By Gary Garriott

This is the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.

Volunteers are people who do things to help others without being paid. Some groups are called private voluntary organizations or P-V-Os. They also use volunteers to perform special activities. One such P-V-O is Volunteers in Technical Assistance or VITA.

VITA was established in Nineteen-Fifty-Nine. It was started by a group of engineers and scientists. They believed information and technology are important for improving the lives of people in developing countries. VITA helps people in developing countries in several ways. It provides information, strengthens local communities and develops improved technologies. It supports new businesses. And it supports the exchange of technical information among people and groups.

VITA uses people with important skills and experience, such as engineers, businessmen and farmers. These people volunteer to solve technical problems in developing countries, especially those in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

By using volunteers, VITA is able to do more work than it could if it had to pay everyone. VITA's volunteers are happy to do this work during their extra time. They usually work at home on weekends or evenings to answer questions from people who have technical problems.

In the past, people asked questions in letters mailed to VITA. Now many people use computers to send questions by electronic mail over the Internet. Sometimes VITA volunteers travel to foreign countries to work on projects that began when someone asked a question. VITA has produced publications from the answers to the most popular questions.

VITA is also using the Internet to find volunteers to answer questions. For example, if someone from Africa writes about a problem, VITA places the question on its Internet Website. Volunteers can provide answers to the questions. This service is free.

VITA has worked with volunteers for a long time. So it can also help others work with volunteers in their own countries. For example, in Ukraine and Moldova, VITA is helping the Citizens Network for Foreign Affairs train farmers in business skills. Local volunteers in those countries are doing most of the training.

You can get more information on VITA from its Internet address, www. vita. org.

This VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT was written by Gary Garriott.

Voice of America Special English