A young local woman has just returned from a life-changing and eye-opening placement in Bolivia, where she spent 11 weeks helping and educating local underprivileged children and their families.
Francine O’Connor from Cargan volunteered with global development charity International Service, who work in partnership with human rights groups in West Africa, the Middle East and Latin America to empower the world’s most marginalised people through the International Citizen Service (ICS) scheme.
The 23-year-old said that on arrival she had a ‘massive culture shock’ and was struck by the ‘huge difference in how they live’ in Bolivia.
She quickly adapted, however, and realised the desperate need to address Bolivia’s extreme poverty and low education levels amongst the children and adults.
Francine helped the local community by improving their writing and numeracy skills, as well as teaching about basic health and nutrition.
Since her return, she has found it impossible to stop talking about her placement and her personal development during her time in Bolivia.
“The experience was emotionally as well as physically challenging... but it really helped me understand more about poverty in other countries and the need to help those who really need it,” says Francine.
Francine believes in promoting volunteering opportunities such as these, pointing out that “volunteering really changes your view of life and puts it all into perspective... it shows you that there is more to life than what is happening back home”.
International Service offer overseas placements to 18-25-year-olds on behalf of the UK government through the ICS scheme. For more information go to www.internationalservice.org.uk for more information.