Charity spotlight: World Youth International
World Youth International is a registered charity which has facilitated meaningful volunteer opportunities for more than 3,800 Australians and provided access to basic services such as healthcare and education for more than 40,000 people across the globe. At the heart of all their work is a commitment to community-led, sustainable development projects, and a belief in the power of volunteers to create real impact. Their vision is to educate, empower and inspire positive change within the global community.
World Youth International on leading a not-for-profit volunteer organisation through a pandemic
Leading not for profit organisation World Youth International as General Manager isn’t a job for Terry Hoey; it’s a lifestyle, and it has been for the last 2 decades. It always has its challenges, but navigating it through this latest pandemic has been the toughest.
World Youth International is a registered charity, founded by the Hoey family, which has facilitated international volunteer opportunities for more than 3,800 Australians and provided access to basic services such as healthcare and education for more than 40,000 people across the globe. At the heart of all their work is a commitment to community-led, sustainable development projects, and a belief in the power of volunteers to create real impact.
Terry first started as Director of World Youth International in 1997 and since then has gone on to manage every aspect of the organisation. However, working in a family business is never easy and there are always challenges to overcome.
“We have managed to successfully run World Youth International for over 32 years and our family relationship has never been stronger. The key is in open communication, and giving each other, as well as the wider team, the opportunity to be clear on our goals. I always strive to ensure that every team member feels part of the organisation and I encourage them to have a voice and be inspired. It has kept us strong and aligned during more challenging times, especially when navigating through various major global issues that have impacted our organisation over the years including SARS and Ebola and most recently, Covid-19.”
Like many other Australian charities struggling to stay afloat as a result of the pandemic, strategies were urgently implemented over the last few months to ensure World Youth International’s survival. Terry is confident that World Youth International will make it through 2020 and survive the economical blow. Before the pandemic, the charity was building strong momentum, and he is motivated to achieve that again.
“The longer we ground our international volunteer programs, the longer our vulnerable communities go without vital healthcare services and support. It is my commitment to get our programs up and running again as soon as feasibly possible and support these communities in need. At this time, we must all band together and get through the coming months until the travel restrictions ease,” says Terry.
Earlier this year when the coronavirus was beginning to be felt all over the globe, there were groups of Australian nurses over in Nepal and Kenya on their Nurses In Action program. Terry, along with the World Youth International Board of Directors jumped into immediate action, closely following government advice, ensuring their organisation was doing all it could to help manage the spread and keep their volunteers safe. As countries around the world began closing their borders, Terry knew he had to do everything he could to get the volunteers home before there were no flights left. He personally assisted all volunteers to make it home, working around the clock to make it happen.
“World Youth International has an impeccable safety and security record with an extensive range of policies in place to ensure all volunteers have an amazing experience overseas and return home safely. This was no different. Getting our nurses on flights home was my priority. It was a whirlwind 48 hours; dealing with contacts and partners across various time zones. I admit, there were some moments of concern; a few times I had a volunteer booked on a flight, only to find out a few hours later that the flight had been cancelled and we needed to scramble around to find another route home. Miraculously, all the volunteers made it home safely before the countries went into lockdown, and our volunteers were able to safely undergo their 14 days of quarantine. Not one of them tested positive for the coronavirus.”
These types of miraculous stories seem to continuously occur for Terry. When the devastating earthquake shook Nepal in 2015, there was a community within a remote village that took shelter in one of World Youth International’s projects; a 2 storey classroom that was added to an existing school project. Once the tremors were over, the village saw that the building was one of just a few buildings left standing. If they had not taken refuge there, many of them would not have survived.
“I have a true belief that World Youth International was always meant to be, and that is evident in the amazing stories and impact we have had over the years,” reflects Terry.
Terry’s greatest achievement is World Youth International’s first-ever major construction project which was their School in Nepal. It was opened in 1999 with just 22 students in attendance. The school today has over 550 students and is recognised as one of the leading schools in Nepal with an average grade pass rate of over 96.5%. It continues to grow from strength to strength.
Currently forced to postpone all international volunteer placements, which is the charity’s primary income stream, but not one to give up on his brother’s legacy, Terry has taken advantage of this ‘quiet time’ and launched ‘new-look’ Kenyan Nurses In Action programs.
“Developing countries like Nepal and Kenya are struggling more than ever. There is limited government funding that is being distributed to health centres and communities in these countries creating major barriers for the healthcare sector. Many nurses recognise the extra help these vulnerable communities need and are keen to travel as soon as possible to lend a hand. We have continued to receive new applications for our programs over the last few months. This is really positive for us, but also highlights the generosity and courage of nurses everywhere.”
Terry has also been exploring strategies to ensure World Youth International can still continue to operate regardless of when the borders are open to travel again.
“I would like to implement new sustainable development projects within Australia and beyond, expanding into countries other than Kenya and Nepal. We are working on some exciting new projects in conjunction with corporate partners who can help us achieve these goals, and we are always open to explore new partnerships,” he highlights.
Learn more about World Youth International’s Nurses in Action program and how you too can inspire change where it’s most needed here.
Support World Youth International with charityBay here.