A Wigan teenager today urged her peers to get volunteering - as she returns from doing just that in Central America.
Nadia Rachford has just been working in Nicaragua with sustainable development charity Raleigh International.
And the Goose Green 19-year-old’s recruitment call couldn’t come at a better time for today is the UN’s International Volunteer Day which celebrates the passion of those around the world who are giving their time to make the world a better place.
Nadia, who is studying Spanish and geography at Liverpool University, said: “Humanitarian work is something which I have always been passionate about and have always been actively involved in local volunteering projects on a small scale. I found Raleigh ICS when looking for a volunteer placement abroad and it immediately seemed to fit my interests perfectly.
“I feel strongly about education and that everybody, regardless of age or gender, should have access to some form of it. The project I worked on gave vital education to young adults which undoubtedly can better their lives significantly.”
Nadia worked with Nicaraguan and Costa Rican volunteers on a project run by Raleigh International through the UK government’s International Citizen Service programme supporting young entrepreneurs to start their own small, sustainable business. A key aim was to have 50 per cent female participation to combat the country’s gender inequalities and allow women to have their own source of income. Alternative income sources are vital in Nicaragua in the current climate, as many rural families rely on agriculture and are threatened by climate change.
Nadia said: “The project I was involved in gave basic skills to young adults aged between 18 and 30 in business. We delivered four classes a week on the theory behind the project and then we had extra, more practical, workshops throughout the week where the entrepreneurs could practise their business skills be that selling or making their products, advertising and so on.
“This type of work is vital in rural Nicaragua as many of the population rely on the land to provide their income and food. We also encouraged businesses that did not rely on agriculture so that families had an alternative, more stable source of income which was not reliant on the weather and climate. These ranged from bakeries to barbershops to bicycle repair shops. We worked with them step by step to create a full business plan.
“Since my return I’ve been inspired to continue with volunteer work more specifically in the areas which touched me whilst I was away. My passion towards equal opportunities in education and gender equality has only grown and this is where I am now focssing my participation in projects back in the UK.”