CBM International works in 63 countries around the world to transform lives. It was established in 1908 by German pastor Ernst Jakob Christoffel, who built homes for children with disabilities in Turkey and Iran. In low income countries, people living with disability are often unable to access basic rights and services such as education and healthcare, and are often excluded from employment, and social and community activities. CBM seeks to empower people living with disability in the world’s poorest countries, transforming their lives and breaking down the barriers in their homes and communities that stop them from reaching their full potential.
Sue Reid, Volunteer Coordinator – Support Services Team, started as a volunteer in the organisation before landing a paid job in CBM’s donor department . When the opportunity came up to have a change in role she thought it would be great to work with CBMs amazing volunteers. Sue shares the role of Volunteer Coordinator with Elizabeth Churchward and they have been working together for 7 years.
“The thing that attracted me to the role was just to be with people giving their time to volunteer,” she explains.
CBM have approximately eighty volunteers. Sixty volunteers attend the Melbourne office where they do everything from mailing receipts to supporters, collating major donor packs, to data and International Programs work. They help the Australian Disability and Development Consortium (ADDC) where volunteers helped put together a series of videos “Together towards an inclusive world” – a huge project involving a number of volunteers producing the videos and project managing the job.
Twenty of the volunteers are working external to the office performing other support functions. They are regional coordinators for CBM church engagement and they work all over Australia.
There are two projects that Sue and Elizabeth shared with Volunteering Victoria. Miracles Day and the Transcriptions Project.
Miracles Day is the biggest annual phone in campaign to transform the lives of over 25,000 of the world’s poorest men, women and children living with cataract blindness.
There are more than forty volunteers involved in preparing for a six-month lead-up. In total, they spent around 200 hours ensuring that Miracle Day is always a successful event. This includes doing all the catering for the staff and volunteers who spend the day on the phones. In 2016, this project raised enough money to restore the sight of 25,000 people.
The second project is where volunteers transcribe interviews from audio or video footage. The interviews come in from the field, primarily from Africa or Asia. The transcriptions are used in CBM promotional material, often as subtitles in videos. Twelve volunteers have taken about 250 hours so far this year to complete these transcriptions. This is really important work because the people with disability being interviewed helps show the work of CBM and ensures the voices and experiences of people with disability is heard and promoted.
The recipients of CBM are people with disability living in some of the poorest places around the world. CBM’s work supports them to reach their full potential. For example, CMB provide surgeries so people can see or walk again, provides rehabilitation and assistive devices to support people with disability attend school, gain a livelihood and actively participate in their local communities. The result is that people with disability can lead a fuller life and their communities benefit from their talents and contributions.
When asked if volunteers were unable to support the work of CBM Sue provided a quick response.
“Our volunteer program is so strong, with very faithful and committed volunteers. We would all be sad if this was to stop. It would have a financial impact on our organisation. For example, last year, volunteers did 4,750 hours and the equivalent wage cost to CBM would have been over $125,000. It would also put pressure on all departments if they had to do this work themselves. And finally, it would be an enormous social loss to the volunteers. Coming to CBM is a real highlight for them”
“We have one elderly lady who has been coming here for years and it’s had a huge impact on her. She’s so much more positive and confident. We also have a solicitor who, while on materiality leave, was worrying about how she would cope when she got back into the workforce. She ran a major project for us and now has the confidence to look for employment. It’s lovely to see people get their confidence back.”
Funded from a range of sources, including local donors, the Federal Government, and philanthropic contributions. The senior management of our organisation are all incredibly supportive of the volunteer program and very committed to volunteering, which is one of the reasons our program is such a success.
“Our board members are all volunteers themselves. It’s wonderful to see that the ethos of service goes all the way to the top of our organisation.”
2015 volunteers did 4,750 hours.
This provides volunteers with social and administrative skills, while knowing that every hour of volunteering is helping people with disability reach their potential in the poorest places around the world.
Volunteers gift to the community
$165,727.50* dollar value of volunteering, that is 4,750 hours of volunteering
25,000 people with restored vision throughout the world
Endless other support provided to vulnerable and disadvantaged people with disabilities
*hourly rate for volunteer was calculated using the Duncan Ironmonger Report 2016 projection