I recently spent a day volunteering at MAG HQ in Manchester, after which they asked me to write an article about my experience for their MAG Dispatches blog.
I found out about MAG whilst doing research on the effect of landmines and discarded bombs from the Vietnam War. I came across an article about an all female demining group in Laos and what I found fascinating about the story was how MAG train and employ women from local farming communities to demine the fields. This raises the status of women in a country where the literacy rate among the female population is currently 54 per cent, compared with 77 per cent for men. Working for MAG means they receive valuable training as a technician or medic and gives them skills they can pass on to their daughters.
MAG Laos Deputy Team Leader Souk Savan carefully places a corroded 60mm mortar bomb, close to the ancient stupas in Khoun. This is a popular tourist site and, like the Plain of Jars, it is important the area is made safe. [Photo: Sean Sutton / MAG]
This inspired me to write to MAG to ask if there were any volunteering opportunities available at their HQ in Manchester and they were kind enough to let me come in for the day to help the fundraising team with donor mailing. When I arrived, Jen Birch and Jess Carver gave me an introduction to MAG and how their fundraising activities work. It was interesting to learn that MAG is known primarily as a humanitarian organisation with a long-term focus on finding ways to reduce the risk of injury or death by educating local communities and creating jobs (more than 90% of MAG’s employees are local workers). Rather than focusing on how many landmines have been destroyed or how big an area has been cleared, their aim as a humanitarian organisation is to enable countries to rebuild socially and economically.
My day at MAG HQ involved sending thank you letters to all their donors and also a copy of their bi-annual publication called Impact, which helps keep supporters up to date with MAG’s work. It is a very informative booklet giving an insight into everything from Lebanon’s female bomb searchers to an update on how the public’s contributions during the Laos Appeal helped people living in dangerous areas.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at MAG, the staff were fantastic and made me feel incredibly welcome. Their passion for the organisation really shines through and I came away with an even greater understanding of the amazing work they do.
The original article can be found here on the MAG Dispatches blog