Staff Spotlight: Sam Topping

Website/Media Coordinator


Sam has traveled the world solo and explored many parts of the globe. She was born in the UK but for the past year has been living in Australia to live with her Aussie partner. Sam has worked for IVI since Sept 2019 and is enjoying being part of a small but dedicated team.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Too many to count! Sometimes it's just the small things that stick in your mind, like gazing out the window of a slow boat down the Mekong River in Laos, or sometimes it's seeing the big tourist attractions such as the Taj Mahal in India!

I always have fond memories of my first volunteering and travel experience, when I was 18. I was with around 14 other volunteers, living and working on an animal sanctuary in South Africa. I felt so free, living on my own for the first time, amongst friends, being around some incredible animals and exploring the country on our days off. This time will always feel special to me.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I am still quite new to the company and so I am looking forward to any future opportunities and where they will lead me. Right now I am enjoying my work and it helps to be part of such a friendly team of people. This is the first time I am working from home and I love the flexibility it can bring.

I have volunteered in the past and I know how it can really change people’s lives for the better- both for the people you help and for yourself also. I enjoy being part of something that brings about positive change and would encourage all those thinking about volunteering to give it a go.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

I think for me, I love hearing about how the volunteers grow whilst on their projects. We had a girl named Marina who helped with our nutrition project in Fiji. She was studying dietetics and, although she was taught how to take blood pressure on her course, she had never actually learnt how to take blood pressure manually. This is something she got to do in Fiji, and she took back her new skills which could really help her in her future career. As well as that, she got to practice talking with people from all over the world, and another culture. Learning these life skills can be excellent for young people to really push their learning and to help them grow in confidence.

I am also very pleased to see so many people raising funds for our projects, before or after their placement. We've had many volunteers who have raised money to buy vital supplies to our worldwide projects and we can't thank them enough!

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Wow, another tough question! I would go on any project really, but probably somewhere where I haven't been before, as I love exploring new places! Nepal is very appealing to me and we have some exciting projects there, such as teaching Buddhist monks up in the Everest region. Costa Rica also sounds so exciting as it has some incredible biodiversity there. It's one of our newest countries, along with other destinations in South America.

IVI has impactful projects all over the world that really give back to the local communities, so I know I could find a meaningful project in any of our destinations.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

I love that we are a non-profit organization that’s passionate about giving back to developing communities around the globe. We are a small team that works hard to sustain our mission to fight poverty and help underprivileged communities all over the world.

I am proud of our team who are all so passionate and generally care about the people on our projects. Our health projects in Fiji and Vanuatu are a testament to the dedication and commitment the health & nutrition team shows, to really make a change over there - and we are seeing great results from it.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I think teamwork, respecting each other and getting along well are key components to any company thriving. All the people on the team being fully aware of the main purpose and mission of the company is also very important, so we can communicate our values to our customers in a consistent manner. I think if a team is passionate about its work, this can only be a recipe for success.