remember hearing about GeekCorp a long time ago, but never having the ability to commit to 6 months or more. Also, I had just finished reading Stephen Lewis’ Race Against Time, and was challenged to think of a way I could personally contribute to the Millenium Development Goals. Then I heard about the Leave For Change program and I was blown away! It was exactly what I was looking for…a chance to help, work toward the MDGs and be able to do within a short time period, like 3 weeks of vacation!

As a testament to the great community at the U of G, there were more applicants than positions posted for our inaugural year of Leave For Change. I feel privileged to be one of the successful candidates, especially given the excellent company I’m in; the other successful candidates are my colleagues Frebis Hoffmeyer, Michael Levy and Wayne Johnson. U of G posted a news release about this program.

Since being accepted to Leave For Change I’ve had the opportunity to meet members of the Nepali community here on campus, attend Inter-cultural training and work out the details for this trip. I have been in touch with several of the people I’ll be working with in Nepal. I will be working with the Fair Trade Group Nepal, who are located in Kathmandu. I will be providing web development work and web development training. I am so excited about this work – helping people communicate with the web and teaching are two of my passions.

I will be in Nepal for 3 weeks in July of 2007. I’m sure it will be an amazing adventure – I feel so lucky to be able to participate in the Leave For Change program. My sincere gratitude to Uniterra for creating the program, to the University of Guelph for their support and leadership in adopting this program and to my friends and family who have been very supportive. I’d also like to thank fantastic medical team I’ve been working with to get ready for this trip – it’s been a lot of needles to get ready! Arbour Medical Clinic has been superb, and the staff at Prime Care Pharmacy never stop impressing me. I am also grateful for the work of the Travel Clinic in Hamilton which helped me source some hard to find supplies. I need to mention the amazing generosity of the U of G campus, the Mayor’s Office at City of Guelph and our local MP, Brenda Chamberlain, and MPP, Liz Sandals, who have been very helpful in supplying souvenirs for the entire Leave For Change crew this year.

I will do my best to keep this website up to date on how things are going in Nepal – so don’t change that channel! There’s lots more to come.