Sam is one of our longest-serving volunteers and is currently in Malawi helping to oversee the SolarBerry launch. We asked Sam a few questions about his experience volunteering with the Turing Trust and the project he’s supported over the years.
Let’s start with an easy one! Sam, tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Sam Gray, I’m a Software Engineer, currently working for an Edinburgh-based software start-up. I’m originally from a town called Worksop, though I have lived in Scotland (Edinburgh & Dundee) for the last 10 years. I have been volunteering with the Turing Trust for nearly 2 years, mainly working on the SolarBerry Project and building a Solar Monitoring Device for use in Malawi.
How did you first get involved with the Turing Trust?
It’s been so long now, I can barely remember! I had heard rumblings for a while about the Trust in the Edinburgh tech community and thought it sounded like a perfect fit. I got in touch via the website, went to visit a few days later and the rest is history!
What attracted you to the Turing Trust?
Whilst all of the work done by the Turing Trust is so important and clearly valuable to the people over here, it was the SolarBerry Project which really captured my imagination. I am a huge fan of Raspberry Pi computers, and to play a part in putting them to such good use sounded like an opportunity I couldn’t miss.
You’re currently in Malawi visiting our project; did you know much about Malawi before volunteering with the Turing Trust?
Not a lot at all. I’m ashamed to say I would probably have struggled to pinpoint it on a map! Over the last couple of years of being involved in the Turing Trust, however, I have learnt a lot about the country and some of the difficulties they are encountering. This has been quite an eye-opener and makes the work we are doing feel worthwhile.
How have you found Malawi so far?
It’s a beautiful country with very friendly people. The city that we are in right now, Mzuzu (in the Northern region of the country) is not a typical tourist destination, and so almost everyone we come across has been very eager to chat and make us feel welcome in their home. I am looking forward to visiting Choma (the site of our first SolarBerry) in the next day or two. Choma is much more rural than where we are now, so please ask me again in a few days!
Finally, what would say to someone interested in volunteering, whether with us, or with any charity?
Quite simply, just do it. It would be wrong to claim that it hasn’t been a lot of hard work to both maintain a full-time job and commit time to a couple of charities, however I wouldn’t change it. Helping build something which is going to make a significant improvement to this community’s lives has been so rewarding, particularly now that I have the opportunity to see its true impact first-hand.
Finally, don’t think that volunteering means that you won’t get anything tangible out of the experience. The Turing Trust is full of people with a wealth of experience and a wide range of expertise. From working closely with these people on a regular basis, I have learnt so much in fields that I would otherwise, have not have had any exposure to in my career.