African adventure ‘changed my life’

Emily Abbott and villagers
Emily Abbott and villagers

A teenager has issued a rallying call for Wiganers to follow in her footsteps after she returned from volunteering in Tanzania.

Emily Abbott, originally from Wigan, spent three months over the summer in the East African nation, as part of a clean water and sanitation programme organised by charity Raleigh International.

I hope people find my experience exciting, rewarding, and want to know more about what they can do, because there is so much out there.

Emily Abbott

Her work involved visiting schools and getting to know the small communities to raise awareness of the issues.

Now back in the UK, the 19-year-old music student has called on others to take inspiration from her’s and others’ work in the poverty-stricken country, believing that even just one person’s help can “start something amazing”.

“It is scary to think that over half the world is in poverty,” Emily said.

“Just being involved in something so rewarding is crazy.

“I hope people find my experience exciting, rewarding, and want to know more about what they can do, because there is so much out there.”

Emily struggled to put into words how life-changing her Tanzanian adventure was, despite it being fraught with challenges.

“I prepared myself for how hard it was going to be, but when you’re there and in the midst of it all, you are so unprepared for what you’re going to feel,” she said.

She added that living in the community and being with the locals everyday made for a rewarding endeavour.

“They are so happy with life, and even though things in the village are bad (e.g. water sources), they are still so positive.

“Seeing this everyday completely changed my outlook on life.”

Emily raised the funds to go to Tanzania by running the City of York Triathlon earlier in the year, rather than following the current trend of using crowdfunding websites.

“I wanted to earn it,” she stated.

“I wanted to prove that I was serious. It also made feel like I achieved something as well.”

Finally, Emily spoke of her work’s lasting legacy that others would also get if they volunteered.

“I regularly speak to the people that I was with.

“My Tanzanian counterparts and I will be friends for life, and I think that is incredible.”

Raleigh is an international charity that works in Tanzania, Nepal and Nicaragua.

To find out more and to get involved with projects abroad, visit raleighinternational.org