Continuing to make a difference through volunteering


Cuso International Volunteers

For Sally Hughes, volunteering is her opportunity to make a difference.

When Sally first retired, part of that process was finding a way to forge new passions and find meaning and purpose. This includes volunteering, and in 2017 she started volunteering with Cuso International. Since then, she’s had a double placement in Ethiopia, a placement in Laos and this past October she left for Tanzania.

“I feel that it’s the place that I’m meant to be to be able to continue to make a difference in some way,” she says. “I’ll just keep going as long as I can, as long as I’m making a difference.”

Sally’s fourth placement with Cuso International was originally scheduled for February 2021 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She knows COVID-19 is a serious disease and plans to take precautions – with a pile of masks and cleansers ready to go – but she says it’s just one more thing to be careful about.

“I’ve learned a lot about COVID-19 working in long-term care. But I believe you can’t stop yourself from living, from doing things,” she said. “It’s a balancing act between being careful and not defining yourself by the fear of doing things because of what might happen.”

When Sally was in Ethiopia, her placement included working at a rural hospital teaching medical staff who were going into refugee camps on the border of Sudan about medical health issues and delivering compassionate care. She also taught medical sociology and helped devise programs at the Assosa University.

With this placement in Tanzania, Sally is teaching and assisting at the AGAPE Knowledge Open School (AKOS). Supporting women, young adults, and children, AKOS focuses on four key areas to help advance gender equality and social inclusion: child and youth protection, skillful parenting, women and youth empowerment, and the prevention of gender-based violence, child marriages and pregnancies.

Sally is also working at the Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA) in Shinyanga, Northern Tanzania. There she is helping identify needs and opportunities to improve teaching English in AGAPE/VETA schools. This includes helping design and implement a teaching curriculum that builds the staff’s capacity to teach English.

With this being Sally’s first trip to Tanzania, she wasn’t quite sure what to expect. She planned to go into this new placement with an open mind, and completely absorb what those she is working with are teaching her.

Sally is looking forward to experiencing the diversity, meeting the people, and listening to their stories.