Last week, we invited two young people who had used an Individual Grant for Volunteering from the Jack Petchey Foundation to travel across the world and volunteer in different projects to come for a visit to our head office. Jana and Ethem came to have lunch with staff at the Foundation and tell us all about their trips.
Jana, who is currently enrolled on a Masters degree in Marketing at the University of Greenwich, travelled to Ghana with the charity ‘Challenges Worldwide’. She spent ten weeks working with a group of volunteers on a project focused on helping small businesses to develop and, in turn, help to encourage a sustainable economy for the community.
Jana told us all about her once in a lifetime experience from the food to the people, right down to the public transport. She reflected on how different the community’s way of life is compared to London. She told us how a 10-mile journey on a bus could take up to four hours, but that didn’t matter because everyone was always late and never in as much of a rush as we are in London!
When asked why Jana decided to go abroad to volunteer she told us; “It’s a part of personal growth, I had the need to go somewhere where the help is needed.” Her work helped to bring businesses confidence and encouraged them to build on a clear plan for the future. Aside from her work with them, Jana saw that her presence had an impact on individual lives too. A lot of the locals have never left their hometown so meeting her made them start to think about other places and what else is out there. She told us; “I learned how much impact I can have as an individual on the smaller scale.”
Ethem, who is currently working towards being a pilot, also joined to tell us about his incredible trip to Ecuador. He travelled as part of a group of seven volunteers from his school, volunteering for four weeks, working in a different area each week. They volunteered with ‘Camps International’, a grass roots organisation who work with local community projects to ensure the volunteering focuses on tasks that will benefit the locals. Each of the leaders knew what the community needed, the volunteers were then able to implement these changes.
Their volunteering was split into four weeks, they travelled from a costal jungle, to an Amazonian jungle, to the Galapagos Islands and then the Andes! At each destination they worked on a new project such as painting a school, building a toilet, constructing a road and even teaching English to a pre-school class. Ethem says his A-Level Spanish came in very handy for this!
Ethem loved his trip so much that he created a series of vlogs detailing his many amazing experiences. The experiences he had in Ecuador has stayed with him and inspired him to continue travelling the world, helping where he can. He now has plans to use his pilot’s license to travel and fly aid to countries in need. Ethem has the confidence to get involved in new projects and face new challenges. He told us; “I learnt that if I throw myself into something, I can do it. I’m tougher than I think.”
Being able to sit down with the young volunteers and hear all about their amazing trips was a great experience for us. We love to find out how young people benefit from the grants we give out and what it has helped them to learn. We always want to know about the trips, experiences and lessons the young people we support have!