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close this bookVolunteer Participation in Working with the Urban Poor (UNDP - UNV, 64 p.)
close this folderV. Principles and characteristics of volunteer use
View the documentFunctions and volunteers
View the documentQualities of VDWs
View the documentTeams
View the documentSkill requirements and experiences
View the documentSelection and placement process
View the documentAcculturation and language training process

Qualities of VDWs

As repeated and emphasised often throughout this text, the urban situation in developing countries varies widely, and the qualities required of VDWs to work in programmes differ accordingly. It is difficult, therefore, to produce a general profile of VDWs to work in the urban context. Further, the type of intervention required will dictate different qualities needed in project teams -such as the level at which the VDW works (community, municipal or state level, or with an NGO). Nevertheless, we can outline several characteristics of VDWs which are key to ensuring that their assistance is appropriate:

- Human Qualities: Pre-disposition to volunteer commitment, with a positive outlook: the ability to listen; open-mindedness and flexibility; and a willingness to share problems and work in urban areas regardless of obstacles. These qualities may in many cases be more important than academic qualifications. Knowledge of the local language, and rural and urban sociology are also essential.

- Organisational Skills: Capacity to play the role of an animator; knowledge of how to strengthen the administrative and managerial capacity of CBOs and NGOs; and the ability to mobilise resources.

- Specialised and Technical Skills: Capacity to communicate at various levels (i.e. community, AGO, national and international); technical skills of relevance to low-income urban communities such as housing, infrastructure, health, education, etc.

Depending on the intervention envisaged and the national capacity available, it is likely that a range of volunteer types will be used in support schemes. This could include international, regional, national, and community volunteers.

In order to meet the very high level of challenges represented by conditions in low-income urban communities, and to cope with the many different specialisations of relevance, it may be desirable to adopt a team approach, whereby several VDWs working together could pool their respective skills in order to achieve the set objectives.