It's 1962 and you're a student looking to pack your bags and study abroad. There are no websites or e-brochures available at your fingertips, your only option is to join a university club. This is when the British Universities North America Club (or BUNAC) began. Little did the ambitious, travel-obsessed students Christopher Harbour and Martin Truscott know how much impact on the world they were going to have when starting out their work and study abroad club.
BUNAC's volunteer projects have been hugely successful and have made a staggering impact worldwide. Just take, for example, the Sports Coaching Project in South Africa. Over the past 10 years it's reached over 100,000 children in South Africa and it's only getting bigger. Volunteers use sports such as football, tennis, and rugby to teach important health issues to students. As a result, this has improved knowledge and attitude to HIV and AIDS by 32% on average.We also found that 89% of children reached reported they felt more positive about life. Sports has proved to be an effective medium, in fact, combining physical activity with the key messages improves the children's ability to retain the information by up to 80%.
BUNAC also play their part in saving wildlife too. One of the biggest projects is Wildlife Volunteering in Kruger National Park. Sustaining the wildlife in a park the size of Wales hasn't been easy but it has made a huge contribution to the conservation of the wildlife. The initial camera trapping work has now created sufficient awareness of a decline in leopard numbers. The hard work of BUNAC volunteers has contributed to saving at least 150 leopards this year alone. The volunteer base camp also directly benefits the local community with employment opportunities, and the income generated from the volunteer project is utilised for conservation efforts in the reserve concession.
We couldn't talk about saving the world without mentioning the environmental conservation BUNAC have been part of. Thailand is home to one of many BUNAC environment projects, in particular, the Coastal Conservation projects in Phang Nga. People assume that fishing and shipping industries are to blame for rubbish in the ocean, when only 20% of items found in the ocean can be linked to this. The remaining 80% is due to land-based sources, like litter from the public, tourists and industrial discharges. In a recent clean up on the project over 40 bags worth of Styrofoam, lighters and flip flops were cleared. Without the help of this project, the beautiful coastline of Phang Nga would be a sight of floating debris. The locals of the area are often so pleased by the work of our volunteers that they're welcomed into the community and spoilt with local food and hospitality.
BUNAC volunteers, we salute you!