The Anglican church’s volunteer program is appealing for candidates to serve the church in different capacities overseas, as it once again goes through a bleak period, with a dearth of volunteers and a critical need for help overseas.
“The staffing situation will be desperate in July, so any help will be appreciated,” said a letter from a church partner in Dodoma, Tanzania to Jill Cruse, co-ordinator for the Volunteers in Mission (VIM) program of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Ms. Cruse pointed to the letter to underscore the urgent need for volunteers to support VIM. Approved in 1986 by General Synod, the church’s governing body, the VIM program enables people of various ages, skills and professions to offer themselves for voluntary service for one to two years.
VIM has recently been swamped with requests for volunteers from church partners in Africa, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean but it has no one to send, said Ms. Cruse. She said that to date, no one has applied to become a VIM this year. Last year, VIM sent three volunteers – one to Sri Lanka, one to Belize, and one to Tanzania.
In an interview, Ms. Cruse said VIM has undergone a similar cycle of highs and lows before. “It’s hard to predict when people will hear the call to serve overseas,” she said. The last time VIM had a shortage of volunteers was after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, when people were hesitant to travel or venture out of their comfort zones, said Ms. Cruse.
Volunteers that have been requested range from teachers to communications officers to paramedics. The diocese of Masasi, Tanzania, for example, needs an individual to head the English department of its junior seminary in Lindi. Dodoma, Tanzania, needs at least nine teachers for its early years and middle elementary schools. The diocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka, has also requested English teachers. “We would normally require a two-year period but in the circumstances will be happy to receive people even for one year,” wrote Colombo Bishop Duleep de Chickera.
Ms. Cruse says one does not have to fit a certain profession to become a volunteer since the needs are varied. She said that people interested in becoming volunteers should call her office to inquire about where their skills could be put to good use. “We are prepared to match their skills with the needs,” she said.
The VIM Web site features volunteer opportunities. Those interested in participating in the program may contact Ms. Cruse at (416) 924-9199 ext. 315, or at [email protected]