24 year old Julie Kinnamont spent several months working in rural Zimbabwe on the International Citizen Service programme with humanitarian charity Restless Development.
Julie, of Newington Green in Hackney, lived in the village of Izimnyama in Southern Zimbabwe where she ran interactive workshops with young women in the region on issues such as teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and substance abuse.
“We aimed to make the classes as interactive and student-led as possible. This was challenging at first as the students were not accustomed to learning in this way, but as the weeks went on we saw their confidence begin to develop and they really enjoyed opportunities to be creative – coming up with a short play on the dangers of alcohol abuse or designing posters about HIV/AIDS prevention.”
Julie also worked with community groups in an effort to stimulate income-generating projects for local people. She helped one group write a loan proposal for a self-starting gardening project while she was also set up a careers awareness day for school leavers. Julie contacted representatives from the Police, Prison Service, Army, University and local businesses to talk to the Zimbabwean students about their futures.
“Running the event was challenging, as we wanted to invite many speakers from local businesses to attend, but it was difficult to reach them without good phone signal, internet access or transport links to their offices in town. Despite these hitches, the day went smoothly and both the students and the Head teacher thanked us for organising the event!”
Julie said she had developed her public speaking skills and organisation skills from the project, while it has given her a much more positive outlook on life.
“I was affected by the positive nature of the people around me. Despite the numerous challenges such as food shortages and power cuts, people rarely complained, which is different to English culture where people love a good moan! I learnt a lot from the people around me, both international volunteers and locals alike. One of the main things I learnt was the true value of clean, accessible water.”
Julie hopes to work in international development in the future, and had been in contact with WaterAid to see how she can get involved in their work.
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