Wednesday, May 23, 2007


We need trustees !

We currently only have 3 trustees, 2 of which are related. We are currently recruiting to rectify this situation.

We need them to juggle the current Catch 22 situation - to enable us to grow and with this growth, introduce all bureaucratic (some I believe unnecessary) measures, i.e.

Memorandum and Articles of Association

A governing document (we do have a constitution)

Full accounting with the annual reports (we have virutally no money !)

Minutes of the board meetings (onsite or VoIP)

Strategic, Business or Operational Plan

Policy and procedure documents of the organisation

We actually have some of these items but until we are able to obtain more Trustees we prefer to concentrate on getting the job done rather than whether or not people believe we're corrupt or trustworthy. That is an increasingly hard task in todays world but one I will not spend ridiculous amount of time / money or effort on.

We do not charge fees from our volunteers (who cover their own essential costs). I will not allow AVIF to become a "gap year con". We do not get financially involved with any of our hosts. Both myself and Sharon, as Managing Trustee, a Kenyan citizen, are unpaid and cover our own expenses. The corruption existing in Africa is severe and we actually prefer to be non-financially involved.

We "emphasise the importance of resilience, self-reliance, and innovation; we separate fact from emotion & balance necessary levels of protection whilst preserving reasonable levels of risk. Unwilling or able to spend vast amounts on insurance policies we would like to empower individuals to take more personal responsibility for risk since they are best placed to manage it."

No-one is paid, as it should be. We have only received £650 in total for funding, which has been used to cover costs. Our current Barclays charity account holds the remaining £230 which will be used to cover costs of the orientation running in July, purchase solar cookers etc. Most will be covered by ourselves.

Until we spend time and money on bureaucratic measures to improve our governance and transparency we probably will not receive funding .. hence our need for Trustees.

We are an innovative charity and are aware of governance and transparency to the point of ridicule (this blog for example)

We do everything short of publishing the access codes to the online Barclays Community Account. Should our non-conforming current governance, however, mean we must remain financially uninvolved, we are still able to achieve a great deal more than if we followed the advice of consultants and became a limited company.

We have been wonderfully advised by someone far more bureaucratically experienced than I (thank you Liz) that certain procedures as essential for even the smallest of non-profit-organisations.

I hope we can continue to grow and juggle without spending too much time on red tape. The phrase trustee indemnity insurance will not help an orphaned child complete their secondary education rather than succumb to child labour. I do understand though that it may indirectly get us Trustees that can conform us enough to be able to obtain funding for these children.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

I've had a weekend of seeing friends & family (under very heart-wrenching circumstances). It has been a soulful time and this was an equally poignant moment, while sifting through my emails, when I opened this forwarded chain apparently sent by Phil McCann (Madeleine McCann's aunt) .. followed immediately by Brami's email of a case she'd been sent.

I merely wanted to highlight the point Brami made

earlier this week

[Email 1]



As you are aware my niece, Madeleine, is still missing and I am asking

everyone I know to send this as a chain letter i.e. you send it to everyone

you know and ask them to do the same, as the story is only being covered in

Britain, Eire and Portugal. We don't believe that she is in Portugal anymore

and need to get her picture and the story across Europe as quickly as

possible. Suggestions are welcome.

Phil McCann

The chain has a portugese disclaimer saying :

Anyone with information should contact the Portuguese police direct on 00
351 282 405 400 or contact Crimestoppers
anonymously on 0800 555 111.

[Email 2]

The name of the child is:  Vinisiya

She is three years of age.

Her father is a construction worker.

She was taken while playing in the street (Bindiamaamn Koil
Street, Odaimanagar, Besant Nagar, Chennai , India
. She has now been missing for two months.


I hope this is of interest to you, just one
missing child of thousands.

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What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger

A volunteer has asked about safety .. the website contains these details but I'll post it too :

AVIF cannot enforce but make recommendations that volunteers apply for membership to AMREF's Flying Doctor Service which will ensure emergency evacuation to the nearest registered major hospital. While we also have a discounted medical package available from SafeMed we believe the average "western" UK/US travel / medical insurance will provide the same cover.


Should things go wrong our hosts are able to contact us immediately. We hold all emergency information .. Volunteers are asked to pass on all details of travel / medical insurance as well as references for Flying Doctor membership, at Orientation.


We insist that volunteers travel up-country by air, a much more convenient, faster and safer method of travel, though this cost must again be borne by yourselves. We have

 an established arrangement with 540 Airlines who are a new but very amenable company.

AVIF will give you all the information you need but also emphasise the importance of resilience, self-reliance, and innovation; we separate fact from emotion & balance necessary levels of protection whilst preserving reasonable levels of risk. Unwilling and unable to spend vast amounts on insurance policies we would like to empower individuals to take more personal responsibility for risk since you are best placed to manage it."


You will be given a full safety brief in Nairobi, will have the full welfare support of AVIF Liaisons as well as the protection of the village you will be aiding ~ their support speaks a thousand words.


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Thank you so much

To all our prospective volunteers.

Thank you so so much to Helen B, Helen H, Charlotte & Louise for the fantastic photos uploaded to Flickr. Please try to use this facility as every photo if given "tags" can increase the sites visibility and the Blog can be used by anyone, just send your entries to me by leaving comments or by sending emails and I'll post your comments.

Asante & salamu !
Alison Lowndes
Founder Trustee
Bookmark our Blog here
VoIP & IM Skype : avif_volunteers_in_kenya
Member of the NCVO & DEA
AVIF is a UK exempt charity able to claim GiftAid HMRC ref. XR99385