Derry woman encourages young people to volunteer
A Derry woman is to walk the 373 miles between Mizen Head and Malin Head to raise funds for a leading international development organisation which provides volunteering opportunities for young people.
Carol-Anne O’Kane has also set herself the gruelling task of walking from the rugged south west coast of Ireland to the cliffs of Donegal to raise awareness of the work of the International Citizen Service.
The Shantallow woman first became aware of the international development organisation when she was at university in 2013.
“I didn’t have much money but I wanted to do something different. Everyone was heading off to festivals that Summer and I just thought to myself should I go off to festivals or should I go out to another country where I didn’t know anyone or what to expect.”
Carol-Anne applied to ICS and following an interview she set about raising the £800 required to take part. She was sent to Central America to volunteer with one of the organisation’s partner charities.
“ICS is 90 percent funded by the UK government, but volunteers raise the remaining ten per cent to keep the organisation going and to show your commitment to the project,” she explained.
“I was sent to Honduras in 2013 for ten weeks with a team of volunteers from across the UK. Initially my Dad wasn’t for letting me go because Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, but it was an experience of a lifetime.”
The volunteers were involved in youth led development projects to get the best out of young people in some of the poorest communities across the world.
Carol-Anne said the volunteers worked during the ten weeks and it was ‘rewarding and inspiring’.
“We designed a mural, taught English to the young people and supported local Honduran women who were victims of domestic violence.
“They started up a coffee business and we helped out on the farms and provided business management workshops. I also designed a video along with another volunteer to promote the story behind the coffee co-operative and we visited orphanages to play with the children.”
In October this year, Carol-Anne will be volunteering as a team leader in either Uganda or Nepal.
“It has always been a goal of mine to go back as a team leader. I’m really excited and can’t wait to meet my team of 12 volunteers from across the UK.”
Carol-Anne hopes to encourage other local young people to take the opportunity to volunteer through ICS.
“It opens so many doors, you make lifelong friends and learn so many new skills. I also came back with a global awareness and was a changed person in many ways. The experience helps your family life, social life and personal life and gives the volunteers so much confidence.”
Carol-Anne will receive specialist training to become a team leader and hopes to use these skills when she returns to Derry.
She will set off on her fundraising walk in Mizen Head on August 1 and hopes to complete it in three weeks.
Ton donate visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/carolanneokane