CUSO Upcoming 2024 Opportunities

A friend sent me the below list of volunteer placements in the Caribbean, South & Central America, and Africa. English, French and Spanish speaking applicants welcome. Why not check out the placements?

Cuso International Volunteer Placements

6-12 months (January Start)

View all 60+ online and international placements

Revisiting Volunteer Agency – CUSO

It has been a busy summer, and a sad autumn. Just two weeks ago my younger brother Earl Shears passed away with cancer. He never travelled for international development work but was a very active community member in Beaver Bank, Nova Scotia and was always interested in my travels and activities abroad. Rest in peace, Earl. You will be missed.

Some weeks ago, CUSO International sent me a fund-raising message which I try to respond to on an annual basis especially since the Government of Canada matches the donation many times. You might want to check with your favourite international charity to see if your government provides similar support to non-governmental organizations.

With the mailout, CUSO International shared an infographic which nicely summarises some of its work including numbers of volunteers, e-volunteers, and countries of assignment including by the way northern Canada. See the infographic below.

Do any of the locations tickle your fancy? Why not check out the CUSO International website to see what placement opportunities are currently available or are in the pipeline. If working physically abroad isn’t practical for you, remember you might be able to e-volunteer or see your donation to CUSO multiplied many times.

Why not check it out? Why not, indeed?

Focus on the ADB – Part 2

Find a Consulting Assignment with Short-Listed Firms

My previous post introduced readers to the Asian Development Bank, its organization, Bank activities and different ways to engage with the ADB. My focus last time was how consultants could find and apply for consulting assignments in their areas of expertise and the ADB’s area of need. I hope you were able to take some time to explore the agency’s elaborate web site and find assignments of interest.

Did you join the ADB consultant database? If you did, I would like to hear about your effort. You can add a comment at the bottom of this post. It does take time to get all your details added, but once done, it’s relatively easy to apply for a consulting assignment by sending in your EOI.

However, now let us move on to another way of getting that consulting assignment – by checking with short-listed firms, that is firms that are short-listed on a particular project which may require them to find outside consultants. And that could be you!

Click this link to take you to the page titled: Shortlisted Firms

Notice that the tab highlighted in the picture below is “Ongoing Requests for Proposals” so the list of projects shown are all those currently seeking Expressions of Interest from firms. You can filter the list by making country or sector selections to narrow your search. This page is a bit clunky in responding but eventually your filtered list will appear. To see the short-listed firms for a particular project, simply click the corresponding button in the right-hand column.

Depending on your selection, you will then see a screen like the one below that shows those firms that are short-listed for the project. The example below is not complete because the whole list was cut off but the illustration reveals the type of useful information provided. Details such as company name, contact person and position, contact information including phone, fax and email. The example below shows firms from Ireland, France, Singapore and Germany.

What next?

If you are interested in such a project and have the required qualifications and experience, you could write to one or more of the firms listed to inform them of your interest. Make sure you attach to your email a copy of your CV including contact information. Also, stress in your email how your background would be helpful in the upcoming project.

Now the firm may already have some consultants penciled in, but often project start up is delayed and sometimes a firm needs to replace a consultant. Even if this is not the case, your CV is now with this firm and can be added to their consultant database.

You can also mention in your email that you would be interested in future similar projects should they arrive.

NOTE: Although it is a good idea to share your CV with different firms, be careful not to be included on a proposed project team by different firms. The ADB frowns on such situations and can disqualify both firms if they see the same consultant in both bids.

Expand your search

Another strategy is to search for short-listed firms on projects that are now closed to EOIs. If your field is say, education, you can filter using that category, and others. To do this, just follow the above procedure but select the TAB “All Selections” as shown below.

Depending on your filters, you should get a longer list of short-listed firms that work in your area of expertise and in the country where you would like to work. (Just click “Reset” after each search to start again.)

Accessing the information through the website is free and you may want to try several filter combinations to check, for example, what companies in your country are bidding on projects, what companies are most active in a particular sector or country, and so on.

ADB provides a list of awarded contracts

You can explore which companies were awarded contracts. Why not continue your explorations and determine how to find this information on the ADB site yourself. Good luck.

Weekly Notice of Consulting Opportunities

Weekly notifications on consulting opportunities are available for registered users of the Consultant Management System (CMS).

PS. Don’t forget to check out my recently published memoir “Overseas Adventures – From Afghanistan to Zambia and Points In-Between”. It is available from AMAZON in many countries and from my website:

If you have trouble finding the book, email me directly.

