AAT tutor Sonya Ashbarry FMAAT recently travelled to Malawi to volunteer as an Accounting Technician with Accounting for International Development (AfID).
Sonya, Director of Eagle Education and Training Ltd, an AAT approved assessment centre, volunteered to work at the Good Health Youth Organisation (GHYO) in Kasungu, Malawi after seeing a comment on AAT’s Facebook page about AfID’s work.
The Executive Director of GHYO had asked for assistance because it was missing out on potential donor funding as it was unable to provide donors with audited financial reports. Sonya’s objective was to gather information about the organisation and its financial position.
‘I had to identify areas of strength and weakness and make recommendations to improve systems, procedures and financial reporting,’ Sonya says. ‘I was practically doing an AAT level 4 Internal Controls and Accounting Systems (ICAS) project and report’
She found the experience challenging on two fronts. Firstly was the decision to actually do it, worrying that she might not have the appropriate practical accounting experience to transfer to a non-governmental organisation in a foreign country. The second was adjusting to a new environment, where she suffered from heat exhaustion, frequent black outs (no electricity), no water and a large workload.
Despite the setback, Sonya found the experience very positive. ‘It was extremely rewarding to combine volunteering with travel and a true cultural experience,’ she says. ‘If you’re considering volunteering, do it. Live life with no regrets.’