Jemma Hill spent three months volunteering with International Citizen Service in Kaolack, Senegal. She was supported in her work by a £300 Jack Petchey Foundation Individual Grant for Volunteering.
The project Jemma took part in aimed at developing community health, specifically raising awareness of neglected tropical illnesses. As a development worker, Jemma’s day to day tasks included running workshops in rural areas on relevant health issues, speaking to government authorities as an advocate for these issues and raising awareness through other means such as rallies and local media outlets. Jemma and her team also participated in school clean up days and built a classroom and a maternity consultation room for the town from scratch!
Jemma said “Working with my counterparts was great as there are a number of benefits that come from a diverse and multinational group of young people working together including the mix of ideas and working styles.”
The workshops that Jemma ran reached hundreds of people and increased awareness levels and knowledge about tropical diseases, as well as symptoms and treatment available. The advocacy project allowed the community she worked with to have a voice, as they expressed their health concerns to the volunteers. The building of the maternity consultation room in the Ndoffane area had a direct impact on the community which has improved their level of. In terms of general development, English classes, school clean up days and the building of a new classroom in the Sibassor area all contributed to educational development.
Jemma reflected on her volunteer experience, saying, “I gained invaluable insight into Senegalese culture and international links as I made friends for life – tolerance, open mindedness and adaptability are all qualities that I have taken home with me. I have also learnt to be grateful for everything that I took for granted at home, such as drinking water from the tap and using a washing machine. As well as soft skills, my ability in French improved greatly which will make me more employable in the future.”
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