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VSO supporters, would-be volunteers, and fans of Papua New Guinea should tune in to Charley Boorman Sydney to Tokyo: By Any Means this autumn on BBC2 to see Charley getting a taste of life as a VSO volunteer. 

Charley visited Marcel Pool, a VSO volunteer physiotherapist working in Goroka in the Eastern Highlands province of Papua New Guinea, as part of his journey from Sydney to Tokyo for the second series of By Any Means.  The series charts Charley’s progress through Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan and Japan by as many modes of transport as possible, taking in the communities and challenges he meets along the way. 

Charley accompanied Marcel on a field trip to the Mount Sion community based rehabilitation unit to see his work training and supporting Papua New Guinean community volunteers.  Marcel is helping these volunteers understands the issues of disability and training them in basic rehabilitation skills. 

The majority of people in this mountainous region live in remote villages and are unable to travel to hospital so these local volunteers work in their own villages to provide essential home-based care and support to over 200 disabled people. 

Marcel also training local health professionals at Goroka General Hospital and working on improvements to the physiotherapy department. 

Commenting on the work of Marcel and VSO Charley said:

“When I met Marcel in the middle of Papua New Guinea I wasn’t sure what to expect from VSO and I was taken aback by the enthusiasm of Marcel and the work he is doing out there.  I think it’s wonderful that people give up their time to selflessly help others improve their lives; I’m a huge supporter of the organisation and would encourage anyone to give it a go.”

According to Marcel, Charley’s visit was a big boost to the morale of health workers and volunteers and has provided a talking point every since: 

“It was a great experience, they were such nice and interesting people and for my colleagues it was very special to have a film crew over to see what they do.  They could really show off what they have learned and what kind of work they do with disabled people.  I could see they felt proud and at the same time the visit gave them a sense of appreciation for what they do, it motivated them.  And of course for me as a volunteer it was great as well to let the people I have been working with experience this exposure, I was very proud when I saw my colleagues interacting with Charley and showing him the work we do.  I think the show will be great!”

Charley Boorman Sydney to Tokyo: By Any Means will be broadcast in autumn 2009 on BBC2 with a book and DVD release to follow.

For further information please contact Catherine Raynor on 020 8780 7343 or email catherine.raynor@vso.org.uk

Editor's notes

  • As a VSO volunteer you are provided with flights, accommodation and an allowance to cover basic costs.  UK public sector professionals volunteering for between six months and two years are entitled to claim pension contributions providing they return to the public sector for a minimum of six months on their return to the UK
  • An average initial application of interest to VSO takes just 20 minutes to complete - please call 0208 780 7500 or log on to www.vso.org.uk for more details
  • VSO is an international development charity that works through volunteers.  Since 1958 over 33,000 volunteers have worked in over 120 countries.  Today there over 1600 international volunteers working in 42 countries around the world.
  • VSO recruits volunteers from a wide range of professional backgrounds.  The strongest need is for experienced managers, professionals with experience of working in primary education, advocacy, communications and marketing specialists and doctors and midwives.  VSO can use financial professionals where they have strong planning or management expertise.
  • VSO needs to raise £10 million each year in the UK in order to continue its vital work: working through volunteers to fight poverty in some of the world's poorest communities

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