A 21-year-old from Great Hale has fulfilled her dream to travel overseas to carry out volunteer work.
Shelby Robertson, of Queens Road, has just returned from the government-funded ICS programme for young people to do international development work. After raising £800 towards her stay, she spent 10 weeks with a local volunteers’ family in a community 12 miles from the Nigerian capital Lagos.
Shelby flew out to the heat of West Africa on October 3 where she was to encourage young people to take an interest in politics, helping promote women’s rights and do youth work.
She said: “I lived and worked in the small, welcoming community of Igbo-Oluwo in Ikorodu, Lagos State. My host family was just one example of the loving and selfless members of the community that I encountered on my stay.”
She worked in a team of 20 volunteers - half UK, half Nigerians - supporting Local Youth Parliaments of Ikorodu to increase their awareness of problems in the local communities of Aga, Ebute, Jumofak, Igbo-Oluwo and Lowa. Shelby says: “We hosted two parliament assemblies, one leadership summit, a rally on domestic violence against women and children, a sanitation project on the Igbo-Oluwo community hall and many community action days at local schools.”
Local Youth Parliament work is still going on. She said: “I have built strong friendships with people I would never have had the chance to meet, and I’m beyond thankful I was given the chance to meet these wonderful and admiring strangers.”
She did not have phone contact with home for a week when she first arrived, but all volunteers were in the same boat until SIM cards were sorted out. Instead they used affordable internet cafés.
As she was heading out to Nigeria, concerns were growing about the scale of the ebola outbreak in West Africa, although it turned out that Nigeria was clear of the killer disease. She recalls: “We had multiple health talks, access to a private hospital and health insurance. There wasn’t a sign of ebola in Ikorodu though. Our main issue to worry about was malaria and that was easily avoided with spray, doxycycline and antibiotics if you got ill.”
While glad to be back enjoying home comforts, she says she will miss the simplicity and friendliness of the community. A challenging but ultimately rewarding experience, she recommends it to anyone aged 18-25.
Details: visit www.volun teerics.org or www.impac tikorodu.wordpress.com