The SSAFA Gurkha Ladies Project is looking for new volunteers. The project has been running for more than four years with a team of 24 volunteers working with around 110 ladies over two days.
The ladies are all wives, widows or dependents of former Gurkha soldiers. When they joined the classes many had no experience of literacy and had no English language at all. Most can now write, recognise and say many relevant English words and are starting to speak! The ladies work in groups with volunteers who know them as individuals and work at their level of ability. However when new ladies arrive from Nepal they need a little time to get used to being here and to gain in confidence and we are seeking additional volunteers to help welcome new ladies in a reception group.
Prospective volunteers should be patient and optimistic, a sense of humour is essential since our students enjoy a joke and lots of fun! They make slow progress because of their ages and because they have often not been to school, but the sense of achievement when they ‘get it’ is enormous. If they are new to the UK the volunteer will need to keep alert for sight and hearing problems which can affect learning. We make sure that these and any other problems are addressed by medical professionals.
There is plenty of structure and support, but there is also lots of opportunity for the volunteer to approach learning situations creatively. We work on the principle if it works, use it. If it doesn’t, then ask one of the team for advice and try something else!
Our ladies are probably the most highly motivated women you will ever encounter. They work hard – forget a lot, and try even harder the next time! We love working with them and seeing 70 Gurkha ladies of mature years doing the Hokey Cokey at the end of a session is a sight not to be missed!