For a long time in Africa and Zimbabwe in particular, volunteerism has been associated with expatriates and the West, a notion VAZ is seeking to demystify. Unfortunately, poor governance and corruption has perpetuated much of the continent into a vicious cycle of aid-dependency and poverty which in turn has made international volunteers an essential part of development. Although some countries are faring better than others, NGOs and aid organizations have a strong presence in nearly all African countries depending largely on the time and skills volunteers have to offer. We believe Africans can rise up and make a difference in their own communities through volunteerism. After going through decades of deindustrialisation coupled with massive growth in the tertiary education sector, Zimbabwe has seen one of the biggest unemployment rates of our times. Hundreds of thousands of graduates are leaving the universities and colleges every year with zero prospects of employment simply because the employers are not competitive. With more and more companies folding and the traditional big employers downsizing, there is a growing pool of unemployed but formerly employed who are being joined by the fresh graduates in the pool of the unemployed. There is, therefore, a huge pool of, trained and inexperienced, trained and experienced and untrained and experienced, workforce that is redundant and has been so for a long time. Over a long period of redundancy, most skills especially in this fast technology moving environment become stale, requiring a huge cost of retraining as and when opportunities arise. Most of these would rather volunteer given an opportunity but don’t know how to go about it given the limited notion of volunteerism that we have been accustomed to. VAZ, as a non-profit organisation, was borne out of a dire need to match the suppliers and consumers of volunteer services in Zimbabwe. It seeks to broaden the scope of volunteerism from the traditional understanding.
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