A YOUNG Wem woman is using skills she learned working for nine weeks in Africa, now she is back home in the United Kingdom.

Jessica Etches-Everest, 21, travelled to Kenya with international development organisation VSO, as part of the UK government funded International Citizen Service (ICS) programme.

She worked alongside young volunteers from Kenya and the UK on a sustainable development project, living with a local host family, so she was fully immersed into the community and gain a better understanding of the challenges there, across a number of placements.

"The placements included St Patricks, which is a school with disabled children, among others," she said.

"[It] covered a number of topics such as CV writing, laptop skills, climate change, farming, poultry, alcohol and drug abuse, business and entrepreneurship, women empowerment, debate, sex education and recording.

"There were limited resources so we planned the lessons with the resources available; such as instead of using a laptop presentation placements used the basic chalk and board teaching.

"The team who were out of placements, worked together on event days, and also there was a small community called the Independent Deaf Group Society which came to VSO to ask for help.

"The deaf in Makueni are overlooked a lot and dismissed so they came to us to help with signing a petition to allow sign language available in pubic areas such as stores and hospitals. This was a challenge because only few knew sign language so the society helped us set up lessons."

Jessica says her trip highlight was the work she did on a one-to-one basis, including with one pupil’s with ambitions to become a lawyer.

She added: "The biggest achievement, in my eyes, was teaching people from the ages of 18-35, and younger too, basic laptop skills.

"They learned how to turn the laptop on and off, open documents and save them. We did this because it will allow them to apply for jobs by writing a CV or cover letters.

"Also so they can write up about their goals in life; for example, I taught a 13-year-old girl called Shannon.

"She told me she wanted to be a lawyer so I showed her how to open up publisher, write text and font size. She was so eager to learn, they do have computer lessons in her school, but now she had those lessons she will understand computer skills more.

"We did practise stories, so we did role play where she was a lawyer and read the information given and recorded the important bits for the case.

"She did her goals for five years and I loved that lesson, I felt I made a different with that little girl giving her one-on-one lessons."

Jessica is now using the skills she developed overseas to carry out an ‘Action At Home’ project back in the UK.

The ‘Action at Home’ project is a key part of the ICS programme, and means that UK communities benefit directly from the experiences of ICS volunteers.

Felicity Morgan, director of ICS, said: “It’s really inspiring to hear about the fantastic work Jessica is doing.

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

"As an organisation working on the front line against poverty, VSO sees how people across Britain play an important role in delivering UK aid."

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