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Crossmaglen man shares his ‘life-changing’ volunteering experience in Nepal

October 31, 2016

A young Crossmaglen man who recently returned from three months volunteering in Nepal is calling on other young people to take the plunge and consider volunteering overseas.

Twenty five year old Ciaran Mines spent 12-weeks working in partnership with Nepali volunteers with Raleigh International as part of the UK Government funded International Citizen Service (ICS) programme.

Ciaran’s project – which was run by international development organisation Raleigh International as part of the ICS programme – focussed on improving access to safe water and sanitation, while inspiring behaviour change in Nepalese communities around handwashing.   His volunteer team helped improve hygiene practices in homes around the community of Nibuwater. Ciaran’s team also worked to create a positive difference surrounding gender equality, local governance, school attendance and environmental awareness in Nibuwater.

ICS volunteers, aged 18-25, work on long-term projects that seek to end poverty in some of the poorest countries in the world. The scheme offers young people the chance to gain valuable new skills while working on projects that make a genuine difference to the people they work with and their communities. Those aged 23-35 can also apply to be ICS team leaders.

Speaking to The Examiner about his placement with Raleigh ICS, Ciaran described his volunteer experience as “life changing.”

“Before I went to Nepal I had little self-worth and was not very confident but my ICS experience changed all that,” said Ciaran.

“My team and I achieved a lot in Nepal. We planned and held successful sessions on personal hygiene, oral hygiene, and how to manage water to make it safe for drinking. We also held events on World Youth Skills day to highlight to the young people in the community how many skills they could bring to the workforce. Lastly we worked together with our community to help build a 20,000 litre water tank and five toilets with 4 hand washing stations.

Ciaran says he feels so inspired and motivated by the experience that he is determined to carry on making a difference and is keen to get involved in his own community to help young people understand the benefits of participating in community work and volunteering.

“I feel inspired to encourage others to be agents of change and make the world a more positive place to live. I am also hoping to one day be a team leader, leading other young volunteers like myself on projects like Raleigh ICS. I would highly recommend other young people to apply for ICS.

“Raleigh ICS is a unique opportunity to work alongside people from a different culture and make a difference at the same time. I’d encourage young people like myself to apply!”

The scheme is funded by the UK Government, 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.

Lili Marfani, Director of ICS, said: “It’s great to hear Ciaran is encouraging other young people to apply for ICS. We’re passionate about supporting young people from across the UK and using their energy to tackle poverty. Our experience of working with young people shows they really can take on the big issues and make a difference in people’s lives.”

To find out more about ICS Raleigh International or to apply, visit www.volunteerICS.org/Raleigh-ics

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