Everyone Can Make an Impact

Linnea Henriksson - Solutions Engineer, Salesforce

I had long thought about ways to give back to the broader community when I stumbled across Venture 2 Impact for the first time. In all my attempts to try and find a way to give back I was struggling with finding something where I felt I could really contribute uniquely with my specific skill set in a way that seemed sustainable to the community I was trying to help. There are all these different options but where do I start and will it really make a difference to anyone? Or will it maybe harm more than help? I was very concerned about volunteering and going in to a community with a lot of wrong assumptions.

"There are all these different options but where do I start and will it really make a difference to anyone? Or will it maybe harm more than help?"

When I found Venture 2 Impact however, everything felt right. The fact that they work with skill based volunteering in tight collaboration with local organisations seemed like a good setup. Also, my first impression of the people at V2I was that they were true professionals and they actually brought up a lot of my own concerns before I addressed them myself. I really resonated with the mindset that this is an opportunity for us as volunteers to learn, probably much more than we ourselves will teach.
 
The day after I first stumbled upon Venture 2 Impact, me and my colleague who I traveled with, had a call with one of the founders and another day later we were signed up and ready to go. It was a very fast decision but felt right. Back home we are working as solution engineers at Salesforce in Sweden and a lot of our work is about changing the way businesses operate and put together IT solutions to help them. We were very keen to take some of that knowledge and put it to work in a totally different context.
 
Once in Rwanda I have to say that the impact we made seemed to be bigger than I thought it would be and the learnings I took away were also greater than I had expected. We were working in close collaboration with the local organisation Hope and Homes for Children (HHC) at one of their community hubs in a vulnerable community in Kigali. We taught three different classes; English, Technology and Business. For each of the classes, the community had selected representatives to attend the classes who would, after this, forward the knowledge to others in the community. I have never seen such genuine engagement in a class before and it was clear how much they appreciated us being there and were planning on making use if this knowledge directly in their everyday lives
 
Rwanda as a country was also much different that what I had expected. I feel so much more connected to other parts of the world after this experience and feel like I really got a genuine insight into Rwanda as a country but also into the everyday lives of the people through the community we worked with. It has given me many new perspectives on life and what is important. It was amazing to see the community in Rwanda and how they all took care of each other in a way I think we could learn a lot from in our society. I also think it really opened up my eyes to my own privilege and showed me that giving back might be more straightforward than you think. We were discussing in the volunteer group one evening around the topic that if we had all been born into an equal world we would probably not have been nearly as well off as we are today and how it is easy to forget about the privileges you are given.

"It was amazing to see the community in Rwanda and how they all took care of each other in a way I think we could learn a lot from in our society."

All in all this experience has been incredible and I can highly recommend everyone that have the opportunity to volunteer and give back in some way. For me, I had long thought about doing it but it took me quite some time before I found an organisation I really wanted to get involved with. I think it is easy to find reasons not to volunteer and for me it was very important to do my research to feel good about what I was going to do, but once I did, I feel like it opened up my eyes to how easy it can be to give back. So do your research, find a way to give back that feels right for you and then just give it a try!

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