A young Arnside woman who recently spent 12 weeks volunteering in Nepal is now using the skills she developed overseas to help out in the UK.
Errin Brown, 22, travelled to Nepal with international development organisation VSO, as part of the UK government funded International Citizen Service (ICS) programme.
She worked alongside young volunteers from Nepal and the UK on a sustainable development project.
Errin also lived with a local host family, so that she was fully immersed into the community and could gain a better understanding of the challenges people there face.
Errin said: “One of the greatest challenges faced by communities in rural Nepal is accessing quality education.
“This is a particular issue for children with disabilities, those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and girls.
“Our project worked with local schools and communities to promote VSO’s three core values of social inclusion, social accountability, and resilience.
“More than half of children in Nepal who enrol in Grade 1 leave school before the lower secondary level. The number is especially high for girls.
“The tradition of child marriage and early childbearing amongst girls is a major factor in high school dropout rates.
“We delivered awareness raising workshops to students, parents, and high profile members in the municipality on both these interconnected issues.
“The people I met and the relationships I formed over the three months with fellow UK volunteers, our Nepali volunteer counterparts and local beneficiaries were undoubtedly the best thing about my time in Nepal.
“I have huge admiration for the resilience of the Nepali people, still dealing, amongst other things, with the after effects of the 2015 earthquake.
“I learned a lot from living with a local family and felt fully immersed in the Nepali way of life.
“My greatest achievement is a team achievement in the delivery of our campaign, ‘One Home, One Reading Corner’.
“The message of promoting a healthy reading culture for students at home is extremely important to me and I was delighted that we were able to provide reading corner materials, including carpets, work tables and books, to several of the most disadvantaged student homes in the area.”
ICS allows young people aged 18-25 to contribute to sustainable development projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Errin is now using the skills she developed overseas to carry out an ‘Action At Home’ project back in the UK.
The Action at Home project is a key part of the ICS programme, and means that UK communities benefit directly from the experiences of ICS volunteers.
Errin said: “My placement with VSO was my first sustained experience of life in a developing country.
“I was staggered by the levels of poverty, in western terms, which I saw around me and the consequent lack of opportunities, especially for young people and disadvantaged groups.
“I have read about the outstanding work of the Help Refugees organisation in Calais and Lesbos and have decided to volunteer at the camps.
“The time I spent in Nepal made me appreciate the comforts and opportunities that we take for granted in the western world.
“Foremost among these is a permanent home, a human right that no one should be denied. I aim to organise a clothes and food collection to take over to the Calais camp, so I will be posting on social media about that soon.
“If you are interested in donating any books, toys, clothing, or non-perishable food items, please contact me at email@example.com.
“I think the ICS programme offers an invaluable opportunity for young people in our country. It’s a chance to develop socially, morally, intellectually and professionally.
“ICS gives you a new global perspective on the most pressing problems in international development. From spending this length of time in a developing country, working closely with people from a totally different culture, you will grow in so many ways.
“I would encourage anyone between the ages of 18 and 25 to take the chance while it’s here!”
ICS is funded by UK aid, so young people don’t need cash, qualifications or work experience to take part, just the desire to make a difference to the lives of some of the world’s poorest communities.
Before she left for Nepal, Errin raised £940 for VSO, which will ensure that communities in developing countries can continue to benefit from the work of volunteers.
Felicity Morgan, director of ICS, said: “It’s really inspiring to hear about the fantastic work Errin is doing. We’re incredibly proud that UK aid is supporting young Brits to bring about positive change in some of the world’s poorest communities.
“As an organisation working on the frontline against poverty, VSO sees how people across Britain play an important role in delivering UK aid.
“From the NHS and Army helping end the Ebola crisis, to the millions who generously donate, and the contribution we all make through taxes, together we are all making the world a fairer, safer place.”
To find out more about ICS or to apply, visit www.volunteerics.org.
International Citizen Service
*ICS is funded by the UK Government and led by VSO. VSO delivers the programme in partnership with the respected development organisations Raleigh International, Restless Development, Tearfund, International Service, Y-Care International, Balloon Ventures and Challenges Worldwide.
*ICS is open to people aged 18-25 when their placement begins. Those aged 23-35 can also apply to be ICS team leaders.
*ICS is funded by the UK Government; volunteers do not pay to take part in ICS. All volunteers are asked to fundraise as part of their involvement in ICS and they receive professional support to help them meet their goal. Fundraising is a way of making sure developing countries can continue to benefit from the work of future ICS volunteers.
*The ICS programme covers flights, visas, travel and medical insurance, medication and vaccines, food and accommodation, and a minimal allowance while overseas. Volunteers receive extensive training and support to deliver projects that help lift some of the world’s poorest communities out of poverty.
*ICS delivers three key outcomes: to have a real and lasting impact through sustainable development projects; to help the volunteers, both those from the UK and from developing countries, learn key life-skills such as teamwork, leadership, communication and project planning; and to instil in these volunteers a life-long commitment to development, becoming active citizens, engaged in their communities and tackling