In September 2017, Annabella Chinnery, a university student from Enfield, travelled to Zanzibar, Tanzania to take part in a three-month volunteer project with international development charity Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO). Annabella fundraised for the project by running a non-uniform day at her local primary school and bag-packing at supermarkets. The Jack Petchey Foundation also awarded Annabella a £400 Individual Grant for Volunteering, which enabled her to take part in the programme.
The VSO project that Annabella volunteered with focused on teaching employability and entrepreneurship skills to students from colleges and youth groups in Zanzibar, with the aim to tackle the extremely high youth unemployment rate in the city. Alongside her team, made up of British and Tanzanian volunteers, Annabella ran employability workshops which included sessions that focussed on CV writing, interview skills and communication skills. Annabella described seeing the positive change within the young people she worked with each day as “incredible”. It was clear to her that the project was having a great impact on the students, especially in developing their confidence, as well as the skills they needed to help them gain employment. Through debating and interview workshops, the students also improved their public speaking skills. One of the colleges that Annabella volunteered at, invited her to the college graduation. She said, “Seeing our students graduate from their college was something I’ll never forget.”
Alongside the workshops, Annabella and her team planned and delivered ‘Community Action Days’, which enabled them to reach the wider communities of Zanzibar, raising awareness about issues relevant to the community. These action days included a litter pick and clean-up of the Stone Town Market, informing people of ways they can volunteer in their communities, and the importance of health and hygiene.
However, the communities that the group worked with were not the only people to come out of the project having learnt new skills. Annabella developed leadership skills and learnt about the culture and traditions of Tanzania. She said, “I have learnt so many things from my VSO ICS experience […] I learnt that positive change doesn’t have to happen straight away to be impactful. Things take time. After my first session with the students, I didn’t see an immediate change, which led me to think that the project would not be impactful. But as the weeks went on, I saw so much positive change.”
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