An Armley woman, who recently spent 11 weeks volunteering in Cambodia, is using the skills she developed overseas to help out in the UK.
Kimberley Edward, aged 19, travelled to Cambodia with international development organisation VSO, as part of the UK-government funded International Citizen Service (ICS) programme.
She worked alongside young volunteers from Cambodia and the UK on a sustainable development project.
Kimberley 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.
“A major challenge young people in my community faced in Cambodia was exclusive education. The school system discriminated against many groups such as those living with a disability (mental and physical), members of the LGBTQ+ community and females due to religious beliefs and cultural/social expectations.
“This meant that access to education was limited for a large proportion of youth in Cambodia. The livelihood project and team I worked with aimed to overcome this by improving and facilitating youth’s access to inclusive training and education so that every Cambodian had the same opportunity to obtain decent work and independency in their lives.”
Kimberley said one of her biggest achievements was helping to enroll excluded youth into vocational training.
“As well as this, we were able to deliver a session to parents on safe and legal migration as an overwhelming amount of the population migrate, unsafely and illegally, to neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and South Korea in pursuit of decent work. By doing this we were making a positive impact on all members of our community.”
ICS allows young people aged 18-25 to contribute to sustainable development projects in Africa and Asia. The projects volunteers are placed on work towards achieving the United Nation’s Global Goals, a set of development targets that nations across the world have to achieve by 2030.
Kimberley 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.
“Something that ICS has shown me is the power of volunteering and impact it can have in changing people’s lives. This therefore has led me to take part in volunteering in my local charity shop once a week.
“As well as this, ICS has given me the confidence to start my own small non-profit organisation called ‘Break the Cycle’ that aims to help facilitate and improve the access to education for youth in Zimbabwe, Southern Africa which is my country of origin. “
The organisation aims donate essential items to schools in rural areas such as exercise books, pens/pencils, text books and other personal items like sanitary products for girls. For anyone who wants to get involved in any capacity contact Kimberley on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Cambodia, Kimberley raised £800 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 Kimberley 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.”
To find out more about ICS or to apply, visit www.volunteerics.org.