Focus on the Asian Development Bank (ADB) – Part 1

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank established on 19 December 1966, and headquartered in the city of Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines. The bank also maintains 31 field offices around the world to promote social and economic development in Asia. The bank admits the members of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East or ECAFE) and non-regional developed countries. Canada is a member. From 31 members at its establishment, ADB now has 68 members.

The ADB was modeled closely on the World Bank.

The ADB funds multiple projects in Asia and the Pacific and I had the privilege of working on such a project in Sri Lanka, as a consultant with GOPA, a German consulting firm. The bank advertises consulting opportunities for both individuals and companies. Most of these requests for individual consultants are for nationals, for example, in Viet Nam, the project would seek Vietnamese nationals. But there is often a sprinkling of requests for international consultants. My project was in technical, vocational education and training (TVET) which falls under the umbrella of “Education” in the categories of projects the ADB supports.

To learn more about the bank, its mission and activities, I recommend that you visit its main website which contains links to its structure, projects, partners, financing and more.

How to Engage with the ADB?

There are many ways to engage with the ADB. Check the tab “Work with Us” on the ADB Main page, and the following screen appears. Click on an item to explore your particular interest.

My post today focuses on opportunities for individuals who would like to explore assignments as a consultant working on ADB projects.


If you click “Consultants” on the above page, the system takes you to a list of frequently asked questions. Select “How can I become adb consultant” and you are taken to a page with a ream of useful information.

Here is what part of this page says.

Information for independent consultants

ADB engages individual consultants and consulting entities (firms, universities, NGOs, etc.) for a wide range of assignments. Individuals wishing to consult for ADB must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be a citizen of an ADB member country
  • Not be barred from working with ADB, World Bank or ADB’s member countries
  • Not be a close family member (other than spouse) of an ADB employee

Additional criteria for government officials and civil servants

In addition to the above, government officials and civil servants must also meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be on leave of absence without pay
  • Not be hired by the agency they were working for immediately before going on leave
  • Not create a conflict of interest through their ADB consulting work

Next steps

There is plenty to study in the links posted above and I invite you to explore them on your own.

Reality Check

My experience applying to the ADB as an individual Canadian consultant has not been encouraging. The selection process is rigorous and my sense (unproven) is the staff who select consultants develop a cadre of favorites into which it is hard to enter. My work in Sri Lanka was conducted as part of a consulting firm’s bid and for many new consultants contacting companies short-listed for ADB assignments, may be a better alternative.

My next post will provide some advice on pursuing this option.


USA to Rejoin UNESCO

The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azouley, recently announced that the USA will rejoin UNESCO after several years absence. See the press briefing from UNESCO here.

You might recall from my memoir that my last international development assignment was as Team Leader on the UNESCO co-managed Skills and Technical Education Program in Malawi. 

Meeting rural workers outside Lilongwe

STEP was a wonderful initiative typical of UNESCO’s endeavors to promote quality education for young and not so young persons around the globe.

The US had been the largest financial contributor to UNESCO until it initially suspended support due to internal agency management challenges and later withdrew its membership entirely. As a result, UNESCO had to reduce its operations in some countries and not take up initiatives in certain others. As part of the agreement to rejoin, UNESCO will continue its management reform and the US will repay outstanding membership payments. This agreement can only have positive effects.

Kudos to the UNESCO Director-General for her leadership in reaching an agreement and to her American counterparts as well.

For more information on what UNESCO does and where, see their website.

UNRWA is on the verge of financial collapse

This message was part of the speech presented on behalf of UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, at the UNRWA pledging conference on June 2, 2023.

When I saw the report in the media it caused me considerable distress since I know UNRWA well and the excellent work it does after being a consultant with the agency in Gaza starting in 2005.

It is with relief that I can report and say thank you to the United States for their large contribution of USD 153.7 to UNRWA announced at that conference.

My two years working with UNRWA involved enhancing the application of ICT in schools in Gaza and technical support for new curricula at the Gaza Training Center and establishment of the Khan Younis Training Center.

I am glad that on-going financial contributions from different development partners will see education opportunities continue for Palestinian children and youth through UNRWA. However, regular, and guaranteed funding for UNRWA continues to be a challenge.

Funding Trends

UNRWA provides regular updates on contributions from various countries. In 2022, Canada ranked 11th in size of contributions. Canada provided nearly USD 24 million.

New Education Chief is Canadian

Dr. Julia Dicum is presently the Director of Education at UNRWA and joined the agency in 2023.

Best of luck Julia in your very important role.

Overseas Adventures – A book trailer

Recently, the editor for my book wondered if I had done a book trailer.

“Book trailer?” I asked. Before then I hadn’t heard the term. Rebecca said “It’s similar to a movie trailer but instead of a movie the trailer promotes a book”.

