In 2004, New Zealand Geographic magazine carried an engaging article about VSA’s first 40 years, written by VSA staffer Trevor Richards.

Richards, who had been with VSA for 15 years, noted a host of changes. Government support began in 1962 with a £2500 cheque for ‘administration expenses’. In 2003, NZ Aid gave VSA $5.6 million.

Tanzania card players PS

A group of Masai in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area take a break from pastoral duties. After launching its Tanzanian programme in 1987, VSA had placed 63 volunteers there when the NZ Geographic story was written in 2002.

More significant were the changes in who VSA sent – fewer school leavers and more older volunteers - where they were sent to, and what they were sent to do.

Yet some things remained the same. When Richards was scoping VSA projects in Tanzania, he wondered out loud whether a partner might benefit more from a wealthier agency.

“No,” I was told, “we would rather have VSA. Your volunteers might not have the same access to funding and equipment as those from some other agencies, but the people you send are hard working, practical and very happy to work with local people. We would like a lot more like them.” Read more >