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Selfless Retford teenager gave up Christmas to help tackle poverty in Nepal

Selfless Retford teenager gave up Christmas to help tackle poverty in Nepal

A young volunteer from Retford gave up his Christmas at home to travel over 4,500 miles to work on a project tackling poverty in Nepal.

As one of the world's poorest countries, more than a quarter of Nepali people live on less than $1.25 a day, and millions are still recovering from a series of devastating earthquakes in 2015.

Sam Driver, 19, is part of a team of young British and Nepali volunteers working on an education project supporting children to remain in school, increasing awareness around sexual reproductive health and improving the local environment.

Sam travelled to Nepal in with international development organisation VSO as part of the International Citizen Service (ICS) programme.

Rather than celebrating Christmas with family and friends at home, this year Sam is spending the festive season working with Nepali school children and the local community.

"There is nothing to really remind me of Christmas as it's not celebrated here," he said just before the day itself.

"I brought a few things with me for Christmas Day, such as chocolate; other than that I imagine it will be like any other day.

"We do have a trip booked to a restaurant which will be nice but I think it will be quite different to the typical English Christmas dinner.

"I'd normally spend Christmas with my family, but we have a good phone and internet reception here so communication with home is not that difficult."

The work Sam is undertaking could prove vital for the futures of youngsters in the poverty-stricken country.

Selfless Retford teenager gave up Christmas to help tackle poverty in Nepal

"We are working on English proficiency in the school as well as leading health classes for both school students and the wider community," he said.

"We will also be running environmental awareness programs and other health related programmes later on. We are working closely with the school and aim to inspire the students to attend school regularly and excel in their studies.

"So far the community has been very receptive - we get around the language barrier with the help of our counterparts who are Nepali nationals themselves."

Sam is living with a local family whilst in Nepal in order to fully immerse himself into the culture and to better understand the challenges faced by the local community.

"My host mum or "ama" [Nepali word for mum] is lovely, she lives alone and is very friendly," he said.

"From my window I can see a snow capped mountain range. It's incredible. The pace of life here is much calmer and slower. The weather is good at this time of year and the food is great, so I've had no problem adapting to the culture so far.

"On Christmas Day, I plan to give some gifts to my ama and explain how Christmas is celebrated in England."

ICS volunteers spend three months in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, working on projects that focus on issues ranging from sexual health and youth participation in politics, to climate change and sustainable livelihoods.

Since 2012, ICS has sent more than 15,000 young people from the UK abroad, to volunteer alongside young volunteers from the country they're in.

Young people don't need cash or qualifications to take part, just the motivation and commitment to make a difference.

On return to the UK, Sam and the other volunteers will complete an 'Action At Home' project, ensuring that their new skills also benefit their local communities.

Felicity Morgan, director of ICS at VSO, said: "Sam has joining thousands of other ICS volunteers who are doing amazing work around the world, every day.

"We're incredibly proud that UK aid is supporting young Brits bring about positive change in some of the world's poorest communities.

To find out more about ICS or to apply, visit www.volunteerics.org.

This Christmas, VSO is fundraising to help girls in Uganda stay in school. Just as in India, many girls in Uganda are married off as soon as they get their first period.

Instead of completing their education, these teenage girls become the wives of older men, are forced to do menial jobs and often live in extreme poverty.

VSO volunteers work with the girls' teachers to help them stand up to their family and get an education, rather than being seen as a commodity to be sold off.



News Source:  lincolnshirelive.co.uk

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