Florence spent three months volunteering with ICS charity Restless Development in rural India, in the region of Tamil Nadu. Florence worked with a team of 20 international volunteers to improve awareness about issues such as sanitation and hygiene and to organise community outreach programmes. Florence was awarded a £300 Individual Volunteer Grant by the Jack Petchey Foundation which helped her to reach her fundraising target and take part in the programme.
Alongside local volunteers, Florence’s team delivered programs which engaged with the local youth to address the most urgent issues they faced within their communities and country. The volunteers travelled to the Youth Resource Centre, everyday to create session plans, prepare materials, coordinate events and hold after school activities for the local children. Florence’s team organized several community events including Republic Day celebrations, a YRC Fun Day to reach out to young people in the community, International Women’s Day and World Water Day.
The programs were delivered in four schools, one university and two orphanages. These sessions covered issues such as good sanitation and hand-washing practices, healthy diets, water-borne and vector-borne diseases, Menstrual Hygiene Management, CV writing, career guidance and interview preparation. When Florence wasn’t working, she played with the local children and spent time with her new friends who would teach her how to cook delicious Indian recipes and explain different cultural rituals and traditions.
Florence’s recalls one of her most extraordinary memories of her time in Alangayam; “To celebrate World Water Day we held lots of activities for the local school children that also held a key message conveying the importance and vitality of water. Seeing the children throwing themselves into every game, and eager to engage with the meanings behind the event was brilliant. The event culminated with a rally with everyone chanting ‘save water’, men and women carrying baskets of produce from the market would stop in their tracks, the buses even slowed to catch a glimpse of us parading down the street! It’s an incredible feeling to experience such unity, alongside our friends, peers and the fellow youth of today, demonstrating our beliefs with passion and excitement.”
For Florence the experience was very empowering, she said “ICS has taught me the importance of young people in our society today, and as the world’s future leaders we deserve the right to choose our own paths and challenge the issues affecting our lives, communities and countries. ICS has fuelled my desire to ensure that young people are given a platform on the world stage, to have their say, and fulfil their potential.”Florence made a video documenting her experience which you can watch on Youtube here.
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