A Blackpool teenager has described her volunteering experience in Nepal as ‘a culture shock’ and wants to use her new skills to help vulnerable communities in the UK.
Courtney Thompson, of Bispham, spent five weeks in Nepal with development organisation VSO, as part of the International Citizen Service (ICS) programme to end poverty in some of the poorest countries in the world.
The 18-year-old raised £815 for VSO’s work and made a big impact on the community in Nepal.
Read more: Blackpool women fund-raise to support poor communities in Nepal and Uganda with VSO
She said: “Everyone was so friendly and it was lovely to see the children so happy over the simplest things. For example, we organised a colouring contest and they were excited to receive crayons as a prize. We also taught the girls how to play football and did a litter pick competition to see who could collect the most litter.
“We spoke to people in the community near the school, asking what we could do to make things better. Our team installed a reading corner for residents in the special needs housing.”
Courtney, who works for Fleetwood Training Football Ground, had to cut her 12-week placement short due to illness but it wouldn’t stop her from doing it again.
She said: “I was really upset I couldn’t finish the programme but I got travel diarrhoea and it wasn’t getting any better.
“My host family was so kind and helpful when I was ill and always made sure I had a pot of tea in the morning. Whenever they see anyone is upset, they try to feed you.
“I really enjoyed the experience and it was such a culture shock. We lived on rice and lentils twice a day and people thought I was strange for wanting to use a fork rather than my hands. There was no proper toilet and our house ran out of water. We also experienced power cuts. But I would do it again and use my experiences to help people over there and here in the UK.”
To find out about ICS visit www.volunteerics.org.