Well, it didn’t take long to find on Google lots of information about book trailers – what they are, how they’re made, what to put in and keep out.

Well, I have no shortage of photos and even some video clips so I said to myself, “Why not?”

Years ago, I was the audiovisual department head at Holland College in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and we produced scores of training videos for other departments at the college. In those days we used 3/4 inch U-Matic tape and equipment for production. How times have changed!

These days cameras and editing equipment are digital and most of us have basic video production gear on our laptops. Among the multitude of applications on my computer I came across one recently added by Microsoft called Clipchamp. That’s the program I used yesterday to produce my first book trailer, one of many for different audiences, I hope.

Drum roll, please.

See video below.

Send any comments on this video to:

Focus on UN Internships

Are you a recent graduate, or in the last year of an academic program and have an interest in a possible career in diplomacy or international development? If so, an internship with a UN agency may be of interest to you.

In my career abroad, I met many UN interns who were eager and talented who during their 2 – 4 months internship contributed to their agency’s work in a meaningful way. It is definitely an excellent addition to your resume if you meet the criteria. Check out all the details here:

You should note that UN internships are not paid and all costs must be born by the individual or the sponsoring entity.

You can explore a variety of internships as well as regular UN agency vacancies at the site operated by the UNJOBs Association of Geneva. (This entity is not part of the UN system).

NOTE: The UN does not charge fees in any part of the application process. Be aware of possible scams seeking your bank or other related financial information.

Arthur on CBC’s Information Morning

CBC Radio’s Information Morning Cape Breton helps listeners better understand and explore the challenges in our island’s future, remember their past and celebrate their neighbours’ accomplishments.

Arthur Shears had a 9-minute slot on the show on Thursday, March 23, 2022 where he described his new book “Overseas Adventures – From Afghanistan to Zambia and Points In-Between”.

Listen to the clip here.

FOCUS on Catalyste+

Catalyste + (Formerly the Canadian Executive Service Overseas – CESO)

The Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO) was a registered national and international development charity that started in 1967 and provided services for more than five decades. On December 1, 2022—CESO announced the evolution of its brand and the organization’s new name—Catalyste+.

Catalyste+ advisors are Canadian senior-level professionals with extensive expertise from both the private and public sectors. Leveraging an average of 20 years of experience, advisors provide mentorship and advisory services to Catalyste+ partners and clients through a sequence of short-term, strategic assignments.

Unlike other Canadian volunteer agencies such as CUSO and WUSC which traditionally placed individuals on longer 1- or 2-year assignments, CESO now Catalyste +, offers an opportunity to volunteer for a much shorter period.

For example, in-person international assignments typically last from two to four weeks. In-person assignments in Canada typically last from two days to two weeks. Virtual assignments vary from one to two months depending on the program and assignment type. There are some exceptions for mentoring assignments, which could last up to a year with a few site visits.

Another difference is that Catalyst+ attracts and places older and more experienced individuals.

Eligibility Requirements

Typically, a minimum of 15 years working experience is required, with at least ten years of experience in the field or with a role that an advisor is looking to support. In select cases, we work with advisors with less experience, provided they have the right mix of knowledge and expertise to suit the Catalyste+ partner’s needs. Advisors must be:

  • A resident or citizen of Canada, under the age of 79. The prospective Advisor must be under the age of 78 at the time of application.
  • Covered under a Canadian provincial health program.
  • Native or fully professional in either English or French.

Focus Areas

Catalyste+ focuses its work in areas and industries that drive inclusive growth and sustainable development as shown below. It draws on the depth and breadth of experience offered by Catalyste+ advisors to build capacity with businesses, governments and community organizations in Canada and in 30 countries around the world.

AgribusinessEnvironment and Climate ActionGender EqualityGovernanceMicro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Value ChainsNatural Resources ManagementTourism and Hospitality

Industry Sectors

Catalyste+ advisors offer expertise spanning a variety of other industry sectors and functional disciplines that benefit businesses, governments, and community organizations.

Arts, Recreation and CultureBusiness Support ServicesEconomic Development, Microfinance and FinanceEducational ServicesFood and Beverage ProductionHealth, Nutrition and Social ServicesInformation and Communications Technology (ICT)ManufacturingWholesale and Retail Trade

Other important information

The Catalyst+ website contains all the information you need to explore this option for volunteer development work in Canada and in countries abroad.

In reviewing the website, I particularly appreciated the step-by-step instructions on how to explore the option of becoming an advisor/volunteer, and the clear application process itself.

If you fit the eligibility requirements, match one of its focus areas, are in good health and have the urge to apply your skills in a new and productive way, why not check out Catalyste+.