Gosport volunteer inspired to help others after trip to India
SPENDING time helping people in India has given a woman skills she can put to good use in her own community.
Jessica Erdogan, from Gosport, recently returned from volunteering in India as part of the International Citizen Service (ICS).
The 23-year-old travelled to India with development programme VSO and worked alongside young volunteers in the country to raise awareness on gender equality and empowering women in tribal communities.
During her time abroad, Jessica lived with a host family to understand the challenges they face and improve the community’s knowledge on education and sanitation.
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The Action at Home project is a key part of ICS, and means areas in the UK benefit from the skills volunteers gain while working in developing countries.
Jessica said: ‘I had an incredible time in India, and I really felt our project was making a difference in the community.
‘The extent to which the boys and girls at school were segregated was like something I’d never imagined, but when we got the children to take part in fun games and activities together at the school, they soon got involved.
‘It’s great to think these activities will help young people to form a balanced and equal environment and go on to reach their full potential.
‘I also got to experience a whole new culture, and made some friends for life.’
ICS allows young people aged 18 to 25 to contribute to sustainable development projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Jessica is now using the skills she developed overseas to improve the lives of the less advantaged in Portsmouth and Gosport, relating to homelessness and care for the elderly and disabled.
She also enjoys getting involved in helping young adults with disabilities to enjoy taking part in social activities.
Jessica added: ‘My time in India was a real eye opener, and now I’m back I’m keen to help out in my own community.
‘No one should have to live in poverty any more, whether they’re in India or Gosport and Portsmouth.
‘I’d really encourage other young people to think about applying for ICS.’
ICS is funded by UK aid, so young people do not need cash, qualifications or work experience to take part.
Before Jessica travelled to India, she raised £800 for VSO, which will help to make sure communities in developing countries continue to benefit from the work of future volunteers.
For more details visit volunteerics.org.